Student leadership | Enhancing the student organization experience

by Mark Kueppers, Senior Director of Campus Involvement, Center for Leadership & Involvement

Last month, more than 13,000 students streamed through the doors of the Kohl Center seeking connection and community with the 450 registered student organizations (RSOs) that participated in the two-day Student Organization Fair. This Wisconsin Welcome event was a reminder of the importance students place on co-curricular involvement and of our opportunity to facilitate a sense of belonging and out-of-classroom learning through our institutional support of RSOs.

One of our Student Affairs strategic initiatives focuses on enhancing the student organization experience at UW–Madison, which influences a wide cross-section of students. After reviewing existing RSO support, key data, and institutional priorities, as well as identifying essential skills and outcomes for RSO officers, members, and advisors, the core team has proposed three deliverables to advance this work.

Student Organization Experience Framework: Establishes essential competencies for RSOs, officers, and members and related outcomes that drive organizational success. The framework incorporates campus priorities such as belonging, civil discourse, and flourishing, with a focus on organizational operations and leadership development.

RSO Accreditation Process: Provides a structured approach that aligns RSO expectations and requirements with institutional benefits while accounting for the variance across more than 1,000 groups. The accreditation tiers will incorporate trainings and workshops for RSO leaders that are informed by the student organization experience framework.

RSO Advising Requirements: Enhances support for RSOs by adding an RSO advisor requirement for groups interested in achieving a higher-level accreditation. Proposed adjustments are informed by current UW–Madison, UW System, and Big Ten institution practices as well as potential implications identified by the core team.

We are excited to offer increased institutional investment in the success of RSOs and will be following up in the coming weeks to seek more specific feedback on these projects and other ideas for RSO support. A special thank you to our core/dream team: Sadat Khan, Heidi Lang, Prisma Ruacho, TJ Sargent, Aaron Vieth, and Abbie Wagaman.