SOCs: Student organizations come together

Dylan Reed-Maxfield

With over 75 student organizations thriving on the Lawrence campus, it can be difficult for members of different groups to keep up with what others are doing. Many organizations struggle to get the word out about their events, and lots of good ideas fall through the cracks due to lack of funding.The Lawrence University Community Council is currently working on a plan to foster greater collaboration among organizations with similar goals and interests.

The proposal, which has been a major project of current LUCC President Mollie Bodin’s cabinet, calls for the placement of each student group into one of nine interest-based categories called Student Organization Councils.

Every organization would send at least one representative to monthly meetings of its SOC. The meetings would also be attended by two members of the LUCC cabinet or the general council, charged with reporting attendance and minutes to the LUCC Steering and Finance Committees.

These sessions would provide an opportunity for members of the different groups to discuss what their organizations are working on, and to propose collaboration. Additionally, representatives would report back to their own groups what the others had planned, to encourage more widespread participation in events.

The nine categories named in the proposal are service, diversity, entertainment, academics, club sports, politics, publication, recreation and special interest.

The service and diversity SOCs already exist in the form of the LUCC Service Council and the Multicultural Affairs Committee, and the plan would not alter the way these function.

“They’re really successful at what they’re doing,” said Bodin of Service Council and MCAC. She went on to explain that the idea behind the SOCs is in fact based on how effectively the two committees promote communication among the organizations they encompass.

Bodin sees several desirable results coming out of the SOC proposal. For one, increased collaboration would potentially mean more efficient use of resources.

“It’s great for organizations that don’t have a big budget,” she explained, citing the possibility of such groups co-sponsoring events with the larger organizations.

Bodin also believes that greater communication would lead to much higher campus-wide awareness of each organization’s projects. “It’s really going to be a positive thing for everybody involved.”

As of now, LUCC aims to add just the entertainment council as a sort of trial for the SOCs during spring term this year.
However, Bodin fully anticipates good results, and hopes that the remainder of the plan will take effect next fall under the cabinet of LUCC President-Elect James Duncan-Welke, who will take office at the end of this term.

Duncan-Welke himself, though agreeing with the goals of the proposal, was cautious of sharing in too much of Bodin’s optimism. “I’m not opposed to the SOC policy,” he said. “I’m just worried about how we’re going to get it to work.”

Duncan-Welke expressed his fear that student groups would see the proposal as intrusive on the part of LUCC. Part of his fear is also that student groups might see the reporting of SOC minutes to Finance Committee as “a veiled threat.”

Bodin’s answer to these potential issues of public image is a pair of informational sessions about the proposal. One session took place Thursday, and another is planned for 1 p.m. Saturday in Riverview Lounge.

LUCC has specifically notified the contact persons of the organizations about the sessions, but all students have been invited to attend and ask questions.

Both the incoming and outgoing presidents emphasized that interested students should also contact their LUCC representatives with questions or concerns.

“Input from the campus community is crucial when LUCC is trying to work out something with such a broad reach as the SOC proposal,” said Duncan-Welke.