After an overhaul of the student club approval process over the past year, a Council Advisory Board including representatives from five different advisory boards will now have the final say whether proposed clubs make the cut.

Under the old system, a Center for Student Engagement administrator would review one of the 40 to 60 new club proposals submitted each semester and then direct the proposal toward one of five appropriate advisory boards: the Media Board, Performing Arts Advisory Council, Student Activities Commission, club sports and the Center for Social Justice Advisory Board. That group would then decide whether to approve an organization and help it start out on campus.

“There were a lot of problems with the system. It wasn’t necessarily conducive to good group-forming,” Chair of the Student Activities Commission Jennifer Chiang (SFS ’15) said. “We were given assignments and told, ‘Here’s your group.’”

Additionally, the new system curbs waiting time for groups that do not meet an advisory board’s requirements on their first try.

“In the past, if a group was applying just to an advisory board specifically, that board might review their application and determine, ‘Well, they don’t really meet our criteria for the type of groups we take right now,’” Director of Student Engagement Erika Cohen Derr said. “In the old process, that group would just have to wait until the next development round and then try to reapply to a different advisory board then. We wanted to minimize that experience.”

The new process is also intended to decrease confusion about groups that do not fit neatly under one advisory board.

“Sometimes there are groups that are proposed where it’s not necessarily clear whether, say, they belong to the CSE or the CSJ, and so the advisory board members are the ones that are in the best position to make determinations about which board they’re assigned to,” Cohen Derr said.

While the CAB will increase advisory board collaboration, Cohen Derr said that the specialized advisory boards will remain autonomous.

“They are seeking to strike a balance between the collaboration process that all boards are brought into and honoring the unique characteristics of each board and the fact that each board supports their members in a unique set of realities,” Cohen Derr said.

If a student advisory board does not want to accept a new group under its authority, however, a majority of the advisory boards in the CAB can force them to accept the group anyway.

The new student organization development process allows the CAB to collectively make decisions regarding the benefits given to fledgling clubs, including university-wide recognition, funding, campus resources and use of the Georgetown name.

Alex Skarzynski (SFS ’15), chair of the club sports advisory board, praised the ability of the new club development structure to allow student participation in what had previously been an administration-dominated process.

“Before, the only conversation among boards would really be administrator to administrator. … I would usually never know the chair of SAC, just because there’s not that much that we overlapped,”Skarzynski said. “CAB has been a great way for student leaders of these groups to be the voice, as opposed to just administrators.”

Chiang agreed and said that the enhanced cooperation among different advisory boards was the primary benefit of the changes.

“It’s very helpful to have somebody else at the table to talk it out with,” Chiang said. “It made us more of a cohesive board and made things more consistent.”

While still a new process, the changes have already proven conducive to bringing new clubs into the existing fold, including Hoya Sana, a yoga and stress-release club, and Brilliantly British, a British culture appreciation society
“I’m really happy to say that in the past cycle, each advisory board was able to take at least one new group into the new club development process,” Chiang said.

“It unifies us and presents the united front that you’d want from advisory boards that represent so many groups on campus,” Skarzynski added.

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