This semester, the Center for Student Programs, the Center for Social Justice, and Campus Ministry collaborated to launch a daring initiative entitled The Blueprint. This set of two training sessions, which concluded Saturday, was designed to educate the leaders of student organizations on the resources available under the University’s access to benefits policies and, of course, the consequences of abusing organizational privileges.
As can be expected of any Georgetown initiative, the scheme lends itself to immediate criticism.
The most obvious barrier to success is the herculean task of forcing college students to roll out of bed and into the ICC auditorium for a full 9-to-5 day of paying attention to something other than the stale taste of the complementary coffee housed in suspicious cardboard boxes.
In astute anticipation of this problem, the coordinators of The Blueprint devised what, in their sleep-deprived minds, appeared to be an entertaining icebreaker. The resulting game of “Would You Rather” was led by CSP Director Erika Cohen-Derr. Unfortunately, the questions asked were those that would seldom make an appearance at any usual Saturday activities, especially those that occur amid steadily-emptying cans of Natural Light. Cohen-Derr focused on questions that student organizations face: “Would you rather build a lasting organizational tradition, or create a lasting impact on the campus community?”
While the line of questioning certainly had noble goals, disillusioned students quickly lost interest, the will to stand for votes, and, for some, the will to live.
By far the most useful product of the sessions, however, was a guide to student organization life and leadership titled “The Blueprint Rendering,” complete with a poorly-rendered blueprint of Healy Hall’s façade on the cover.
The free binder housing the document, too, was universally considered to be a step in the right direction.
In the guidebook, students found links to policy information, a list of resources available in each hosting office, and suggestions for event planning. The bulk of the booklet, though, is devoted to useful information.
The first major chapter provides navigational charts for Office of Campus Activity Facilities. Drowning in the bureaucracy of its own conception, OCAF has become a feared institution on the Georgetown campus. Sentient red tape grown in the back room can easily strangle an unsuspecting and otherwise well-planned student organization’s event.
To combat this danger, the CSP has laid the figurative soul of OCAF bare—everything from a full year’s calendar of operations to a list of equipment, spaces, and proper reservation procedures appears in the guide.
Finally, and most notably, The Blueprint Rendering contains every form an organization’s treasurer could ever need to use. Each document contains either an example or an explanation of perplexing wording as well as a general overview of the purpose of each form.
In addition to the Rosetta Stone of University paperwork, the detailed PowerPoint demonstrating each document’s use replaced the mandatory meeting formerly known as Treasurer Training, much to the joy of participating students.
Unfortunately, the joy was not instantly appreciated, since at that point in The Blueprint, most students’ eyes were fixed on the clock.
Praising Georgetown institutions is often an arduous task. The inefficiency and disconnected nature of on-campus offices prevents much communication and cooperation. Fortunately, the CSP seems to have finally grasped the full extent of this problem, and has even managed to cooperate with other campus groups to support the cause.
As self-proclaimed “advocates for student empowerment,” CSP staff members are at last taking drastic and appropriate measures to provide student-run organizations with accessible means to navigate the sea of red tape. The system is by no means perfect; The Blueprint sessions can be shorter, more focused and efficient, and somewhat later in the day to allow for maximum information intake on the part of attendees.
Still, The Blueprint is not a failure. When asked whether any audience members gained knowledge as a result, just over half of the auditorium responded favorably. While it may be somewhat disappointing to the event planners, this result demonstrates that over half of the CSP, CSJ, and Campus Ministry members are better off for having attended the sessions. And by this campus’ standards that’s enough for at least two halfhearted, still slightly hungover cheers.
Teach Kirill how to run your organization at firstname.lastname@example.org.