Establishing Lifelong Connections

This summer I have been working with Dean of Students Lori Berquam along with folks from the around the university to “develop and deliver recommendations on how UW-Madison, the Wisconsin Alumni Association, and the UW Foundation can enhance and transform the affinity UW-Madison students have for the University.” Basically what this means is, how can the university support or offer ways to make students at UW Madison become more engaged on campus and feel more a part of the university.

I’ve come to realize that there is a large spectrum of engagement on campus ranging from not involved at all to highly involved in campus affairs. First I’d like to point out that I feel it’s a good thing a spectrum exists, a campus full of non involved students would be detrimental to the institution, and at the same time, this university does not have to capacity to accommodate a campus full of highly involved students. In any event the goal of this committee is again, to create recommendations to Chancellor Martin on that will instill students with a sense of value for their university.  In order to do this our committee has come up with a basic formula for achieving stronger student engagement:

Connection + Ownership = Engagement

Having a connection to the university is step number one in the formula.   A connection is “the spark”. A resource, a voice, a person, a word, it’s a tangible connection to the institution and its legacy. Furthermore, deep connections shape ownership. Ownership I see as “the opportunity”. It’s the emotion, feeling, and/or philosophical understanding of the institution and its legacy. Students who see opportunity in the resources available on campus will create ownership of what they are a part of and also the university on the whole. The combination of both connection and ownership creates engagement which is “the action”. It’s giving back either in time, financial support, ect.

A roadblock I along with the rest of the committee has come across is:

How/Where do we create ownership?

All students have a connection or “spark” to the university. They chose to attend here for one reason or another and they interact daily with the many different resources on campus. The question however still exists how do we create an environment where students understand those resources available are specific to an education at UW-Madison? (a.k.a. Ownership)

Again it is important to remember the spectrum of engagement. A highly engaged student will have a high level of ownership for their university and will take a personal responsibility to set policy, exact change, etc. (Probably where most of the people reading this stand) Whereas ownership for a non-involved student may be successfully or unsuccessfully meeting the requirements of academic coursework for personal success. Overall, through ownership students will understand the importance of activities around campus.

So this is where I need your help:

Where do we create ownership?  How might we create ownership?  Inspire ownership?  Are there units/programs on campus already doing “Ownership”?  What are our peers doing to inspire ownership?

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, questions, or whatever would be largely appreciated. I’ll be taking any and all comments posted below with me to my next committee meeting to share them with the other group members.

On Wisconsin!

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4 responses to “Establishing Lifelong Connections

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Establishing Lifelong Connections « Tom Templeton -- Topsy.com

  2. Well, the obvious way is to have more seminar or honors style small classes where the students interact directly with their professors and establish personal connections. My own experience with these courses is that I feel a much greater sense of accomplishment/pride in my work/department/school than lecture style courses.

    I know its not a thorough answer but if we want to start having students connect to their work and time on campus moreso than they are now, that is a way to do it.

  3. Personally, the only reason why my second semester was a success because I felt that I had gained some sort of ownership here at the university. I found an organization that fostered my interests and held conversations about topics that people shy away from, that I wanted to talk about and take actions on.

    It becomes tricky of how to help people gain this idea of “ownership,” and how they have the ability to carry out matters in which are important to them.

    Many of my friends complain that ASM would never support anything that they are interested in. I have received responses that ASM is not really grassroots or really “for the students” like it was in the past. Its more about changing internal legislation and spending a lot of time in the same room with individuals that you may or may not agree with.

    Issues that are controversial, I feel, are the things that may draw out student participation. Take the March for Equality that happened this past week. You had people that was both for and against the marriage of same sex couples in one place. Yes there were disagreements lingering, but the individuals that came to represent felt as if there voice were being heard.

    If you apply this to “student” terms, if you bring up and promote controversial topics, you will get a broad range of responses, and all views will be represented. Ad if you continue discussions and actions, instead of having something be a one time thing, than it will keep the student interest, and I feel, you will increase and garner students involved, thus making them feel as if this is there institution, and they have the right to respond, investigate, and act upon the topics to try and better the campus, or further discussions.

    By staying on the safe side, and not getting your feet wet in those types of things, I feel as if you will receive the same outcomes as in previous years. You have to try something new in order to try and get new responses, new involvement, a new campus feel.

    • Michael Romenesko

      I am fairly certain that the committee Tom is referring to has absolutely nothing to do with ASM, in any form.

      Further, ASM isn’t really about “grassroots” movements anymore. There are 3, sometimes 4, committees that may potentially deal with grassroots campaigns, but ASM as a whole is not.

      The March for Equality has no immediate or tangible effect for students of UW-Madison. If someone wants to create an RSO to support it, by all means, do so. However, it is not the place of ASM to do so.

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