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More details divulged about the associate director of student activities

Grinnell College posted a job offer for the associate director of student activities over the summer. In an interview with The S&B, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Sarah Moschenross and new Dean of Students Ben Newhouse divulged further details on the position and the changes that would come with it.

The funding for the associate director of student activities is “coming from the student activity fee,” Moschenross said. “This person would report to Michael Sims and work in the division of student affairs, and be supervised by the division of student affairs. … Last year was a year where there were no new positions being funded by the College and so this was … a solution presented for funding the position that would directly benefit students.”

The idea for the position of associate director of student activities came through the recommendation of the Task Force of Residential Learning.

“It was one of the recommendations from that Task Force that we create positions in student activities that help with creating a sense of belonging on campus by providing a diverse array of activities and opportunities for students’ leadership development and growth and support,” Moschenross said. “I think we are familiar with other college campuses having … these kinds of roles in place as a standard practice, and we felt like our students were really missing out on some incredible opportunities if they didn’t have a person in that kind of role.”

The Task Force of Residential Learning was a two-year group that convened in 2015. According to the “Task Force on Residential Learning Year One Report 2015-2016,” the president of the College “charged the Task Force on Residential Learning to ‘explore these questions, discern what clarifications and changes need to be made to the residential learning environment, and to the policies, programs, and staffing therein.’”

Specifically, the Task Force evaluated four areas: “1. Define the goals of self-governance in order to serve the mission of the College. 2. Suggest avenues to infuse the College mission into the residential experience. 3. Help students to thrive, not just survive. 4. Provide leadership development for students.”

Both Moschenross and Newhouse are excited about the associate director of student affairs who will serve as “a student-centered educator that supports the co-curricular experience of our students and student leaders,” according to the job post on the Grinnell College Careers Site.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity for students to have an adviser in the student activities position, that can be task alleviating,” Moschenross said. “I think the SGA members work really hard to provide activities for students, and so this person would help with some of those things but also advise students and provide some leadership development for students so the role wouldn’t be to take over and direct, but instead to advise and mentor and guide.”

Newhouse added that he admires SGA’s leadership and efforts to collaborate with the College to bring the best possible experience to students.

“I’ve been really impressed by SGA’s leadership in taking a look at what this means for their budget in this year, and for actively seeking to figure out how they manage the evolution of their budget in this way,” Newhouse said. “It’s clear that they’re deeply dedicated to the student experience on this campus and that’s been a really fruitful collective conversation that I’ve really been impressed by. As a new member of this community I’m thankful for the cabinet’s leadership.”

“Especially as there is transition of leadership, sometimes every semester, but easily every year, with SGA and other student organizations, that’s a re-learning process. This position can provide institutional memory, [it] can provide training and development to help ease those transitions so that students as they step into leadership roles have a better understanding about how you make events happen on this campus, how do you effectively kind of conduct the business of your organization. … I think students are having to figure out, sometimes through trial and error, sometimes through running up into barriers. I hope I would see this position being one that removes those obstacles so that our student organizations can function even more effectively,” Newhouse said.

Currently, the College has not filled the position, but hopes to within this academic year.

“So our search process is ongoing we’ve not made an offer yet but we are in communication with candidates that we brought onto campus,” Moschenross said. “We would like to get someone started, if not this semester, next semester.”

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    TrestherSep 8, 2018 at 3:23 am

    By adding this position Sarah Moschenross is putting bureaucratic barriers on 10% ($25,000 annually) from our student activities fund. And for what? So we can be like other colleges that have these structures in place?? Because a task force decided this? Unfortunately this article has no perspectives from students who are disappointed about this change and what it means for self-governance at Grinnell