Campus committees hunt for student involvement

While Oswego State has 31 standing committees with reserved seats for students, many struggle for student participation. The committees cover a wide range of topics on campus, from student safety to even a committee on committees.

This trend comes despite the committees’ value for student participation. Nobody gets turned away. Even if a committee doesn’t have anymore student seats available, students eager to participate can often find a way to get involved.

“I’m always interested in talking to students,” said Joan Carroll, associate professor of accounting and chair of the Faculty Assembly at Oswego State. “I will always try to help students get matched-up and work with student associations to find the right match.”

Not only do committees value student participation, professors say students can gain valuable experience being a member. However, involvement is still lacking.  Oswego State faculty active in university committees say there are several reasons for low student membership.

According to John Kane, professor of economics and a member of the Committee of Learning and Teaching at Oswego State, it’s often hard for students to attend meetings.

“Students have a lot of classes going on, times are usually inconvenient,” Kane said.

Carroll said that there is “no benefit in assessing blame” on students for not being more involved in school committees, pointing out that Student Association often appoints students to various seats.

According to Carroll, there should be more information available to students— another reason why there’s no need for assessing blame.

“Students often aren’t aware of their opportunity to participate,” Carroll said.

“There are not very good mechanisms to get information out there,” Kane said.

John Shaffer, director of ARTswego, Oswego State’s performing arts program, also cites the lack of information as an issue when it comes to student involvement.

“The problem is, each individual committee doesn’t have an effective means of getting that information out to the whole student body,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer said he would welcome any centralized system that regularly posted committee spots.

While a committee on committees exists, the purpose of this committee is to make recommendations to the president on committee membership, review committee missions and issue rewards and recognitions for committee service, according to the school’s website.

While lack of information and schedule conflicts are preventing students from getting involved with committees, Shaffer said that student desire to become involved is not.

“Many students are interested in what we do, in the performances we present,” Shaffer said. “The problem is that participating in formal committees involves attending meetings that can sometimes be lengthy (and conflict with schedules). There is a fairly high rate of attrition as a result of that. However, we have several students that participate with us to varying capacities. Still, committees are often the hardest thing to recruit for and retain involvement.”

All three faculty members said that students who wish to become involved on committees should directly contact committee members. The Student Association and The Compass are also resources.

While many committees at Oswego State lack student involvement, there are some committees that have a satisfying amount of student members. According to Michael Flaherty, director of Auxiliary Services and chair of the Public Ceremonies Committee at Oswego State, the Auxiliary Services Board has almost full student membership.

According to Flaherty, there are 18 total seats on the board, with nine available to students. Eight of those student seats are currently filled.

The Intercollegiate Athletic Board also has strong student membership. According to Mark Humbert, director of Financial Aid and a member of the Intercollegiate Athletic Board at Oswego State, all five of the board’s student seats are occupied. Humbert said that the board has consistently seen most or all of its student seats occupied each year, which he attributes to making time for students.

“We work around the student’s schedule,” Humbert said. “Students can identify on a calendar when they’re available.”

Students interested in a committee can contact a committee member for more information. Contact information is available on Oswego.edu on the standing committees page.