Passport: ticket to nowhere for leaders

This past Saturday, all of the clubs and organizations at the College were asked to send at least three people, including two executive board members, to Passport to Programming, a conference lasting from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. that is supposed to teach leaders and other members of organizations the skills they need to be successful in their clubs.

Tim Asher, director of Student Affairs and Leadership Development, greeted the students in the morning, commenting on the wonderful turnout by the organizations. Asher seemed to forget that everyone was there because it was mandatory.

The Student Finance Board (SFB) required attendance by all of the College’s organizations or, according to an e-mail from Carol Willis of the office of Student Affairs and Leadership Development, “Organizations who do not send a minimum of three members for the entire day will lose access to their budget until training can be made up. The first make-up date will not be until mid to late November.”

Who decided that SFB has the power to hold everyone’s budgets hostage until attending this conference? And if some emergency were to keep students from attending this seminar, they wouldn’t be able to access their budget until there is less than one month left of classes.

I wish I could say it was a useful experience. Not only were these “interactive workshops” thrust upon us, but they often did not relate at all to the majority of the organizations.

Generally, if the leaders of this campus are not ready to take the helm of their respective organizations four weeks into the semester, then that organization is in trouble.

Leaders who are in charge in the fall are most likely elected the previous spring and are trained until the end of the year in their position because the predecessor is most likely leaving the organization or graduating.

As a student leader of this newspaper, I have already dealt with the problems and situations that SFB presented to the leaders of this campus on Saturday because I, along with the rest of the editorial board, have already been in my position for five weeks.

For instance, one seminar titled “8 1/2 x 11 Flyers, Publicity or Painful?” offered no guidance to anyone who wanted to build a flyer campaign from the ground up. The presenters were from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and could not even tell us the basic guidelines for submitting a flyer for campus advertising and getting approved, something you would think would be necessary to discuss.

Of the four sessions students were required to complete during the day, one was mandatory for club presidents and treasurers, a presentation by SFB. Basically, SFB took a packet of its guidelines and read from it for the entire length of the presentation.

Each of the seminars presented at Passport to Programming could have easily been replaced with an e-mailed question from organization leaders to the contact they are seeking.

Instead of spending campus dollars on lecturing and feeding the leaders of our community by requiring them to take away a Saturday of their busy schedules, leaders of organizations can simply e-mail a question to the appropriate person, such as contacting student services to find out how to book a room on campus or calling a recent alumni for advice on leading an organization.

The program offered little help to leaders on campus because the general population already knows what they are doing. The one group that might benefit from this experience is new members to an organization, but those people could probably learn more from the experienced members in their organizations than from vague, broadly-defined seminars.

For next year’s class of leaders, I suggest being less creative with the seminars and finding more ways to make them relatable to more organizations.

For instance, give a presentation on the correct way to deal with the administration when faced with a problem, give the leaders a supplemental packet of what is going to be covered ahead of time and let them decide if they need to attend or if it would be better for the organization to send younger members to ensure long-term success.

The student leaders of this campus cannot benefit from a leadership workshop until that workshop is tailored to the specific needs of their organizations.