Collaborative student organizations help community more

Rachel Freeman

With more than 1,300 registered student organizations at UT, a student can think of any issue and, odds are, there’s a student organization dedicated to it. However, with so many organizations it can be hard to choose which to join for a specific cause. Particularly if multiple organizations support the same cause. 

To combat sexual assault should a student join It’s On Us, Voices Against Violence, or the Gender and Sexuality Center? In the interest of best serving the community, groups with similar goals should reduce competition among organizations and work together to help new students find their best fit. 

Every organization works hard to spread awareness for their cause and promote their group. However, when an organization focuses too much on why people should join their specific group as opposed to another, they waste time that could be spent educating about their efforts in support of their cause. In doing so, the organizations counteract each other, and awareness of the cause is lost for the promotion of the group. 

Many interested students will choose only one organization per issue they are interested in. This creates a situation where multiple similar groups are competing against each other to try and recruit the same finite number of interested students. By splitting people-resources, organizations are creating smaller talent pools everywhere. 

Every important quality, leadership, ideas and strategies are split among groups. Though one group may succeed in one or even a few categories, each group individually will not be as good as it would be with everyone together.

To solve this membership problem, groups should avoid competing  with each other for prospective members. Instead they should try to help each student find their best fit. The organizations can do this by being knowledgeable, connected and willing to provide  information about a range of organizations on campus. If every organization with a central topic (homeless, obesity, etc.) did this, they would likely gain more total and active members. 

This bird’s eye view information could be communicated in person, or in a flyer about all similar organizations and the ways each differentiates itself. HornsLink already exists to inform students about different groups but the system is confusing and doesn’t provide enough detailed information for students once they’ve found the list of organizations concerning a specific topic. A face-to-face conversation can explain the structure and goals of an organization better than a few lines on a website. In this way the organizations will be able to take some of their attention off promoting themselves and putting the focus back on their mission.

Instead of working separately and using limited resources, similar organizations should try to communicate among themselves to solve common problems. To share ideas and resources, club leadership should have meetings with each other to communicate about successful strategies. Working together through communication among themselves and to the student body, Longhorns can better help change the world.

Freeman is a international relations and global studies junior from Cedar Park. Follow her on twitter @rachel_frmn.