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Club leader training needs improvement

If you are on an executive board (e-board)—any e-board—of any club, you probably got a wave of emails early in the semester about club leader training. So much club leader training. For those of you who aren’t on e-boards, let us summarize for you: mandatory modules on CampusGroups that took an hour and half to complete at least, a five-hour mandatory training day on Sept. 10 and a separate treasury training. Now, club leader training is nothing new. But this year, the Department of Student Engagement (DSE) tried to provide a more comprehensive club leader training for all students on e-boards. Whether it worked or not is a little trickier to determine.

Let’s start with the mandatory CampusGroups modules. If you were registered as an officer on CampusGroups, you were sent a series of videos, powerpoints and quizzes. The videos could be as long as half an hour each. Below each video was a slideshow containing all the information gone over in the video. And then students had to take a quick multiple choice quiz to confirm they’d gotten the information. This format was, to put it lightly, a bad idea. To start off, throwing a potentially two-hour long commitment to some of Brandeis’ most stressed and overworked students is a great way to build up resentment. Secondly, said stressed and overworked students are particularly good at finding ways to maximize their time. In the case of these modules, many students simply put the videos on in the background while getting some other work done. In fact, some club presidents actively recommended that their e-boards not pay attention to the videos. Because all the information was contained in the slideshows, it was easy to pass the quiz. Somehow, the CampusGroups training modules succeeded in being long and tedious while also making it easy for students to put in the minimum amount of effort. It’s fairly probable that nobody learned anything. 

Next is the in-person club leader training. The sentiment behind in-person club leader training is pretty sensible, but in practice it was a disaster. The Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. time slot is one of the busiest slots for student leaders. It is when a lot of e-board meetings and events happen. Otherwise, it’s when people are at work or catching up on homework. It is incredibly hard to find a student club leader who can find five consecutive free hours on a Sunday. Because of this, club presidents who were not free were often scrambling to find two e-board members who were. For clubs with small e-boards, this five hour commitment was particularly punishing because there really was no option but to go. The date and time picked was particularly punishing for theater clubs. The training fell on Sept. 10, right in the middle of the 24-hour musical, one of Brandeis’ most-promoted student events. No backup day was provided in emails sent out prior to the 10th, putting theater clubs in a particularly stressful position. This was confusing to us due to the fact that DSE outwardly promoted 24-hour while holding the club leader training during a conflicting time. In addition, the information from the in-person club leader training rarely makes it back to the e-board members who did not attend. The general conversation goes something along the lines of “did you go to the training?” “Yeah.” Cool.” And then no more is said about it. The in-person training information was ineffective at best and extremely taxing (or downright impossible to attend) at worst. The separate treasury training was a similar story, and the amount of work treasurers have to do makes the position a particularly undesirable one in the world of club e-boards. 

Being a club leader is a labor of love. You do a lot of work, usually for no pay. Students join e-boards out of the love they have for certain communities on campus. They sometimes desire to be a role model or to create new spaces, events and activities on campus. After getting a new e-board position, being bombarded with mandatory trainings and busywork makes the experience of being on an e-board a lot more unpleasant. The sheer amount of time the training modules took up was incredibly stressful. If DSE wants students to continue to want to be club leaders, then it’s going to need to have far more respect for club leaders’ time and intelligence. As of now, it feels as though we are being driven away.

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