I’ve always been an involved student. Over my years at Delval my level of involvement in student activities has varied mostly due to difficulties that come with being an involved student. My freshman and sophomore years here I was involved in multiple clubs. I was even an Orientation Leader and Rambassador. I have worked in just about every department on campus. I have gone through the many processes of trying to plan events on campus as well as starting clubs on this campus and it might as well be a four credit class or a second job. As an involved student I can say that it is exceptionally hard as a student to be involved. This year I embarked on the task of starting a club at Delval for the second time, a Black Student Union. The idea started as a conversation around the observation that our black student population is increasing on campus. Not only is it increasing, but there is a disconnect between the worlds that black students come from and campus life. There needed to be a bridge for black students who come here and feel out of place. There needs to be education and spaces for black students where they can learn and address things like racism and police brutality without concern for inclusion, because our lives depend on it. In order to start a club at Delval you are required to write a constitution, show a list of potential members and advisors and events, hold an informal meeting, and present to the Student Programming Board for your club to be approved. Because our club was minority specific, we presented to the Minority Relations Council (MRC).
I chose to go through this process early in the fall semester and though all of my paperwork was submitted by September, the council was not able to vote on the club until late November. This is disheartening to students who are actually trying to be involved. During that time, there were a lot of smaller meetings and discussions to assess if the campus was ready for a black student union, if the campus had a need for a Black Student Union, all of which were outside of the voting council. Many were concerned that the club would make students feel excluded and cause an even bigger racial divide on campus. Many believed that the schools Students For Diversity club sufficed the need for black spaces. I, along with my advisors, continuously had to advocate for the needs of black students. For most black students coming to Delval from Urban areas like Philly, the dmv, and New York, where they aren’t minorities by every sense of the word, coming to suburban predominantly white Doylestown is culture shock. When the vote actually happened the council voted to enstate the club and I thought that would be the end of the controversy but it hasn’t been. Every part of this process and this presidency has come with difficulty, from getting students to attend events students asked for to dealing with inaccurate information and unnecessary, redundant, and time consuming meetings. Last month we threw our first dance on campus, though me and my officers received presidency and treasurer training and attend MRC meetings every two weeks where we gave notice of the dance, we were not notified until the week of the dance that we were the only club that does not have a budget and money of their own. Which means for every event we plan we will have to petition to either MRC or SGB for money. We were not told in the fall semester that budgets were even due to SGB for funding despite the fact that I asked if we had to submit a budget. We have constantly been told of people’s uncertainty as to what the actual process is. So with this we petitioned for the money, got approved and was then informed that all of this paperwork must be filled out prior to the DJ stepping foot on campus. Not only is the process in it of itself lengthy but this should have been a discussion earlier. Had it been discussed earlier it would not have been such a hassle. Despite the rush, the DJ still hasn’t been paid for this event. We were then told we could request special allocations that will allow us to have our own money for the rest of the semester. But then we were told that we could not because of the fact that we never presented a budget in the first place. We were then told to specially allocate for special allocations and I’m at the point in my presidency where I truly understand why students aren’t involved. My bed is comfortable. Netflix has all seven seasons of Criminal Minds and neither of those things are adding more stress to my already stressful life as a student, I have homework and exams for that. Too many times this year I’ve asked myself why am I even doing this. Who am I helping? Does it matter if it’s at the expense of me? And I know other student leaders feel it too. From every angle. So as much as people want to talk about students getting involved look at the ones who are trying to and the systems that are failing them.
Too many times the road to being an involved student is paved with unnecessary hoops and a sea of miscommunications. Too many times there are selective exceptions to an already faulty system, which is to say as broken as the overall system is not everyone goes through this. The system seems to select who it works for. I can yell. I can advocate and be in every office on campus but no full time student really has time to do that for every event. Nobody wants everything to be a struggle and a fight and that has been mine and many others experience with trying to maintain life as an involved student.