One of the biggest challenges facing university student groups is maintaining the groups, in the face of graduation rates of student members. To keep your group alive, there are multiple steps you can take.
o One of the most important ways to develop feelings of investment among your group members is by having meetings in which everyone feels welcomed and valued. Here is a guide, adapted from the consulting organization, AORTA, for facilitating meetings. It offers tools for how to consistently participate within and guide the group with a vision for collective liberation.
– Each group meeting should have an identified facilitator – this role can rotate or the facilitator position can be decided upon for the group
– Roles for facilitator:
- Ensure that everyone gets to participate and share ideas
- Prevent interruptions and keep aware of social power dynamics
- Help the group come to decisions, be aware of time and ensure the group follows its own agreed upon rules
– Meeting helpers/ “Containers” that must be filled each meeting:
- Community agreements – what are the rules that would make your group members most comfortable and facilitate your group in its process?
- Agenda – set one and send it 48 hours before the meeting
- Bike Rack – Topics for future meetings
- Next Steps – Who, What, When, Priority
- End the meeting with listing out the follow up action steps, who is doing them, and when they will be done
– Tools you can use to make meetings awesome
- Have two people be greeters at the door at the start of the meeting
- Partner more experienced group members with new folks so that there is mentorship, support and directed inclusivity
- Start meetings with quick check-ins
- Have time for journaling/ thinking and partner share or small groups
- Do round robin/ go-around to hear from everyone
- Host part of a meeting with people standing in a circle
- Have people switch seats after a break
o In the end, you want to make sure that all folks feel like their participation in the group is important. That way, the leadership will renew throughout each year, which will help your group sustain after the upperclassmen graduate.
More tips for sustaining your group and developing your members’ capacities and investment:
o Motivate current and potential members to become and remain involved by asking them what leadership skills they have and which ones they’d like to develop – and then finding ways for them to become involved in meaningful capacities
o Show pride in your community organization, and in the contributions each participant is putting forth
o Check in with organization members self care on a regular basis
o Ask for feedback from members (both positive and negative) to make changes in organization plan if necessary
o Promote self confidence, and confidence in your organization, without this change on a community based level will struggle to succeed
o Keep a positive attitude, promote good communication, and recruit others who you believe can be a good asset to your organization
Advertise your group: flyering, tabling, announcing your group at like-minded groups (with their permission), and maintaining a presence at campus activist events