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MU mentor matchmakers help students pick clubs

By Katie M. Taylor
On February 14, 2013

The Miami University Office for Student Affairs plans to introduce a system to help students choose the campus organizations that suit them best.

Director of Greek life and student activities Jenny Levering said she has just begun playing with the idea.

"We are just at the very beginning stages of what that may look like, but we're hoping to create some type of student mentors that would help students connect to different organizations on campus," Levering said.

According to Levering, Miami's online student organization center, The Hub, will remain a key aspect in student involvement.

"We still have goals to make sure that everybody uses The Hub and that they go to The Hub first because that will always be our database, an online kind of connection system," Levering said. "But we hope to just couple it with outreach opportunities, for ways to get students connected."

Vice President for Student Organizations for Associated Student Government (ASG) Michael Trivelli agreed.

"[The Hub has] already kind of helped students to find out what clubs they should take a look at," Trivelli said. "I think this program, the advising program, will even further that more."

According to Trivelli, the number of student organizations has made this program a necessary addition.

"We have a really good problem here to have on campus and that problem is that we have like 450 student organizations," Trivelli said. "So it can be overwhelming, especially as a new student trying to sift through all those organizations and find out what ones really appeal to you."

Sophomore Marie Freeman, a transfer student who is currently involved in the rowing club and Spectrum, said such a program would have really benefited her.

"I think [an advising program] would be really helpful, especially for a transfer student like myself," Freeman said. "I know I came from a really small school, so for a big school with a bunch of organizations I'm not really sure which ones are the best for me and I was lucky that I heard from word of mouth these two."

Levering said observations by Student Affairs staff prompted the idea.

"Really just in the past year we've noticed, and it was prior to me being in this position, but the staff has just noticed that many people call and students come by and want to know 'how do I get involved and what organizations would be great for me?'" Levering said. "There's a need for those consultations and that advising support."

Levering said in addition to staff positions dedicated to the project, student advisors may be utilized as well.

"Potentially staff positions helping with this, and, or potentially creating a peer network or peer mentor group that would help do this," Levering said.

Trivelli pointed out that student mentors might also benefit from the program.

"I think that would be something that would be a good experience for the person who is acting as a mentor because they would probably be upperclassmen, so they'd have a good grasp of what's offered at the university, and they'd have a chance to kind of give back to the university by mentoring students who are still looking to get involved with stuff," Trivelli said.

According to Levering, she plans to get the system up and running in the near future.

"I'm hoping it's something that we can put together and work on over the summer to launch in the fall," Levering said.

Levering said Miami's current involvement rate is very high, but that the mentoring system should help further increase the number of students getting involved.

"Right now we have 83 percent of Miami students involved in student organizations on campus," Levering said. "I hope [the mentoring program will] increase our involvement numbers and help students feel like they have someone to talk to about how they can get involved."

Trivelli said this high involvement rate is what makes Miami, and that he hopes to see a continued increase with the implementing of this program.

"We're now able to track through The Hub who's involved in what, and I mean there is such a high percentage of students involved in one or more organization on campus," Trivelli said. "I think that's something that kind of defines the Miami experience, so I don't see that going away anytime soon."

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