Operating Your Student Organization Remotely

There are approximately 300 student organizations to get involved in at TCU in a variety of different focuses and interest areas: academic, honorary, service, religious & spiritual, sport club, Greek, political, social justice, fine arts, and special interest. To learn more about what student organizations are at TCU, visit TCU Engage (log in by using your single sign-on username and password) and you can search through opportunities by looking for a particular organization or typing in a keyword.  If you are interested in learning more about specific organizations and meeting student organization leaders, you can attend our fall Organizations & Activities Fair – details will be coming soon. Contact the Office of Student Organizations to learn more, studentorganizations@tcu.edu or 817-257-7307.

Student Organizations may begin on-campus meetings or activities on the first day of academic classes, August 17. Student organizations must follow updated occupancy guidelines based on physical distancing recommendations, capacity within spaces and participants must wear face coverings.

Please know during this time, you can still request a virtual meeting or phone call with someone in the Student Organizations office.  Please email dede.williams@tcu.edu to do so and we are happy to connect with you!

Know that your advisors are still a very impactful resource for you so please reach out to them and keep them updated on what you are doing in our ‘new normal’ in terms of the operations of your organization.

As always, if you need any guidance or help with any aspect of your organization, do not hesitate to reach out to our office. We are more than happy to help you navigate this new terrain and help you to set up your organizations for success in the Fall. Just let us know how we can be helping you and making this a less stressful time!

Things have changed – meetings in person have been cancelled, everyone is taking classes online and your members are living all over the nation and world now.  No one’s quite sure when things will be back to normal but as a leader, you can still keep your members connected and engaged during a time like this!  Here are a few tips on how you can exercise strong leadership by maintaining your member engagement:

  • Provide a Way to Stay Connected: Your members joined your organization to connect with other students on campus as well as to be engaged in something they are interested in. For that reason, you want to ensure that your members have a way to stay connected to prevent feelings of isolation and also to ensure their continued involvement in your organization when everyone returns in the Fall.  Here are some tips to stay connected:
    • Schedule a weekly, bi-weekly Zoom (or Google Hangout or Microsoft Teams) meeting – send out invitations on several communication channels so members know about them
      • Keep in mind you now have members in a variety of time zones so you will want to think about that when considering the times you choose
      • Remind members of them as the time gets close to increase participation.
      • Meetings can be brief – just casual check-ins to chat, see who needs help, and swap tips on online learning, living with parents again, whatever you see fit!
      • Zoom meetings can seem impersonal but for many of your members, they’ll provide the human connection that they need when such a valuable resource is in short supply.
      • You may want to record the meeting and post to your Engage page, website or social media if a member can’t attend.
      • We recommend still having an agenda and minutes for your meetings for historical purposes.
    • Schedule executive / leadership board weekly or bi-weekly meetings for the same reason you need to with your general body but also to ensure that as a leadership team, you are all on the same page, still communicating and continuing the vision you all had together
    • Have an active GroupMe or social media avenue for people to connect on
      • You can create a forum to share ideas for events/programming here, go over next steps on officer elections or transitions and even just share memes – this should be a space for fun too!
      • Instagram Takeovers – you could assign an officer or member a day of the week to take over your organization’s account (a day in the life of…)
      • Tik Tok – you could make a fun (and appropriate) video and challenge other organizations to do the same
      • Storytelling – you could share pictures of what your organization has done or accomplished this year
      • Use the hashtag #TCUTogether when posting to have your organization connect to the larger TCU initiatives during this time when we are all living/working/learning remotely, and to showcase your organization on TCU’s channels
    • If you are linked with a local or national organization, connect with your headquarters staff or website for resources they may have (new timelines, videos, trainings, etc.)

 

  • See Who Needs Help in Your Organization: With disruptions in housing and meal plans, some members may need resources or emotional support. Also, you probably have members ready and willing to help.  Let your members know that the organization, its leadership, and its members are there for them. 
    • Find out who they are and if you can, assist them or if it is a larger needs, know that TCU can help. Here is a link to TCU resources (https://studentaffairs.tcu.edu/virtual-support-services/ or https://www.tcu.edu/coronavirus/students.php) and if you don’t find what you need, email me at williams@tcu.edu   
    • Even if your members do not need help, see what your organization can do to set up opportunities to serve and assist others in a time of crisis. This sends a powerful message about the power of your community.  It shows you aren’t just here to build your resume or for the social aspect – you are here to ensure your mission, purpose and values are being upheld.

 

  • Continue to Pursue Your Organization’s Purpose: You can offer your members opportunities that are ‘on brand’ with your organization’s purpose and continue to operate even though it is remotely.
    • Is there a workshop or gathering you were planning on having in Spring? Consider placing that event online.
    • If you have a cause your organization is passionate about, host an online education session on Zoom for your members and open it up to the entire TCU campus.
    • While you may not be able to promote your online event or initiative physically on campus through lawn signs, posters, etc., you can post it on TCU Engage or What2do.tcu.edu to still get your message out. Create a flyer, post it online, and encourage your members to share with others to recruit others to attend.  This is a way you can even gain members during this very different time in your organization!
    • Other ideas:
      • If you are a leader of a sport club, you can offer members a custom workout routine or plan, or send out opportunities/links to companies who are providing free workouts or meal plans. Reach out to the Rec Center for more ideas.
      • If you are a leader of a service organization, you can offer ways to serve and volunteer virtually. Reach out to the Office of Community Engagement as they have some great offerings online now.
      • If you are in a performing arts organization, consider ways to livestream your skills or provide opportunities for your members or other TCU students to practice their craft online.
      • Do a fun, engaging challenge such as bingo, play Kahoot to get to know one another more, watch a movie together on the Netflix app (https://www.netflixparty.com), use Jackbox Games to play games together (https://jackboxgames.com), etc.
    • While you may not be able to have in-person end of the year events and celebrations, we encourage you think about how your organization can still celebrate, honor and recognize members and accomplishments of the organization.
      • Host a virtual banquet or ceremony
      • Shout out individual member’s accomplishments on social media
      • Mail out recognition items to your members that your organization had planned to distribute (in this time, people do enjoy receiving packages and mail!)
      • Find creative ways to recap the year (infographics, videos, PPT with photos)
      • Celebrate your graduating senior members in a fun, unique way

Even as COVID-19 is disrupting our daily lives, you can still find ways to utilize your leadership skills to keep your members healthy, informed and engaged so that when Fall comes around, they are even more eager to pour in to your organization!  Don’t forget to take care of YOU –  remember what is most important – health, family and relationships.

With everyone not being physically in one place, you will need to consider how your organization wants to conduct virtual elections.  It is helpful to consult your organization’s constitution to see what is historically in place in regards to elections (timing, logistics, rules, etc.)  Here are some options:

  • Hold a Zoom Election with the members of your organization. Before the election date, have members of your organization submit an email to the President or another member of your Leadership Board that they are interested in running and for what specific position they are running for. Once you have every name of everyone interested in running, email out the names of the candidates to your organization members so they are aware of who is running. Then, on a date specified, have a Zoom election where each candidate prepares a 1 to 2 minute speech. Once everyone has given their speech, hold an election online using TCU Engage or another online format.
  • Hold an election using pre-made videos from candidates. Ask that any member that is interested in running for a position submit a video link of a pre-made speech they recorded to a member of your Leadership Board (through YouTube or another online resource). That Leadership Board member will send out an email to the links of the videos of each candidate, and will then open up an online election through TCU Engage or another online format.
  • Have candidates create a poster or “Meet the Candidate” document. On this document or poster, candidates can post their ideas and why they should be elected for a specific position. Each candidates’ document will be sent out through a “candidate newsletter” to members of the organization either through email or TCU Engage. Members will then vote on TCU Engage or another online format.
  • Have candidates fill out an application document. The Leadership Board would create an application for anyone that is interested, and send it out to every member of the organization. Candidates will fill out this application and send it back to the Leadership Board, who will make a decision.

 

Engage Elections How-To Steps:

Here are the tips on how to have a TCU Engage Election, if you choose that route is the best for your organization:

  • Under organizational tools, select the dropdown menu option “elections.”
  • Once you are in this tab, select “+create election” in the top right corner.
  • Through this tab, you can add a title of the election, instructions, and indicate the start and end date/time of the election.
  • You can then create a ballot of who is running.
  • Once you have created the election, you can share the link under the tab “publishing options.” There is a URL created for your specific election you can share through email or other media.
  • Once the election is over, you can export and view results under the “results” tab of your election.

 

Another option is that you can postpone your elections (if you are able to) to the Fall.  You can do this option regardless of what the timing is stated in your Constitution regarding elections, given the current circumstances.

As we all continue to navigate our new virtual worlds, we want to continue to be setting organizations up for future success. One really important step in that is considering how your organization will be doing officer transitions.

  • Beyond the obvious step of changing officer titles in Engage, you will also need to be thinking about how officer trainings will now take place. Here are the tips for changing officers in Engage:
    • You can manage current positions (when you need to transition your officers on your roster – if all leaders are already in the roster – by pressing the pencil button next to the member’s name and selecting the updated role.) Remember to remove the position for former leaders by clicking on the pencil button and unclicking their position.
    • To add/change officer positions by clicking on “manage positions” in the top right corner of the roster page (when you are in Manage mode and in your organization’s roster). This will provide a list of the current positions for the organization.  You can add a position by clicking “+ position”.  Fill out the position name and type.  It is always a good idea to click on “show holders of this position on the
      organization’s public roster” so that everyone knows who to contact depending on the leadership role and function.  You can also determine their level of access – no access, limited access or all access, depending on your organization’s structure and needs.
  • The Office of Student Organizations strongly recommends that you continue to have virtual Executive Team or Leadership Board meetings within your organization, if anything just to check in and see how one another are doing.
  • As far as officer transitioning and trainings, we recommend that you schedule Zoom or FaceTime calls to educate new officers on what the position entails and the key information they need to know. It may also be helpful to write up executive summaries of the duties of each officer, and those may be distributed easily to incoming officers. If you do not know where to start with that, your constitutions should all have a breakdown of each position’s roles and responsibilities.
  • Additionally, it may be that you have physical documents or binders that you need to give to a new officer. Remember that this will need to occur at some point to ensure that the new officer has all items to ensure success – whether that happens now or when everyone returns to campus.
  • For seniors who are transitioning out of leadership and graduating, it is imperative that these changes are reflected in Engage before the semester ends. You can remove graduating seniors or those that are no longer at TCU by clicking on the member’s name and clicking on End Membership.