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Alumni Affinity becomes focus of 2018 Homecoming

Barbara Meek ('90), Director of the Office of Alumni Relations, stands beside Dr. Holly Baumgartner, Dean of the Getty College, at the ONU Alumni House (photo/Helen Heinig).

Barbara Meek ('90), Director of the Office of Alumni Relations, stands beside Dr. Holly Baumgartner, Dean of the Getty College, at the ONU Alumni House (photo/Helen Heinig).

ONU ‘90 alumna and director of alumni relations Barbara Meek took the podium at Senate’s most recent meeting Sept. 19. Meek, in preparation for Homecoming, wanted to address a couple of policy changes related to student organizations and the Homecoming tent.

According to Meek, the Office of Alumni Relations’ purpose is “to build, sustain, and recognize relationships to support ONU.”

Roughly two weeks ago, the Office of Alumni Relations sent out a campus-wide email to remind everyone of its unique services, which include promoting alumni affinity engagement and organizing Homecoming.

Alumni affinity engagement is a new initiative that looks to “alumni affinity groups” to develop and maintain relationships with ONU alumni. These groups may include fraternities, sororities, student organizations, professional societies, or athletic teams.

“Alumni affinity engagement keeps our alumni connected to those areas on campus in which they were most involved as students,” Meek said. “Many times, alumni have a stronger bond with their affinity than with the general university.”

Homecoming, as Meek puts it, is a time for alumni to observe student-driven successes and growth since they’ve left “the tundra.”

One concern Alumni Relations has had in the past is the use of alumni as a target for solicitation of funds. In an attempt to combat this, groups who wish to reserve a table under the Homecoming tent are required to fill out a solicitation form.

Meek said that while the option to sell something is available, she does not want to see too much fundraising as it can send the wrong message to alumni.

“Fundraising is not a turnoff.  It's a necessary evil! We just do not want our alumni to be "nickeled and dimed" the entire time they are back on campus for Homecoming Weekend,” she said. “We want our students to show our alumni what they are all about.  Our students and student organizations do some pretty amazing and cools things. We think of the activities tent as a "show and tell." It is a time to shine!”

Following Meek’s presentation, Senate Parliamentarian Jeff Alexander motioned to approve two Senate bylaws amendments this week, one of which suggested the reintroduction of a Student Planning Committee (SPC) representative. According to President Seth Ferguson, both Senate and SPC had close relations with one another many years ago. The SPC representative position had been removed or forgotten sometime during the last two decades; Senate officers would like to reestablish this position.

The representative would assume all duties and voting rights—like any other senator. The goal, Ferguson said, is to recreate closer relations with SPC since both groups are very similar.

That motion passed almost unanimously.

Senate also unveiled a draft of its proposal to extend visitation hours.

Currently, ONU’s visitation policy states that the freshman dorms, sophomore dorms, and Affinity complex have a set visitation period. The freshman dorms’ hours end at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The sophomore dorms observe the same limitations with the exception of Friday and Saturday, both of which allow open visitation.

According to the proposal, drafted by Housing Secretary Haley Kessinger, Senate suggests visitation hours be pushed back by one hour for the freshman dorms and Affinity complex. Affinity, however, would not have visitation hours Friday or Saturday as its shared-dorm design would not give individuals a private space to avoid distraction and excess noise.

The proposal read, “These revisions had many considerations taken into account, including most students study until around 12 a.m., in the library, which is when it closes, and also wanting some accountability for roommates with no individual spaces to be taken into account. Together we believe these revisions are fair and appropriate after looking into other Universities in the surrounding area.”

Haley had an abundance of input prior to the announcement of this proposal. She consulted Justin Courtney, Director of Residence Life; members of Senate; and Senate President and Vice President Seth Ferguson and Mary Komandt, respectively.

“We’re hoping this passes as it’s written and maybe, in the future, expanding it more and making it a little more flexible in other areas,” Kessinger said.

“I think we took a lot of concerns into consideration when writing [the proposal]. I know one of the biggest opposing views was [in regards to] the freshmen dorms; we had to take into consideration [the fact that] roommates don’t have their own space to retreat to past that time, along with Affinity, which was a lot of what drove our decision.”