Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Staff turnover doesn’t hurt student relationships

In the non-stop, highly demanding world of student affairs, Northwestern’s Center for Student Involvement has maintained close relationships with students and effective partnerships with student groups, despite hiring three new coordinators last year and currently lacking an assistant director.

Director Helen Wood has been at CSI since November 2002 and said she sees her staff coming together entering their first full year as a group.

“I think we’re doing very well at this point, I think everybody’s on the same page; everybody understands where we’re going and we all have the same goal of where we’re going to,” she said.

The turnover of CSI’s community service, leadership development and organizational development coordinators within the span of a few months in 2003, rather than damaging the center’s relationships with students, has instead brought the center three fresh faces, energetic to involve themselves in student life.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do, all the hours, all that’s demanded of us, if we weren’t invested in the students and if we didn’t believe in what they have to do,” said Sameer Paroo, coordinator of student organizations and leadership development.

Paroo, along with Shea Rentschler and Suzan Akin, all recently graduated with master’s degrees in higher education-related disciplines. They coordinate more than 60 student-run organizations on campus.

Besides attending numerous meetings, advising student groups on university regulations and working on contracts for 75 to 80 hours a week, the three coordinators maintain an open-door policy and meet personally with students who need help starting, running or participating in an organization.

Rentschler, who advises about 40 student groups herself and oversees organizational development, says her inspiration comes from working directly with students, like when she helped College Democrats bring Howard Dean to campus.

“I get to see it all put together and I got to see the College Democrats sitting in the front row, all excited that they actually did this and brought somebody here,” Rentschler said. “It turned out to be a great event and they packed (Pick-Staiger Concert Hall). That energizes me to go on and help them with whatever they need next and that’s how I deal with any of my groups.”

Though Paroo, Rentschler and Akin all made it clear that they are working at “entry-level positions” in the field of student affairs — where jobs turn over about every three to four years — they said this does not prevent or hamper relationships with students.

“The thing about a personal relationship is that it doesn’t have an end date,” said Akin, coordinator of student community service.

Elaine Kanak, a Weinberg senior who has worked with Akin as a Dance Marathon committee member and executive co-chairwoman, also didn’t see a problem with the staff shuffling.

“I was working with Suzan my Junior year, and that was her first year here, and she did a phenomenal job,”she said, “Assuming she has plans of moving on at some point, that has not had any impact on her relationship with us.”

Gia DiGiacobbe, an Education senior who also dealt with Akin as treasurer and president of Alternative Student Break, said that “the typical lifespan of a student leader is only a year.”

“Turnover in CSI is not a big factor because student groups turn over as well,” she said. “I think you could really only have a young person fresh out of college in the position because they have the energy to deal with things.”

Reach Evan Hill at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Staff turnover doesn’t hurt student relationships