Campus / News / January 12, 2011

Workshops teach clubs new skills

On Jan. 5, 17 aspiring leaders braved the cold weather to attend a recruitment workshop in the Wilson House. It was the latest installment in a series of leadership workshops offered by the Campus Life Office and run by Assistant Director of Campus Life Jill Gates. Gates covered topics that were broad enough to apply to any organization, but also addressed specific concerns raised by the attendees. The topics covered could fit into three top-level categories: selecting prospective members, communicating with prospective members and orienting members with the goal of sustaining the organization.

As the workshops are geared towards all clubs and organizations, Gates did not, for example, turn to the fraternity members and tell them how to run a rush event. Instead, she impressed the effectiveness of recognizing the strength of a potential member and showing them how the organization can satisfy their individual interests. Perhaps the nugget of information most applicable to any organization for any purpose was the deprecation of treating others as one would want to be treated.

“I want you to forget the golden rule,” she said, “I want you to remember the ‘platinum rule,’ which is to treat others as they themselves would like to be treated.”

Reviews of this workshop were generally positive. Panhellenic president and senior Anne Horrell “thought it had a lot of good points.” Junior Hannah Fidoten said, “The workshop presented the material in a concise and helpful manner.”

According to Gates, the idea of offering leadership workshops has been bouncing around the Campus Life Office for a while. It turns out that many other colleges offer programs like this, and that in this respect Knox is behind the curve. There was a general feeling that the quality of campus life could be improved significantly by working with four key demographics: club leaders, RAs, Greeks and Student Senate. The push to make it actually happen started last fall. Gates, who is new this year and did her graduate work in organizational leadership, was a perfect candidate to run the series.

So far Gates has hosted four events this year, two of which have been themed on communication skills. Before this term the series was in a testing mode of sorts, so advertising was minimal and attendance was low. This term, campus-wide emails have gone out and posters were put up around campus. It seems to have worked because the attendance at this workshop, which happened on only the 3rd day of school, exceeded the highest attendance for last term, which was 15. She hopes to maintain a steady attendance and promised that, while this workshop was a lecture, future workshops will be more interactive including team development and role-playing. She also said that there is no sequence to the workshops, so missing one should be no deterrent to attending the next. Gates also said that she has dedicated afternoons every day to advising clubs.

Maxwell Galloway-Carson

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