More than 30 student leaders say they weren’t aware of alumni engagement form

Media Credit: File Photo by Graeme Sloan | Contributing Photo Editor

Students said a form released by the Student Association and the Office of Alumni Relations last year was not well advertised.

Officials said a form launched last year to connect student organizations with alumni was “successful” during its pilot year, but more than 30 student leaders said they didn’t know it existed.

The form, released in September 2017 by Student Association leaders and the Office of Alumni Relations, allows student organizations to input information about upcoming events, which the alumni office then uses to connect graduates with student groups. But of the 150 student leaders from different organizations contacted by The Hatchet, two student leaders said they used the form, while 33 said they weren’t aware of the form but likely would have used it if they were given notice. The other 115 leaders did not return a request for comment.

Matt Manfra, the senior associate vice president for alumni relations, said in the form’s first year, the office connected “hundreds” of alumni with student organizations in person and through virtual programs. About 20 student organizations have used the form, “and that number continues to grow as we connect with more student organization leaders,” he said.

He said staff from the alumni office share information about the document with the Excellence in Student Leadership Series in the Center for Student Engagement. The alumni office is also working with CSE staff to promote the form on OrgSync and in student organization meetings.

“Feedback from both alumni and students has been positive as alumni reflect on fond memories of their time in student organizations while at GW, and students appreciate the opportunity to share organizational updates, upcoming events, and philanthropic initiatives with their alumni, Manfra said in an email.

Former SA President Peak Sen Chua, who helped to create the form, said the document was one of the ways the alumni office planned to improve student-alumni relations, along with events like Colonials Weekend, which he said had a relatively high turnout rate this year.

The SA had no explicit advertising campaign to promote the form during his tenure, but the document was a resource available on the SA website before it switched platforms earlier this semester, Chua said.

“Some organizations have used the outreach for updates, engagement, cultivation, incorporation of alumni for events, so like speaking at panels or career networking events,” Chua said in an email.

Chua added that some student organizations may not know about the form because the alumni office is beginning to reach out and build connections with student organizations and the general student body.

Alan Smith, the president of the Organization of Asian Studies, said his group used the form in October for an annual alumni panel, where former students can come discuss what jobs they have had after graduation. Smith said that the form was “helpful and easy to find,” but he had to do a “deep search” on University webpages to find the page because he hadn’t heard about it before.

The alumni office then gave Smith a list of four alumni who all attended the panel, he said. But he added that he likely won’t use the form again because he can use connections with the Elliott School’s alumni association to reach out to graduates, as the organization has done in the past.

“We filled out the form, and it was really helpful to sort out our ideas and know what we wanted and how we wanted our event to be,” Smith said. “But for the most part, we ended up contacting the alumni association.”

But 33 student leaders said they were not aware of the form’s existence and likely would have used it if they knew where the document could be found.

John Olds, the treasurer of College Republicans, said members of College Republicans had not been aware of the alumni request form.

Olds said he is currently organizing the College Republicans’ first alumni dinner, but he had planned to use the Alumni Association Grant Program, which can provide up to $2,500 to GW student and alumni organizations for student-alumni programming. He said the form should be more easily accessible to student organizations, and officials should advertise the resource better.

“I don’t even think a lot of other people even know about it, and that’s a huge problem,” Olds said. “Especially with the kind of diverse and experienced alumni that GW has, it’s almost a shame that we don’t have it readily accessible.”

Dakota Sinder, the president of Alpha Kappa Psi, a co-ed business fraternity, said he had not heard of the form, but met with the alumni office to discuss resources to connect with alumni.

Alpha Kappa Psi holds several social events with alumni, including an alumni reception held in the fall, Sinder said. The fraternity keeps connected with alumni through resources like newsletters and receptions, but many of those connections come from “cold outreach,” Sinder said.

“I didn’t know about the form, and I could definitely see how the average person or the average org wouldn’t know about a lot of those resources if you didn’t reach out to them,” Sinder said.

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