Campus Unity Project protests K-State’s changes to student organizations

The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life on Kansas State campus in Manhattan, Kan. (Photo by Justin Wright | Collegian Media Group)

Students in leadership studies are using a group project to protest Kansas State’s new policies regarding the affiliation of student organizations with the university.

On Aug. 14, K-State enacted new policies regarding the organization and affiliation of student groups. Chapter 8540 of the Policies and Procedures Manual labels student organizations as either Departmental Student Organizations or Independent Student Organizations.

A DSO is a “registered organization having a purpose that is critical to the mission of the University and that is sponsored by a department.” An ISO is any other organization “not operated by or affiliated with the University.” These changes will absolve the university of liability in many future incidents related to student organizations.

The students’ group project, called the Campus Unity Project, is being worked on for Leadership in Practice (LEAD 405). The class aims to apply “abstract concepts of leadership … to develop or hone leadership skills through work as scholars or practitioners,” said Jessica Kerr, adjunct professor and academic coach.

Jacob Boyce, junior in computer science, said the students agreed to raise awareness of the new Student Organization Policy to try and change it.

“We decided on the Student Organization Policy and the changes that it had on our campus [as it] resonated with all of us because all of us are involved outside of just attending class,” Boyce said.

Kerr said she thinks it’s important to keep K-State’s family narrative in mind.

“One of the things that I think … when I think about the narrative of family is of responsiveness and caring, and it’s very much about empathy and listening to the person in front of you and the challenges that they might be facing, and then working together to find solutions,” Kerr said.

Boyce said he feels there are a lot of people who are unhappy with the way the new policy was created and implemented.

“We as the Campus Unity Project feel that the university is taking a hands-off approach when it comes to student protection and student safety,” Boyce said. “The university wants to protect themselves against litigation — and that’s a perfectly reasonable thing for them to do, but students think that there is probably a better way to go about it and a way that it could be shaped with student involvement. What we want is to see this policy be changed, and I think that collaboration is key.”

Jerod Howard, senior in family studies and human services, said the goal of the project is to encourage more collaboration between students and administration.

“The ideal result would be students working with administration to come up with a policy that would better fit the university and the student body,” Howard said.

Kerr said the Campus Unity Project will continue to spread a message of “student vulnerability or dissatisfaction” with the help of the Collegian.

Rafael Garcia, co-editor-in-chief of the Collegian and junior in print journalism, said the Collegian’s role in the Campus Unity Project is to share the stories of those on campus.

“A lot of people have been affected, and I think that those are the stories that need to be told,” Garcia said.

For more information on the Campus Unity Project, return to the Collegian for continued coverage or find them on Twitter under the handle @CampusUnityKSU.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the ex-managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.