Over the summer of 2020, Assistant Director of Student Activities Bridget Webster and other faculty conducted two rounds of virtual interviews. According to Webster, her coworkers were selecting students who had a passion for helping others for board positions to form the newest campus student organization—the Student Leadership and Activities Board.
SLAB is a combination of Indianapolis Student Government, Campus Programming Board and Residence Hall Association. According to Webster, one of the big purposes of moving these organizations together was to help students know exactly where to go for any issue they had.
“They all did different things on campus, however, they all had the purpose of involving students, advocating for their voice,” Webster said. “So we decided to put these three together to funnel involvement into one channel. SLAB is a place for students to go and find involvement easily.”
Though the group may be starting from the ground up, Webster said the group is going in with excitement to this school year because of that. According to Webster, students on SLAB will be able to create their own experiences to an extent and work all throughout the year to have students learn more about their organization to continue to make improvements to serve UIndy’s community.
Having three staff advisors, including Webster, means that each of them can take on different roles for final decision making. Webster will be working mainly on social justice and engagement, as well as commuter engagement, Assistant Director of Student Affairs Nicole Schultz will work on campus programs that include campus traditions and Assistant Director of Student Affairs Robbie Williford will work with the members who deal with residence life.
There will be public town hall meetings held twice a month, according to Webster, which will most likely be virtual.
According to Webster, although some of the events students hold may have to be virtual, Marketing and Major Programs Chair of SLAB and sophomore marketing major Abigail Gehres said their events should help people feel a little less isolated.
“I feel like going to events around campus, or even just virtual events, can help you in these hard times [to] connect with other people,” Gehres said.
Gehres said SLAB will personally help her gain a better perspective of campus and be able to connect with all Resident Student Organizations on campus more. One issue Gehres could see is having the entire semester move online, but Gehres said she thinks SLAB could work around that by having virtual meetings.
SLAB has plans to open up the board further, according to Operations Chair of SLAB and senior psychology and international relations double major Craig-Anesu Chigadza. A SLAB council will be formed, with no GPA minimum, to try and include more student voices on the board to help make decisions, working directly with the executive board, Chigadza said.
What the SLAB council aims to do is to create opportunities to assist in campus programming, experiences such as leadership development, mentorship and building experiences in someone’s area of interest, according to their MyUIndy page. Application for the council will go live when school commences, Webster said, but SLAB’s MyUIndy page has the general campus leadership position interest form open as well.
According to Webster and Chigdaza, SLAB will help present ideas to faculty to make changes on campus, but will still focus on sports teams, residence halls, programming and getting people on campus to talk about important issues. Chigdaza said having commuters feel included and having social justice be upheld on campus are just some of the important issues the board will see, and they have dedicated positions that will listen to these areas.
One very important thing Chigadza sees being a part of SLAB this year is providing incoming freshmen with the same Greyhound experience the rest of the students have had, despite the pandemic.
“The freshmen that are coming in [during] a time where nobody else has experienced it,” Chigadza said. “So the opportunity to be at the table where those decisions were made, to have that opportunity to be on the front lines, per se, of engaging those freshman students and being able to give them the typical Greyhound experience that we’ve all had was extremely, extremely attractive to me [when] applying [to] and accepting the position.”
Chigdaza saw COVID-19 as a fast track or changed the plans of how SLAB was going to be implemented. Chigadza said one cannot always look at the pandemic and say it ruined every plan, rather it has provided some opportunities to become more efficient, to become more understanding and considerate of the situations others may be in.
“We might be physically distant, but as Greyhounds, we want to exist in the same space ideologically. Which is sharing what is most important and what is going to drive us forward as a campus community,” Chigdaza said.
With time, Webster said she hopes to reach more faculty and staff and share with them why SLAB is important to campus. Webster said the members of the board are passionate about helping others and being involved in the UIndy community. Webster said she hopes that students will see this passion, recognize the SLAB board members and will want to voice student concerns to them.
If students need to contact SLAB, they can be reached on Instagram and Twitter at their handle, @UIndySLAB, and through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.