Reputation and awareness are challenges for the student association, say directors.
The Commerce and Administration Students’ Association (CASA) is looking for ways to increase student involvement.
Last Tuesday, CASA passed a motion during its board of directors meeting to create an ad-hoc Student Involvement Committee, following an extensive discussion about the challenges of involving more students in their associations and committees.
The goal of this new committee consists of finding solutions to increase student involvement and then make recommendations to the board. While it has yet to meet, the committee will be composed of a chair, six members, and possibly a first year representative.
“We do need to think of how can we get our information out there. How can we best communicate all the events, the workshops that CASA does and how can we bring that out?” said CASA’s Alumni Director, Adrien Néret, who is the chair of the new ad-hoc committee.
The President of John Molson International Business Association, Arthur Soares, tabled the issue at the meeting, as he believes some students have a negative perception of CASA.
“I’m sure there’s [sic] different feelings for different people […] and I also feel like there’s people that don’t like us, maybe because we don’t portray the right image or something,” he said. “But then again, I don’t know the numbers.”
Maurice Ngwakum-Akisa, independent director on CASA’s board of directors, shared the same sentiment.
“We have a really strong culture here at JMSB [John Molson School of Business], either you love it or you hate it,” he said. “You know it’s very hard to find people that are in the middle of the spectrum.”
Other board members, such as Isaiah Joyner, independent director on CASA’s board of directors and one of the new committee’s six members, disagreed. Joyner believes that in order to encourage more students to get involved in the association, CASA must work on communicating the services and opportunities available to students more effectively, rather than focusing on its reputation.
“CASA has a very good image with the students overall,” said Joyner. “Sometimes, when they want to take that step further and be the ones getting involved, they just don’t know who to talk to.”
In order to establish what they should focus on, the committee’s members will use the results of a survey CASA conducted among JMSB students last winter. The survey aimed to find out more about the students’ demographics and knowledge of CASA.
“The idea of this committee would really be to put some numbers behind that and really see what people think of the organization,” said Néret. “Do we need to improve that sentiment, or how do we just get our information out there better?”
Some board members felt that their office space in the JMSB building may seem intimidating to students who are not yet involved and this may work against CASA’s image.
“You can tell there’s a difference between involved students and non-involved students,” said Joyner. It’s about “being in an environment you’re not familiar with.”
Soares stressed that increasing the number of people who are aware of CASA’s activities and who participate in them is the most pressing issue for his student organization.
“If not enough people attend your events, well, then you don’t exist, and I think we should exist because we add a lot of value.” Soares said.
Photo by Hannah Ewen.