For Indiana University Recreational Sports, increasing student engagement is a top priority. The department has development unique initiatives in order to reach all groups on campus. This fall, one of these creative programs includes the GREEKtober Challenge, which is an idea the Sorority Council came up with as a way to increase participation amongst the sororities on campus.
Within IU Recreational Sports there are various councils that serve as a way to gain student input. “We think we know what students are into and looking for, but the best way to really know is to get that feedback directly from them,” said Mandy McGhee, the assistant director of marketing. “So that is what we have done with our Sorority Council. And a large percentage of the sororities on campus are represented within the council.”
In order to participate in the GREEKtober Challenge, a sorority simply needs to have a representative on the Sorority Council who attends to monthly meetings. Then throughout the month, every time a participating sorority member comes into a group exercise class, they fill out a ballot, which is located in each of the rooms.
“We calculate those on a weekly basis and we post the standings in our facilities, share it on social media and send out an email to the chapter representatives so they can see which sorority is having the most participation,” said McGhee. “At the end of the month, the winning sorority gets a private group exercise session for their chapter.”
Since all group exercises classes at IU are free to students, this seemed liked the perfect way to encourage students to try something new and stay active. “We heard from the Sorority Council that they like to compete against each other, that is a driver for them,” explained McGhee. “At IU students pay an Activity Fee that is included in the cost of tuition, so students have already paid to have access to our facilities, and that also includes more than 80 group exercise sessions a week. All the students need to have in order to attend a group exercise session is their student ID, so it is really all about increasing participation.”
This is just one example of the many ways IU Recreational Sports is working to maximize engagement among the campus community. “We have added full-time staff who are really looking at to increase engagement and participation with fraternities, sororities and within residence halls,” she added. “For example, with the Fraternity Council were really inspired by the thought of an intramural competition and the sororities were more inspired by participation challenges.”
In November, the Sorority Council will embark on another challenge, MOVEmber. Participants will track their steps using an app called Charity Miles. The more miles that are logged, the more money that is donated to their charity of choice. According to McGhee, this allows the sororities to combine physical activity, fun and philanthropy.
When it comes to student engagement, McGhee explained listening is crucial. “Do not to assume that you know what the students what to do or what is going to speak to them,” McGhee suggested. “Really take that time to listen to the students and give them an opportunity to be engaged in what types of activities and programs you are going to offer. In all of our councils, the students really get invested whenever they feel like what they are doing is making an impact or really driving what programs we are offering. So really listen to the students. Then be in a position where you can act on what you hear from them.”