The Center for Student Engagement (CSE) hosted the Student Organization Awards to recognize the hard work that students put into their organizations on Wednesday, April 29 in a virtual event. Awards included Small and Large Organization of the Year, New Organization of the Year, and New Student Organization Award.
“The University of Tennessee has over 500 registered student organizations,” says Marissa Gutierrez, a graduate assistant in the CSE. “Student organizations play a vital role in driving student success and give students a place where they feel like they matter and belong. They provide students with leadership opportunities, a chance to find their passions and voice, and allow them to create a community with their peers.”
Gutierrez further explains the impact that student organization has on the greater campus community. “Organizations create on-campus programs that make a substantial impact on the Volunteer, local, national, and global community. Our student organizations serve each other and the community by carrying out their mission on our campus.”
The annual Student Organization Awards allow for organizations to be recognized for the programming they host and allow for the students to also be recognized for their dedication to these groups. “We honor student organizations for their commitment to creating innovative programs and cherished communities at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville,” says Gutierrez. “Celebration and recognition of the student leaders and groups that make Rocky Top ‘home-sweet-home’ for so many is a small way to bring light to the incredible work our student organizations do every day. Cultivating transformational relationships and spaces is at the core of the mission of the Division of Student Life. Student organizations and student leaders continue to bear the torch for the campus community.”
Taking home top awards from the New Student Organization category include Women of Haslam, Engineers Without Borders, Students for Migrant Justice, and Leading Women of Tomorrow. Small Student Organization Awards were presented to Mock Trial, TISL, Knoxville Elementary Outreach, and Active Minds. Esports Club, All Campus Theatre, Relay for Life, and Coalition of Black Social Workers took home the Large Student Organization Award. Law Women and Nuclear Engineering Graduate Student Assembly were awarded the Professional Student Serving Student Organization Award and Graduate Student Serving Student Organization Award, respectfully.
During the spring semester of 2020, student organizations were tasked with figuring out how to host their events traditionally held on campus in a virtual setting. Organizations such as the Running Club at UTK has been sending out weekly running plans for members to participate in and engaged members by featuring their runs on social media. The organization recently set up a two-week running plan, where there would be a donation to a local Knoxville charity for every person that completed the plan.
Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity (Iota Alpha Chapter) has been creative in how they serve the community and planning online service activities that can be done while still social distancing. The group has also been hosting socials like Netflix chat parties to try and still engage and have fun during these hard times.
Whether in-person or virtually, student organizations have a unique impact on student’s experience, providing leadership opportunities and the chance to figure out how to engage their fellow students.