By Andrew Tran & Kevin Soto-Ciriaco, University of California, Santa Barbara
One is not expected to sprint at birth ─ they must first learn to crawl, walk, then run to wherever their dreams take them. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) SASE began its crawl in the not-so-distant 2014–2015 school year at UCSB. Founded and led by six goal-oriented students driven by a shared vision, UCSB SASE would begin its journey towards its first national award: the Inspire Award.
As a budding UCSB chapter, SASE could not magically grow overnight, spiraling up to the domains of stars and giants. Instead, SASE required constant attention and care from its officers and devoted members, who watered and tended it through careful planning, goal-setting, and hard work.
In keeping with our pillar of academic excellence, UCSB SASE has always said to “put school first.” It has been paramount that the officers can help each other strike a balance between devoting time to the UCSB chapter and to their own studies such that no individual board member is overburdened by either for too long. In doing so, board member responsibilities have often been flexible with officers filling in roles and positions as necessary, just as cogs of a clock shouldering each others’ weights to ensure timely execution. This is a cherished point of pride at UCSB SASE: We neither allow our officers to suffer academically, nor let them make like Atlas and shoulder the weight of the club.
The initial board set a precedent when making our young UCSB chapter become current UCSB SASE: a board meeting every week, a General Body Meeting every two weeks, and an event at least every other week whether professional or social. As we charted our chapter’s course, we made sure to continually include the three guiding pillars of UCSB SASE: professional development, academic support, and community involvement. As predicted, we were not the only organization on campus to promise similar services to our members. This continues to push us to this day to deliver a unique experience to our SASEters and craft a unique brand for UCSB SASE.
Today we have become bigger and more determined to keep striving for our best. We still follow some of the rhythm of our early chapter’s practices ─ one board meeting every week, one general body meeting every other ─ but thanks to our experience and larger general body, our socials, professional events, academic involvement, and community involvement are greater than they were before. We have one academic event a week, one or two socials a week, a professional workshop at least once a week, and at least two volunteering opportunities for our members each quarter. Of course, this kind of planning would not be feasible if there were not constants like weekly study sessions and social events such as #SASEFit (working out together). All other events ─ social, academic, or professional ─ are planned two weeks in advance to make sure we can provide the best quality of events to our members.
We are running into our 3rd year of being a SASE chapter, and being a relatively young chapter allows us liberties that older chapters may not have. Most importantly, we can establish a culture for future SASE board members to adopt. We want to create an atmosphere so that all who want to join can feel welcome no matter who they are ─ all walks of life are welcome.
Making SASE welcoming is one of our biggest concerns with every event that is planned. Our executive board does not stay together and chat during general body meetings. Instead, we consciously break ourselves apart to talk to new people, getting to know them and then introducing them to strangers to reach a point where everyone knows everyone else. We make it feel like a home away from home ─ something to look forward to while at school. When you go to a SASE event, we will always have someone there to greet you and hang out with, people who know who you are and are glad to see you there.
With this mentality in mind, treat your members as you would treat any close friends. The members allow the club to exist; they validate its purpose; they are the blood of the system. We have grown substantially in numbers since our humble beginnings, but our members are not numbers ─ they are a part of us, and they are our SASE family. Having a large member base is great, but do not forget that having a large number of members does not mean much if no one knows each other. It will become an almost corporate-like experience where there is only business and no joy.
We want to leave you with these words. Growing is no small challenge, but one must always challenge themselves to do their best. When faced with adversity, remember that all people are capable of great things. Aim to inspire those around you ─ when you dare to go out and make change happen, people will always follow. Go out there and dare to do the impossible.
SASE UCSB Chapter was awarded the 2016 Outstanding New Chapter award at the 2016 SASE National Conference in Dallas, TX.
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