This past weekend, several members of The Daily Campus were subject to attending a day-long leadership retreat with other leaders of Tier III organizations. For those who don’t know, Tier III organizations at the University of Connecticut are funded by student fees and are generally the biggest, complex and most powerful student-run organizations on campus.
Tier III organizations include The Daily Campus, Undergraduate Student Government (USG), The Nutmeg Yearbook, Student Union Board of Govenors (SUBOG), UConn Student Television (UCTV), WHUS radio, and UConn Praxis. While all of these organizations have different missions and governance, one thing that they all have in common is their impact on campus. They are all intended to serve the UConn community in some way, especially undergraduate students. Most students likely don’t know what these organizations really do, but if you’ve attended any of the number of concerts that SUBOG hosts, enjoyed extra reading days before finals (a USG initiative) or gotten a video made for free for your club by UCTV, you’ve interacted in some way with a Tier III organization.
One of the most notable takeaways from the Tier III retreat this past weekend was that having diverse leaders in these organizations is very important. And indeed, the 2021-2022 cohort of leaders seems like one of the most diverse that UConn Tier IIIs have ever seen. But why should students continue to care about this, even after this year?
At a predominantly White institution like UConn it is already difficult for non-White students to feel like they have a place. If all of the groups that supposedly advocate for and tell the stories of students are made up of a singular type of person (namely, White), that would make it even more difficult. As a university community, UConn has a unique role in creating knowledge and nurturing critical thought. This role is simply incomplete without engagement from people of all backgrounds, and having diverse leadership is one way to support a sense of belonging in the community.
Tier III organizations also make a lot of decisions that consider who their constituents are and what they want. For example, SUBOG decides what artists to bring in for concerts, and Nutmeg decides what events to feature in their yearbook. As stewards of student fee money, Tier III leaders need to make decisions that are in the best interest of the student body. However, the student body is made up of people of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, socio-economic statuses and more – there are a lot of different perspectives to consider. Having a group of leaders that are as diverse as the student body ensures that they serve their constituents to the best of their ability.
Although this year’s leaders are more diverse than those of the past, students should continue to keep diversity in the Tier III organizations, especially in the leaders, in mind for years to come.