LEAPing into the Office of Student Engagement

LEAPing into the Office of Student Engagement

Autumn Dixon

At the start of the 2018 academic year, the Leadership Experience and Program Office (LEAP) formally changed its title to the Office of Student Engagement (OSE). 

While the office’s name has changed, its functions remain the same as before. The OSE is still responsible for providing support for clubs and organizations, running the Event Management System, Poet Entertainment, and supporting both Societies and the Associated Students of Whittier College (ASWC) Senate.

Dean of Students Joel Pérez has considered this change after he first started working at Whittier College in 2015.  Pérez is the temporary Direct Advisor of ASWC while the College restructures the titles and responsibilities of administrators working for OSE. This is not a result of the name change, but is because a number of administrators — including Debbie Allison and Xiaopan Xue — left the College over Spring semester and summer. “Once we decide on how we’re going to staff the office, that function will go back to the Office of Student Engagement, where it was before,” said Pérez. 

The only staffing changes that will occur from within the office are titles, as some staff will have to shift roles as a result of previous staff leaving the College before the 2018 – 19 academic year. A chart was sent to students via  Student-L email on Sept. 17 with the names and titles of staff members currently working in the OSE. 

Concerns regarding support for clubs and organizations can be directed to Deanna Merino-Contino at dmerinoc@whittier.edu. Concerns regarding support for Societies can be directed to Jordan Laffin at jlaffin@whittier.edu, and event management can be directed to Eva Covarrubias at ecovarrubias@whittier.edu.

Pérez cites two reasons for changing LEAP’s name to OSE. “I felt the name student engagement better reflects what the office is doing,” said Pérez. “Also, looking at national trends and seeing what other institutions were doing around those types of offices and the titles of their engagement offices.”

Pérez also believes that that the functions of an office of student engagement are more self-explanatory than an office of leadership experience and programs. “I would say that, from an external perspective,” said Pérez, “people really like the name change because it’s easier to explain what the office does, so there’s been receptivity to that because it helps brand the office better.”

Pérez said that he wants to create a holistic, transformative experience for students who attend Whittier, and that a large part of fulfilling this vision is encouraging student engagement. He believes that LEAP’s new name reflects this. “It’s always the goal … to give [students] more opportunities to engage with each other, as well as to the campus community or to the campus,” said Pérez. “So, my hope is that, now the name reflects what we’re trying to do, that there’d be an increase in efforts made to create more opportunities for students to engage.”

Students with questions or concerns regarding clubs, organizations, societies, or other student engagement activities can visit the OSE office on the first floor of the Campus Center, next to the bookstore.