Uni group organizers spend a lot of time asking themselves, “what do other uni groups do?” They can read about it all they want, but certain things can only be known through immersion (vibes, culture, etc). It may be helpful to create some form of exchange/residency program where uni group organizers spend a week-or-so with organizers at other campuses. Someone should look into this.
When I ran Northwestern EA I used to say things like, “I bet Stanford EA does this, or Columbia does that.” I had no idea. I read what they posted online, but I was ambivalent to things like:
- Their culture
- Their humor
- How they tabled
- How they facilitated
- How they delegated tasks
- How they handled disagreement
- How long they held silences
I think I could have only learned about these if I went to the universities themselves. Club culture is insanely important but really hard to explain.
I think this idea is different (enough) from the residency program, where committed EAs go to new universities to help them out at the start of the year. It’s more chill - more about learning. You don’t need to be a hardcore EA or anything like that to particpate in the exchange program.
Semester system schools tend to start about a month before quarter system schools and get out a month earlier. Schools also tend to have different spring breaks. These seem like feasible times to visit.
The process would go something like this:
- You fill out a form with your contact info, current uni group involvement, date availability, and whether you are interested in hosting or visiting
- Someone monitors the form, finds overlap, and puts the host and visitor in contact
- The two of them take it from there
Cost is a factor. Perhaps travel/living expenses could be compensated? Seems worth it to me.
Personal fit is a factor. If you go to a small liberal arts college maybe you’d want to check out another one of those. If you are a STEM school you might want to check out another STEM school. If you go to school in the UK, you may want to visit another one in the UK (would be cheaper and more convenient).
Comfort/safety is a factor. I imagine some people would be comfortable with only certain types of people staying with them. For this reason, it seems important to always contact the host first, asking them if the potential visitor seems like the right fit. A good norm might be for the host and potential visitor to have at least two conversations before a decision is made?
Steps to be taken
- Talk to reputable EAs to see if they think it's a good idea
- Create a (~5 min) form for people to fill out
- Secure funding
- Send out the form to all the uni groups
- Monitor the form and put people in touch
Who’s gonna do it?
I have a lot on my plate and don’t feel super motivated to do it alone. That being said, if someone wants to be my partner in crime I’d probably look into it. Send me a message (firstname.lastname@example.org) or book a meeting with me (calendly).