Hi Andreas,This is a different and unrelated role (you can compare the role descriptions to see more differences)We are currently doing work trials for candidates for the group support contractor role.
Hi Isaac, this is a good question! I can elaborate more in the Q&A tomorrow but here are some thoughts:Ultimatley a lot depends on your personal fit and comparative advantage. I think people should do the things they excel at. While I do think you can have a more scalable impact on the groups team, the groups team would have very little to no impact without the organizers working on the ground!
I can share some of the reasons that led me to prefer working at CEA over working on the ground:
However, there are some good reasons why you might prefer to work on the ground:
Hey Camille,Thanks for writing this and I am sorry you faced so many struggles and felt alone. Arguments around students not having time feel surprising to me. Do you feel like your students are significantly busier than say, MIT students? I would defer to you since you have more context, but I have heard the "students don't have time" answer from a lot of universities that eventually ran quite successful clubs. So I think it would be interesting to know what ENS students are doing with their time? Do more students work outside schooling or is there a cultural norm around not participating in clubs? Or is the courseload significantly more intense (I think Cal Tech might be the only example I currently know where this might be true)? I think sharing more details on what makes ENS students so busy relative to other schools could help other schools when deciding whether they will face similar problems. Also, mostly for others who are reading this and thinking about how it applies to their groups, there are some workarounds that schools have tried such as fellowships where people do the reading in the session. Many groups are happy to share their syllabi via the groups slack (though given your cultural concerns many of these may be too English and would have required editing). I think the main thing that makes fellowships the most successful (but far from ideal) innovation in groups is the consistent and recurring meeting nature of it. So would be curious to hear if you think the readings in the session version would work. I like the cozy sessions idea and have seen these be quite successful at other groups too :)I'm sorry about the communication problems you faced in UGAP and that it didn't feel like it would be useful. However, 80% confidence that a UGAP mentor wouldn’t have been right for you seems super high! I think it is pretty plausible for the reasons you mentioned that the UGAP programming would be less useful for you but mentorship is very unique to the person and flexible. So my guess is it would have still been valuable even if you mostly didn’t talk about organizing and instead talked about EA ideas and your own career. But maybe we could chat more about what made this prediction so high for you :)Again, appreciate you sharing and admire your perseverance and innovation here :)
(I lead the CEA uni groups team but don’t intend to respond on behalf of CEA as a whole and others may disagree with some of my points)
I just want to say that I appreciate you writing this. The ideas in this post are ones we have been tracking for a while and you are certainly not alone in feeling them.
I think there is a lot of fruitful discussion in the comments here about strategy-level considerations within the entire EA ecosystem and I am personally quite compelled by many of the points in Will’s comment. So, I will focus specifically on some of the considerations we have on the uni group level and what we are trying to do about this. (I will also flag that I could say a lot more on each of these but my response was already getting quite long and we wanted to keep it somewhat concise)
Hi! Just responding on the groups team side :)This is a good observation. As we mentioned in this retrospective from last Fall, we decided to restrict UGAP to only new university groups to keep the program focused. In the past, we had more leeway and admitted some university groups that had been around longer. I think we have hit a ~ plateau on the number of new groups we expect to pop up each semester (around 20-40) so I don't expect this program to keep growing.We piloted a new program for organizers from existing groups in the winter alongside the most recent round of UGAP. However, since this was a fairly scrappy pilot we didn't include it on the dashboard. We are now running the full version of the program and have accepted >60 organizers to participate. This may scale even more in the future but we are more focused on improving quality than quantity at this time. It is plausible that we combine this program and UGAP into a single program with separate tracks but we are still exploring.We are also experimenting with some higher-touch support for top groups which is less scalable (such as our organizer summit). This type of support also lends itself less well to dashboards but we are hoping to produce some shareable data in the future.
I want to chip in that several years ago it was very normal for retreat participants to chip in on the cost of the retreats. I think this is pretty normal in comparison settings (ie: student group retreats for clubs in the US) and would be excited about more groups doing a bit more of this (not necessarily all of them but I think this isn't in the option space of some group organizers right now and should be). I think this gives participants a bit more stake in the retreat going well but that is not super evidence-based.
It is also, always possible to offer subsidies/financial assistance for anyone who might find the cost prohibitive. Although, it seems important to make it very easy and nonawkward for them to flag if they need assistance (ie: in the signup form explicitly say that people are in very different financial situations and you expect some people to need this.)
In case anyone is interested, here is that piece.
I also want to express some appreciation for what you are doing. I am really glad to see this series being posted and I think it is generating a lot of useful conversation. <3
Published: Who gives? Characteristics of those who have taken the Giving What We Can pledgeThe paper I worked on with Matti Wilks for my thesis was published! Lizka successfully did her job and convinced me to share it on the forum. I'm sharing this here, but I probably won't engage with it (or comments about it) too seriously as a heads up --- this was a project I worked on a few years ago and it's not super relevant to me anymore.
Hi Robert,Thanks for the questions! I am just adding a quick response now because I think Max’s response does a good job of covering most of your questions. I would be happy to expand if you like, though.We are more optimistic now because, as mentioned, the landscape is quite different and we are testing out focusing on different types of support than before. For example, we are not currently planning on restarting the campus specialist program but are investigating things like group organizer retreats for top universities (which was a more well-received aspect of the campus specialist program).