Daily lives of IUPUI students continue to evolve
Jan. 8, 2013
Like a kaleidoscope, the look and feel of campus life at IUPUI is constantly—and rapidly—changing. One day, there is a new student organization; the next, a new social or cultural program; and the next, a new opportunity for growth and development for the 30,000-plus students who have found an academic home in the heart of Indianapolis.
Overseeing it all is Vice Chancellor Zebulun Davenport and his Division of Student Life management team, determined to create a vibrant college experience for IUPUI students that takes full advantage of a major urban hub of economic, social, entrepreneurial and cultural activity.
For Davenport, who has been at IUPUI since the fall of 2011, it’s an exciting time to be part of the growth of Indiana University’s major urban campus. “So much is happening here right now, in our city and on our campus, and that gives us (Student Life) a chance to create something special for our students,” he says. “And our students are increasingly determined to become part of it all.”
All of the departments in Student Life play major roles in the growth and development of IUPUI's students. They are a part of the evolution of daily life for many IUPUI students. However, this edition will focus on student involvement, campus recreation, educational partnerships and student advocacy, and campus housing. In Housing and Residence Life, the conversion of the former University Place will increase the on-campus residential population by approximately 50 percent. The demand for Campus Recreation opportunities, from both undergraduate and graduate students, continues to grow rapidly. Student Involvement, from a growing Greek life to civic engagement and volunteerism programs to over 350 student organizations, is constantly growing in numbers and in new directions. Student Life’s newest unit, Educational Partnerships and Student Advocacy is breaking new ground for both students and their families.
“Our students are eating it up,” says the vice chancellor. “The more opportunities we create for students to develop themselves, the more they want to get involved, to engage with each other.” It helps, Davenport adds, that students feel free to contribute ideas and suggestions for Student Life to consider.
All of the Student Life leadership team — Chad Ahren (Student Involvement), Amy Wylie (Educational Partnerships), Aaron Hart (Housing and Residence Life), Julie Lash (CAPS), Steve Wintermeyer (Student Health), Joe Hayes (Campus Center), Jason Spratt (Dean of Students), Tralicia Lewis (Assistant Vice Chancellor), Rob Aaron (Director of Planning and Assessment), Andrea Anderson (Director of External Affairs) and Matt Rota-Autry (Campus Recreation) — have embraced Davenport’s primary goal: to consider themselves educators, just like their academic counterparts.
“Only our classrooms and laboratories are different kinds of spaces,” Davenport says. “Campus life helps students develop leadership skills, encourages critical thinking skills and self-discovery, and stimulates social and cultural awareness. It’s part of the total development of each student, which should be a mission for us all.”
The Student Life leaders all expect the new housing opening this summer at The Tower (the temporary name for the former hotel) to bring major change to campus.
“When you’re adding 560 students to the heart of campus, it’s nothing but good from our perspective,” says Hart. “We’ll have more activity at the Campus Center, growth in retail sales there, growth in student activities and an increase in school spirit.”
Ahren also thinks the additional 560-plus freshmen living in the heart of campus will help continue the “explosive growth in Greek life” at IUPUI. Since 2008, he notes, fraternity and sorority membership has increased by more than 300 percent. What makes Ahren even happier is the way students are managing their chapters.
“Greek life provides a good environment for learning,” Ahren says. “Our students learn how to relate to one another and to other organizations, to overcome obstacles, collaborate in achieving goals and to deal with a wide range of stakeholders.”
The same rapid growth is shaping a bright future for Campus Recreation, too, according to Rota-Autry. A recent reduction in student recreation fees launched a rapid rise in participation; nearly tripling the number of students that are involved in intramural sports and/or health-related programs.
“We’re still offering the same intramural sports we have been, but now we’re able to expand to new sports and activities which are drawing interest,” says the recreation director, who also is encouraged by flourishing workout programs. “Students also are focusing more on improving their health. Students are working out longer and more often.”
The Educational Partnerships and Student Advocacy (EPSA) office is expanding IUPUI’s horizons in off-campus services, and parent and family programs. EPSA provides parents and other family members with resources that help their students remain in school and reach their academic goals.
“We want to give parents and family members the tools they need to step up when their children encounter difficulties,” Wylie says. “We know that parents want to be involved, and to feel they’re part of IUPUI.” That will foster long-term relationships that can deepen existing relationships, but also help turn parents and IUPUI graduates into future sources of support. Early returns are encouraging, with more than 1,700 people signed up to be part of the effort.
For Davenport, the goal is clear.
“We want to create the space, and allow the students to do what they do inside the space,” he says. “At the end of the day, the students will be creative and come up with more than we could ever imagine. Our job is to feed the needs of students. They’re learning about themselves, about others and how to live and work together—and they’re learning as they go along!”