Q&A with Mark Kidd, Director, Student Activities
Posted: May 13, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
Q&A with Mark Kidd, Director, Student Activities
Editor’s note: This weekly question-and-answer column with George Mason administrators appears every Thursday in the Daily Gazette.
By Megan McDonnell
What are the responsibilities of your office?
Student Activities is really a dynamic, student-centered office whose mission is to facilitate student involvement and to help students feel a part of the campus community. There are three major components to the office: fraternity and sorority, or Greek, life; programming; and student organizations. Old and new traditions such as Homecoming, New Student Days and Welcome Week, Patriots Day, and Mason Day are coordinated in part or wholly by the Program Board. Student Government is housed within and advised by Student Activities. Ours is a generalist office, there to meet, where possible, the needs of the students and the campus community. It is a fast-paced, fun environment.
How many student organizations come under your department?
There are approximately 140 that are recognized, and of course, that number fluctuates depending on how many have been recognized by the Office of Student Activities. There are a few student organizations on campus that function within other units, such as academic departments, that don’t come under the Student Activities umbrella.
What are some of the key activities in your office right now?
April is probably the most active month in terms of programming. Theme weeks such as Greek Week, Pride Week, and International Week, which student organizations coordinate and participate in, have just been completed. Student Government just completed its elections. Student organizations have just submitted their proposals for program funding for next year, in the process called Annual Budget Hearing. We also just completed our student organization recognitions at the end of last month, along with student group bench painting. With planning for these different things, as well as some of the actual activities happening at the same time, we are all over the place.
What is your biggest challenge?
I think that if you are going to be in the student affairs profession, you need to be someone who can be student-focused—someone who does not mind working long hours with students and others. There are no two days that are alike. You make your list of things to do, but know that you may not ever get to your list because there are other things that become a priority. On any given day, there can be something that comes up. You just have to be willing to be flexible, and you have to be prepared to adapt to any type of situation. You need to be able to let the students see that you can relate to what is going on with them, and you are going to reach out and work with them. That is what we are here for.
Are there any new activities that you would like to share that the community might not be aware of?
We are always trying to find ways to get students involved, whether it be through new student organizations or new ways of doing old things. An example this semester is Mason Day. Part of that tradition is having it out on the quad. Well, this year, students wanted to try it in a different location. The event was held in Lot L over by the Patriot Center. This brings a whole different perspective on how we look at everything, from having it be a fun event, getting those students who may be used to having it at the quad come over there, to making sure that it is still secure—the whole nine yards. That was really interesting to see how it worked out. You listen to what students want to do and then you try to go after it.
What are some of your goals?
Number one is always to try to maintain, but also always increase, student participation in different types of activities. That, of course, has to go along with what they are doing in the classroom. We recognize that students’ number one priority is their academics, but then we try to find ways to get students to get out, be involved, and know that part of the learning process is going to take place outside of the classroom. If we can get them in a student organization, and not just as a member of an organization, but also to take on a role as a committee member, a committee chair, a leader, or a student elected leader—that is part of the process. We want students to leave here feeling connected, feeling like they were a part of something. We hope they’ll be able to look back as alumni and see and feel a connection to something on this campus, or one of the other campuses. This is not just for our undergraduate students, but for our graduate students as well.
What is your favorite part of the job?
The fact that there are no two days alike. I love to do this job. And just knowing that you can make a difference. Quite honestly, when you see a student at graduation or hear his or her name called out, you know that person has come and gone through here successfully, and that somewhere along the line you were able to help out—that is a really good feeling.