RSO presidents share experiences starting out
December 5, 2016
There are currently 930 RSOs at the University, and that number has the potential to grow each year.
Shannon Merkys, senior in AHS, is one of two student supervisors and a UofI Connections Specialist at the Office of Registered Organizations. One of the main parts of her job is overseeing the process of registering student organizations.
According to Merkys, the requirements for creating an RSO are simple.
“All you need is five members, and you need to designate those five members to fit the specific positions: one president, one treasurer, and then separate agents one, two, and three,” Merkys said. “That is literally all you need to start an RSO. And then you kind of just go through the registration steps.”
Students can register their organizations from April 1 to Sept. 30 every year, and there is also a brief period of about two weeks after winter break for spring registration.
Despite the minimal requirements needed to apply for an RSO, several RSO leaders agree that the process of registering an RSO is unnecessarily complicated, and it involves a lot of online “paperwork.”
If an organization is applying for re-registration, the leaders of the club must first contact the RSO Office to update any contact information for new officers. The new president and treasurer of the organization then must take several quizzes through Compass 2g and fill out applications. Finally, the remaining agents listed on the application must accept their positions in the organization. The entire process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months.
Molly McGhee, president of the Illini Equestrians and senior in ACES, wrote in an email that although the process has been established for a long time, it could be improved.
“The UofI Connections website is confusing to navigate, and we had quite a few communication problems with the RSO Office during the time of re-registration,” McGhee wrote. “I know a few people from other RSOs that have had a lot of problems with the UofI Connections website as well.”
Analytics in Business is an RSO that was created this year. Tarun Mittal, the vice president and a senior in Business, agreed that the process was long and dull.
“It is too tedious,” Mittal wrote in an email. “The steps must be reduced and the quiz should not be made mandatory.”
Students who do choose to go through the long process of registering an organization will most likely be rewarded.
Merkys also said the Office rarely turns down an application, and students can create RSOs about virtually anything that interests them.
“The only reason their application would get denied would be if they had a duplicate submission or if there’s already an RSO with that exact same name or if the description is similar, that’s what we look out for,” Merkys said. “You need to try to set yourself apart from the other organizations … you just kind of want to make yourself stand out.”
For students that want to start an organization, McGhee explained it’s worth all of the hard work.
“My best advice for someone who is interested in leading an RSO is to approach the leadership position with a positive attitude and not to get upset if things don’t go perfectly every time,” McGhee wrote.
To McGhee, creating an RSO has given her leadership skills that she would not have otherwise.
“I’ve approached my experience as president as a way to learn about my own leadership and communications skills, and it’s been rewarding to be able to help organize and promote an organization that I’m passionate about.”