Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once said that “the greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own.” This sentiment sits at the core of a Rollins education, which is designed to develop the whole person, not just the mind—or as Director of the Student Involvement and Leadership Brent Turner eloquently describes it, “Rollins is all about producing great people, not just great GPAs.”
What better way to enrich students’ learning experiences at Rollins than to encourage student involvement in an endless number of possibilities beyond the classroom? The Office of Student Involvement and Leadership (OSIL) exists primarily to engage each and every student in an organization, activity, event or program intended to encourage leadership, global citizenship and just plain fun.
First-year students begin to glimpse the opportunities for contribution and participation on campus during fall orientation when OSIL holds its annual Involvement Fair. A showcase of all Rollins student organizations from athletic teams to sororities, this event offers a chance for freshmen students to find out what’s happening at Rollins, meet upperclassmen and interact with student leaders who attempt to coax them into participation.
"Incoming students love the Involvement Fair,” said Dean of Student Affairs Karen Hater. “When you walk into the event, there is activity everywhere. It’s such a colorful, carnival-like event.” Around 157 student clubs and organizations are represented spanning academics, athletics, cultural diversity, media, religion and community service.
While an emphasis on student learning outcomes is at the heart of OSIL’s work, its champions never forget that college is also supposed to be about having fun, making connections and creating memorable moments with peers. To that end, OSIL hosts a myriad of events throughout the year aimed almost entirely at creating a good time.
These student-coordinated events are typically facilitated by All Campus Events (ACE), which hosts the most-attended happenings on campus, including live comedy shows and concerts, Rollins After Dark, Rally Rollins and the Spring Concert. Throughout the academic year, students are not only encouraged to attend on-campus events, but also to join the planning teams that bring these events to life.
“Students involved in events learn practical skills like negotiating, budgeting and contracting,” said Turner. “A student once told me it was like running a business. That’s exactly the sort of experience we want them to glean from getting involved on campus. Our events are intentional and meaningful experiences designed for students to develop their leadership skills and to build on the learning taking place in the classroom.”
Besides providing opportunities to develop leadership skills, Rollins events capture the collegiate experience and give students an opportunity to de-stress and have fun. Creatively executed with an eye for entertainment value, these events remind students that college is also about creating life-long memories.
Snowed In, OSIL's signature welcome-back event of the spring semester, turns the campus center into a wonderland of falling snow, snowmen, s'mores and hot cocoa. Lip Sync brings the campus community together for an evening of friendly competition as fraternities, sororities and student organizations battle it out for the Lip Sync trophy. And Campus MovieFest, a part of the world's largest student film festival, gives students the chance to become independent filmmakers, creating mini-movies that premiere on campus and perhaps compete at the International Grand Finale held annually in various locations across the nation.
Besides campus events, OSIL has a strong tie to Rollins’ fraternities and sororities. These organizations emphasize building community and giving of self, as exemplified through countless volunteer hours spent in the community and executing fundraising events for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity. Furthermore, fraternities and sororities promote positive connections for students and help them find a family away from home.
OSIL also oversees the College’s three main media outlets: RTV, WPRK 91.5 FM and The Sandspur. RTV, a closed-circuit television station for Rollins College established in 1997, is entirely student-run and produces original shows—including news, sports, talk shows and dramas—as well as commercials and advertisements for events, departments, clubs and organizations.
Graduate Assistant Claudine Tomlinson-Burney has found her involvement with RTV very rewarding. “Rollins has allowed me to be a better professional,” said Tomlinson-Burney. “I’ve been given the awesome opportunity to share my experiences in the media industry with the students and give them more insight on how ‘real life’ media operates.”
Also student-run, WPRK radio showcases a huge variety of musical genres ranging from rock, rap and oldies to classical, opera and Broadway musicals, giving students the opportunity to play an eclectic mix of music.
When Assistant Station Manager Casey Korge (Class of 2013) arrived on campus in 2009, she discovered WPRK while on a campus tour. She accepted the role of promotions director that September, she learned to cultivate relationships with Orlando music venues such as House of Blues. Korge managed to expand the station’s outreach from one venue relationship to six in just a few months.
“In my role as promotions director, I definitely learned a lot about the entertainment business,” said Korge. “I learned how to form strong relationships with venues and how to work with all types of people.” Korge also forged a new relationship with the Florida Film Festival that will continue to flourish in the future.
“When you join an on-campus organization, you meet so many people,” said Korge. “I made a lot of friends and found the station was a good place to hang out when I just wanted to be with people who have the same interests as me.”
WPRK Station Manager Taylor Clark (Class of 2012) started out as the station’s public service announcement director in 2009. An environmental studies major, she too has learned tremendously from the experience including the ins and outs of running a nonprofit organization and how to use the media to encourage the community to be more environmentally conscious. “I’m learning about leadership, communication and teamwork,” said Clark. “The station has helped me to develop a business mindset. Besides production, I’m learning how to handle major issues and run meetings.”
Clark’s involvement in WPRK has had a huge impact on her college experience. “When I first came to Rollins, I didn’t find my niche right away. It was kind of awkward, and I didn’t feel like I fit in,” she said. “But when I started connecting with WPRK, I found people like me. It’s great to have somewhere you feel accepted. It’s made my experience at Rollins so much richer. Now I appreciate Rollins and everything it has to offer. Now I have my own outlet to express who I am.”
RTV’s Tomlinson-Burney echoes this sentiment. “Getting involved on campus allows students to appreciate their school because students get a unique opportunity to belong to something that’s dear to them,” she said. “It can be a positive outlet for students to focus on something fun, interesting and exciting. It’s not all about exams and books; there are other opportunities that can enable students to explore their talents and broaden their education.”
The programs, services and advocacy efforts of OSIL are designed to build community between and among students, faculty and staff. Led by the College’s mission to educate students for responsible leadership and global citizenship, OSIL engages students in hands-on experiences while at the same time fostering a sense of connection, campus pride and life-long learning.
Director of Student Involvement and Leadership