Survey intends to help groups recruit members

After many of its members graduated last spring, the Minnesota Triathlon Team needed a way to recruit new ones. Junior Chuck OâÄôNeil , recruitment chairman for the student group, said thatâÄôs why he decided to use the Interest Inventory results provided by the Student Unions & Activities office. But he might need a new recruitment strategy next year. The inventory, offered to all students who go through summer orientation, allows students to fill out an online survey through the myU portal indicating categories of activities they want more information about, assistant director of student activities Megan Sweet said. Student group officers can then access the e-mail addresses of those who indicated interest in the category their group falls under, but because of declining participation in the inventory it may not be offered in future years. Although the data has only been available to student groups for the past week, Sweet said the number of requests for the student e-mail lists has been higher in the past. âÄúWe have only had two formal requests,âÄù she said. âÄúWe usually get between 20 and 40 requests a year.âÄù The inventory was first done in 2002 as a partnership between Orientation & First Year Programs and the SUA office to connect students with clubs and organizations while Coffman Union was closed for construction, Lisa Gruszka , associate director for OFYP, said. Despite its original popularity, Gruszka said fewer groups have used the survey each year. With Coffman open and the addition of Welcome Week, Gruszka said she thinks groups are finding other ways to get their name out to students. âÄúWelcome Week may have provided more timely contact with students, which may be why the requests are down,âÄù she said. Sophomore Molly McDougall , vice president of Young Life College , said she was unaware her group could access this type of information for recruiting. âÄúItâÄôs probably because we are a new group that we didnâÄôt hear about it,âÄù she said. âÄúWe were just so focused on getting ourselves established.âÄù The inventory used to be mandatory for all students who attended orientation, but to make data tabulation faster the survey was moved online to the myU portal, making the survey optional, Gruszka said. This year, 1,144 students took part in the inventory. Gruszka said categories with the most interest included study abroad opportunities, Greek life, spiritual and religious activities and recreational sports. Because of declining participation by both new students and student groups, Gruszka said the interest inventory may be replaced by new strategies to help get the word out about organizations. âÄúWe have been under review for two years and said we would try it one more year to see what kind of participation we got,âÄù she said. OâÄôNeil said itâÄôs disappointing that people donâÄôt see using the inventory as worthwhile. After meeting with the SUA office, OâÄôNeil said the group had access to 746 e-mail addresses of students who had expressed interest in fitness, health and wellness, running, bicycling and walking within hours of the appointment. Sweet said groups who use the e-mail list must include in their e-mail how they received the addresses and offer students a way to opt out of future messages from the group. Upon sending out an e-mail Monday, OâÄôNeil said the group received 30 responses from students interested in the club, which was preferable to sitting at activities fairs. âÄúYou really donâÄôt want to come off as the creepy club with the table saying âÄòCome join us,âÄô âÄù he said. âÄúItâÄôs better to talk with people who are interested in the club.âÄù