With the start of the 2023/2024 school year comes the start of a new era for Redlands, beginning with the reconstruction of the student government, formerly known as the Associated Students of the University of Redlands (ASUR). Social Affairs, the ASUR-affiliated organization in charge of planning campus events, was dragged down with the fall of ASUR. The consequences of this have been felt in the Fall semester of 2023 with a decrease in events and the lack of an official student-led organization planning these events. That’s where DAWGS’ story begins.
The Old System
ASUR Social Affairs was the organization in charge of hosting campus-wide events. Though not directly linked to the student government, it was one of the two halves of ASUR. This meant that planning came down to a limited group of people.
“One Cabinet position [in ASUR] was the director of Social Affairs, and that person helped work with a few of the administrators in this office along with some student staff to host various events on campus,” former ASUR President Derrick Ball ’24 shared.
There were weekly meetings and opportunities for students to share their ideas, but it usually came down to the Cabinet member and their teams to pick and plan the events.
“The students in Social Affairs did just about everything,” Ball said. “Most ASUR meetings were open to the public with a chance for any student to come in and share their thoughts and ideas but almost no one knew about it.”
From weekly Arts and Crafts nights to Casino Night, ASUR Social Affairs was effective in its planning, but lacked the involvement of students outside of the organization, Ball informed.
Many of the problems that existed in ASUR, such as the lack of involvement, weren’t limited to the government and the result was the termination of both halves of the organization. With its fall though, the question became: What will happen this semester?
Social Affairs this Past Semester
Students may have noticed that the volume of events this semester is much smaller than previous semesters. Since the discontinuation of ASUR, event planning has fallen solely on staff members in Student Involvement and Success (SIS). While the Student Voice Task Force has been working to rebuild a student government from the remains of ASUR and all its components, including Social Affairs, events have still been planned.
Assistant Director of Student Involvement Jillian Strong said, “In terms of putting activities on for the campus it is literally just me. We are going from a big team of Social Affairs to just me.”
Maintaining the same volume of events that were hosted under ASUR Social Affairs would be nearly impossible to achieve. Despite the undesirable circumstances, however, Strong has continued to make programming events a priority.
“Our strategy for this semester was to put on programs that are larger scale [for the whole] school. Getting more than 100 students to come was the goal,” Strong said.
One of the recent events planned by SIS was the screening of the film A Little White Lie.
Ball also informed that, while there might be no student government this semester, the student fee that is meant for event planning is still being used as it was intended.
“That budget would typically go to social affairs is not, but it is still expected that it goes to student programming and their best avenue to do student programming is to get more students involved,” Ball shared.
Who Plans Events?
SIS isn’t the only department that plans events on campus, and that hasn’t changed since the discontinuation of Social Affairs. This year however, the presence of other groups planning events for students has become more prominent as their events have supported the work done by SIS.
One such group is Resident Assistants (RAs).
Ball, who is also an RA shared that, “RAs are expected to host various numbers of programs throughout the semester.”
These events planned by RAs are open to anyone on campus, but are more geared towards residents of the hall the event is hosted in. A major difference between programs hosted by RAs and those hosted by Social Affairs and SIS is the intent behind the events, Ball said.
“As RAs we’re more focused on professional development and acclimating [students] into [the] college campus,” Ball added.
He continued by saying the focus of SIS and Social Affairs is not educational directives, but more to “come hang out and chill.”
Aside from RAs, clubs and organizations also host events. While their amount of programming hasn’t necessarily changed with the removal of Social Affairs, this semester their planning has bolstered SIS, helping make up for the lack of events planned overall.
Undeniably, the events planned by RAs, clubs and organizations on campus have filled many of the gaps left in the absence of Social Affairs. While Redlands has had a lot of smaller events, they’ve lacked more centralized ones that include the whole school.
“It’s very different. It’s always been on students to take the initiative, it’s just the avenue in which it was done last year is no longer there,” Ball noted.
While this works for a transitional period, that is all it works for: a transition. The separation of event planning, with the only source being individuals rather than a team, is not sustainable, Ball shared.
Enter DAWGS, the new Social Affairs.
What is DAWGS?
DAWGS stands for Doing Activities With Great Spirit, and though it was just created this semester, it’s not a new club.
“It’s actually a club that was brought back. It used to exist before,” Noelle Chavez ’24, a co-founder of the updated DAWGS said.
The club, like ASUR, is getting its own revival, and at a more crucial time than ever.
The renewal of DAWGS started as a student section called DAWG Pound at football games in early September of this year. It was an idea originally pitched by members of the Pom Squad, the dance cheer club on campus.
When it was still at its earliest stages, Shelli Stockton, the director of Strategic Partnerships and Community Engagement, helped start DAWGS as the administrator, Chavez said. While not originally planning to be one of the leaders of such an organization, Chavez’s ideas and willingness to give suggestions got her an invitation from Stockton to the lunch that served as the beginning of DAWGS.
“That’s when I got brought into it. We talked about what our next steps were,” Chavez said. “I wasn’t intending to be at the forefront of it. It fell together [because] we all knew each other.”
The club was formed to encourage student involvement in athletic events, finding ways to appeal to the student body and encourage campus connectivity. They tried to appear at the home games for every sport on campus, developing their standing as a force for student event planning on campus, Chavez shared.
Despite facing hurdles like having no budget because they weren’t registered as an official club, DAWGS persisted. Their resourcefulness is what propelled them forward. For instance, the shirts they gave away at games were not bought or provided by the school, Chavez informed. They were donated by an alumni who had worked with Pom Squad. Chavez also shared that they were very methodical in planning the events they held each game, what prizes they awarded, and how many shirts they gave away. Their hard work helped them slowly develop into a popular force for event planning.
About two weeks ago, Chavez and her co-lead Enrique Alverde decided to take things to the next step.
“We talked about it and said it would be really cool to take this and turn it into an all-campus thing,” Chavez explained.
Lucky for them, they weren’t the only ones with this idea.
“Earlier this week we were approached by Student Affairs to become the new Social Affairs,” Chavez said.
And so, the next era begins.
The New Social Affairs
What can students expect going into the next semester?
“Moving forward, student government is not going away but ASUR is,” Strong said. “Social Affairs is being removed from student government, not to say that they won’t work together.”
The disconnect that existed when Social Affairs fell under the umbrella of ASUR will be combated by the delineation of the new Social Affairs as a separate organization from the elected student officials. It is meant to encourage more student involvement as a part of the organization itself, not just as audience members, as was the case with ASUR.
After all, as Ball said when interviewed, “Who knows students better than students?”
What the Future Holds for DAWGS
DAWGS is surfacing as the new Social Affairs, but they’re also merging with the Campus Activity Board (CAB), Strong shared.
What does this mean for DAWGS?
DAWGS is going to be a part of SIS moving forward. While this does imply less freedom and more administrative control, it also opens more opportunities for partnerships and planning, Chavez shared. Going forward, DAWGS is going to be officialized as Social Affairs which creates certain expectations, but also certain advantages, especially when it comes to collaborative work with employees of the University.
“They’re going to plan the logistics of what you all want to do. Myself as an advisor and professional staff will assist in terms of planning and contracts and those kinds of things. That’s the idea moving forward,” Strong shared.
With the merger comes the need for a solid system and structure.
“It’s in the hands of Enrique and I, with the current CAB members, to decide how this should be structured. A big goal is to continue working with clubs and departments. Social Affairs kind of did that in the past and I don’t want to take that away,” Chavez said.
In addition, the merger of CAB and DAWGS into SIS means that DAWGS has a much larger budget now. The portion of the student fees, extra charges that are a part of tuition at Redlands, will now be at the disposal of DAWGS.
“It was always the intended goal to bring about spirit for Redlands on campus in whatever way we could,” Chavez said.
Little did they know it would be in the form of the new Social Affairs.
“DAWGS is Social Affairs,” Chavez declared. She hopes the name DAWGS will become synonymous with Social Affairs, especially to many freshmen who don’t know what Social Affairs is. Chavez has been asked the question by freshmen: “Who is Social Affairs? Oh, that’s DAWGS,” Chavez has responded.
They plan to bring traditions that are both old and new by working with students and hearing their ideas. Above all, they want DAWGS to be different from ASUR, making it student-driven and inclusive to all who want to join.
With the new design of Social Affairs as a separate organization rather than a part of the elected government, it’s much easier to get involved.
Students can follow them on Instagram @we_r_dawgs to stay up-to-date on the latest events, activities and announcements. Many of their past posts advertise home games and events DAWGS planned to host. One of their most recent posts asked, “Who is DAWGS?” That’s when they shared the news that they were going to be the new Social Affairs and invited students to join via an interest form linked here.
Chavez said that no formal system has been created for inducting new members as of now, so the interest form is how students can join DAWGS.
“Anyone, as long as they’re willing to commit time to it, can join DAWGS,” Chavez stated.
For those who have questions, comments, or suggestions they can contact DAWGS via email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Any student who has an idea could come to us with it and have that power to plan it with our help. There are funds specific for DAWGS now. There’s also funds in SIS that are reserved to help students do events like that, or to help clubs and organizations to hold larger-scale events like that. We want people to have their voices heard,” Chavez said.
Recent and Upcoming Events
Since they became the new Social Affairs, DAWGS has been busy.
“As our kickstart to taking over [the role of social affairs], we’re going to be in the Christmas parade, and any student can come and be on the float or walk on the parade,” Chavez shared.
Prior to the parade, DAWGS hosted float decoration events on Nov. 27 and Nov. 30.
In between the float decorating and the parade, they hosted another event: Late Night Breakfast. On Dec. 1 at 9 p.m. students were able go to The Table at Irvine Commons and get into the event with a meal swipe. Strong shared that the theme this semester was Willy Wonka.
All the events and event details can be found on their Instagram, as well as events coming up during the Spring semester.
“Be excited for the Spring,” Strong said. “I know I am.”