Annual reports – campus chapters

Last week, I posted some thoughts about the Region 2 pro chapters as I read their annual reports.

This week, I looked at the campus chapter reports. There was plenty of good stuff. There also was more variation between the largest, most vibrant chapters and the smallest ones trying to get some traction.

To start, just by filling out the annual report, as instructed, chapter leaders accomplished something and showed commitment. Some chapters did not, and I’m still trying to reach a few of them to find out why.

Campus chapters have inherent challenges, particularly as students come and go in a relatively short time. I salute every student chapter that digs in and works (and remembers to have fun, too).

Here are a few observations as I read the reports that came in from eight Region 2 college chapters:

Elon University: “Covering the Vatican” is a nice program idea. For a dinner event on freelance writing, Elon connected with the High Point University chapter and the North Carolina Pro chapter. (This is not on the report or even related, but Elon made an impression at this year’s Region 2 conference because it was very well represented in the Mark of Excellence Awards.)

Georgetown University: How’s this for a successful turnout: Georgetown hosted a job fair cosponsored by five other local journalism chapters (including the D.C. Pro SPJ chapter) – 175 people and 14 recruiters were there. Organizers plan to make this an annual event Georgetown had a nice FOI panel program, on a public-records audit of the Baltimore Police Department, and did outstanding work in hosting this year’s Region 2 conference.

High Point University: Good choice in picking the popular First Amendment Free Food Festival for one of the programs. In the “service” category, the chapter judged entries in the SPJ high school essay contest.

James Madison University: There were several good programs in this report, with variety. Twice, the chapter turned to Skype to virtually bring in an interesting speaker. I love the idea of watching “The Newsroom” and dissecting the ethics of the storyline. Two interesting tidbits in the chapter constitution: Students must be in “good standing” (at least a 2.0 GPA) to be eligible for the chapter. And hazing is explicitly forbidden.

Salisbury University: The chapter made good strides in the “service” category and in fundraising. During a food drive, it collected the most canned goods of any organization on campus. Through a series of fundraising events at local restaurants, the chapter took in $300. It has connected well with the Maryland Pro chapter on a few activities.

University of Maryland: The list of activities kept going and going … and going. What a fantastic year, with numerous professional development and social events. A few other things that stood out: Meetings to discuss important national SPJ issues (a proposed name change, code of ethics update), a journalism-heavy trip to New York City, three blood drives, and an impressive mentor program with sixth- and seventh-graders who are learning journalism.

Virginia Commonwealth University: Another chapter with a good number and range of activities. A resume workshop is worthwhile; Ethics Hold ‘Em and media movie night are fun. One event was a little different: Moderating a gubernatorial mock debate that involved campus political groups.

Western Carolina: The chapter is in just its second semester and still gathering steam. It connected with the North Carolina Pro chapter through Skype, attended the Ted Scripps Leadership Institute and – showing resourcefulness – held two bake sales to help raise money to attend the national convention.

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