Freshman Caucus making impact on campus

NATALIE SMITH
NMSMITH1@BUTLER.EDU
STAFF REPORTER

Hundreds of little white flags covered the lawn in front of Starbucks last week.
The Freshman Caucus used the white flags as a visual representation of its latest freshman service fundraiser for Gleaners Food Bank. Students could purchase a flag for $1 and that dollar would buy four meals for people in need of food assistance in Indianapolis.
Freshman Caucus is a group dedicated to unifying the freshman class through class spirit, service and involvement, according to Butler University’s website.
Freshman Caucus Vice President Connie Frank said caucus purchased the flags from its own account to ensure all money raised would go directly to Gleaners.
“It’s an important part of the experience at Butler to be aware of your surrounding community,” Frank said. “We’re all in a lucky position to be going to a school like Butler. Giving back to the community is the Butler way.”
Frank said the fundraiser’s end date has been postponed due to the winter weather advisory from last week. The caucus’ goal, however, is to sell its 1,000 flags and fund 4,000 meals for Gleaners. Sales figures at this point are unclear.
The caucus promoted this fundraiser and other events this year with social media. They have access to the class of 2017’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and also send out a listserv to keep freshmen updated about events.
“We’ve really embraced social media this year,” Frank said. “We want to get the word out there that we exist and bring our class together.”
Through social media, the caucus advertised its other events this year. The caucus sold class of 2017 T-shirts and also helped to co-host a Late Night at the HRC.
Freshman Emily Chamberlain attended the Late Night and said she enjoyed seeing her peers be so involved.
“It was a fun to see members of the class of 2017 working together,” Chamberlain said. “I thought it was good that a lot of people came to support them and their event.”
Even with the success of these events, this group is currently focused on working out new ideas for freshman involvement during the spring semester.
“We’re planning a bunch of things in different areas,” Frank said. “We want to have fun events in all areas so people with different interests can get involved and know what we’re doing.”
Sally Click, dean of student services, said unifying freshman can be harder during the second semester.
“Second semester is when students go through Greek recruitment and are already in their own groups,” Click said.
In 2008, the student body president at the time decided he wanted the perspectives and opinions of Butler freshmen, so he introduced the idea for a freshman caucus as a solution.
The previous form of freshman government was comparable to a normal class officer-style leadership team. The freshmen would vote for whom they wanted into office within the first couple weeks of school. Click said this way of running the freshman class was not as successful as it could be.
“It was flawed because we were having them vote on people that they didn’t even know yet,” Click said.
The current caucus has been in place since 2009 and is advertised at the beginning of the year for all freshmen. Once the freshmen are given a chance to get to know each other, leadership positions are voted on by the members.
The Freshman Caucus was put in place for students to practice in student government at a university and be more prepared to be a class officer the following year.
“It’s a mini SGA directed at freshmen to help us learn the ropes,” Frank said.
Click said a student doesn’t have to be a member of the caucus to be a sophomore class officer. There is only one sophomore class officer who was on the Freshman Caucus last year.
Meetings are open to all freshmen and are on Mondays at 5 p.m. in Atherton Union 201.

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