Bulldogs of Butler: Erica Garnett

CARL NELSON | STAFF REPORTER | canelso1@butler.edu

This is the latest installment of our Bulldog of Butler series, which is a short interview with someone to get to know more about them. We hope to highlight more and more people on this campus. Go to our website to read more stories about your fellow Dawgs.

Erica Garnett, now in her third year at Butler University, works as an assistant director at the Programs for Leadership and Service Education Office. She helps organize Butler’s Welcome Week orientation programs and the Student Orientation Guide teams. Garnett also co-advises the program board as well as the service and philanthropy board within Student Government Association. Garnett completed her undergraduate degree at Northwestern University where she studied education and social policy. She then attended graduate school at Missouri State University, where she got her masters degree in student affairs and higher education.

The Butler Collegian: For new students, or anyone who doesn’t know, what is the PuLSE Office and what does the PuLSE Office do?

Erica Garnett: The PuLSE Office, or Programs for Leadership and Service Education Office, focuses on different ways to engage students on campus. We focus on four main categories, one being campus activities or student activities, which includes all student organizations and SGA. We also focus on volunteer programs and leadership programs, like the Emerging Leaders program that Genevieve Sullivan and I run. And lastly, Welcome Week and orientation is our fourth main focus.

TBC: How many student-run organizations are there on campus?

EG: So, all student organizations fall under the umbrella of SGA, but they are directly and professionally supported by our [PuLSE] office and then their faculty or staff advisor. Butler has around 160 organizations on campus, but that number is constantly changing, due to new organizations forming and others going inactive.

TBC: How can students get involved in an existing organization, and how can they start a new one?

EG: “Block Party” in the fall and also in the spring is a great way to see what you may enjoy getting involved in and is an easy way to get in touch with members and the leaders of clubs or organizations you may want to join. But outside of those days, anyone is welcome to come into our office at anytime to use our Student Organization Recognition System that keeps a tally of all of the organizations on campus, their executive board and contact information, to make it easier for students to get in touch with those already involved in the organization. Jesse Neader, another assistant director in the office, oversees all of the student organizations from an operational standpoint, so we usually direct people first to him, but everyone in the office is willing and able to help anyone that comes in. To start an organization you actually need to go through SGA. You need to get the organization endorsed by SGA senate, the representation of all of the student body elected as student government representatives, then approved by the university before they become a recognized student organization. But before all of that you need to have at least four members, a faculty or staff advisor, fill out an application, create a constitution and then get in contact with SGA to start the approval process.

TBC: Why do you think it’s important for students to get involved in clubs and organizations?

EG: What we’ve found from research and statistics is that involvement really helps with retention. By retention we mean that students are staying and persisting at the university, year to year through graduation, so that’s the main reason to get involved. But even more importantly, getting involved helps you meet new people and it helps you focus in on both your interests and talents. One thing we focus a lot on in the office is the idea of co-curricular involvement, which is essentially taking things you learn in the classroom and applying them outside of the classroom or vise versa, so that when you graduate you have experiential and hands-on lessons that you can apply to your job and life in general.