By James Hartley
Students returning to campus this week will find changes in the offices that serve Eastfield’s campus life.
A week after the spring semester ended, the Office of Student Life disbanded and its popular director and her assistant lost their jobs.
The Office of Student Engagement and Retention, known as OSER, took over activities previously handled by Student Life.
The change promoted an outcry from current and former students, who formed a Facebook group that swelled to 300 members overnight. Dozens attended a June forum, hosted by the Student Government Association, to question administrators about the changes.
“We have a broader package of services,” Executive Dean Courtney Carter-Harbour said at the forum. “Nothing is going away from the traditional Office of Student Life model.”
Carter-Harbour rebuffed attempts to discuss events from the spring and said focus should be directed on the future.
“For both the new and returning students, there are no changes with the services. The same services are being provided by current and new OSER employees,” she said in an email to The Et Cetera. “It might be more helpful for new and returning students to learn more about OSER, focus on the future of campus life and the new employees of OSER rather than drudge up the drama from the end of the semester last year.”
OSER now covers all student engagement activities, both academic and extracurricular, Carter-Harbour said. Staff members spent the reorganizing and rebranding its services.
Texas Junior College SGA President Rameez Sohail, who had voiced his displeasure over the changes at the end of the spring semester, now supports OSER.
“OSER wants the best for us,” Sohail said, adding that the important thing is moving forward.
But some students remain skeptical about OSER’s ability to act in the same capacity as the former Student Life staff.
“The proof will be in the pudding,” Michael Heggie, a social psychology major, said. “I’ve already voiced my concerns with [President Jean] Conway and [Vice President Michael] Gutierrez … which is basically how are you going to replace the mentor atmosphere that Student Life had.”
“There is no proof that [OSER] can ante up when it comes to developing students to that high a level. I know they’re trying to get a lot of students into things, but at the same time there are those special people that are very motivated and very ready to do things,” Heggie added.
OSER has multiple offices on campus. For clubs, organizations, service learning and civic engagement, student leadership, campus ambassadors and programs and events, visit C-141. For OSER academic and transfer services, mentoring and career counseling, visit C-237B.