Whose Week Is It Anyways?: A Case Study of Collaboration Between Student Affairs and Student Volunteers
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Student Affairs organizations are becoming the heartbeat of campus as the complex issues facing universities encourage Student Affairs professionals to seek out strategies to ensure they meet their purpose within their institution. In order to support the mission of the institution and serve the educational and personal needs of students, Student Affairs staff must collaborate with student volunteers to facilitate the delivery of services and programs. This study explored the nature of the relationship and the experiences of collaboration between Student Affairs staff and student volunteers in the context of Orientation. Through interviews with staff and student volunteers, the findings from this research suggest that while Federation Orientation Committee (FOC) members (student volunteers) and their Orientation Advisors (staff) experienced a close and collaborative relationship, there were several organizational factors such as structure and leadership that impacted their experience of collaboration, ultimately influencing student volunteer-management relationships. The findings also reveal the dynamics of collaboration, including factors that influence how well the staff and student volunteers work together and how they experience meaning through their interactions. This study suggests that organizational structure plays a large role between Student Affairs staff and student volunteers. Centralized and decentralized structures existed between different groups, and their ability to collaborate was dependent on how well the staff and student volunteers communicated and trusted each other. Although organizational structures was not expected to play such a role in this study initially, further research on how these structures impact collaboration, especially on the student experience outside of the classroom, would be of value to university administrators, Student Affairs professionals, and future student volunteers.