DSA Student Life staff aim to reframe the cougar experience - University of Houston
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DSA News
March 15, 2023

The Division of Student Affairs Student Life established a taskforce dedicated to enhancing the student experience and student success through events, programs, and services. The end goal is to lift and scale awareness of the engagement opportunities of the great work Student Life provides. Some of the deliverables include: enhancing marketing efforts, reviewing internal work processes for programming and marketing, creating new social media influencer engagement, conducting qualitative and quantitative assessment and a bi-monthly e-communication for students who attend Student Life events.

Image of Student Life Influencer, Stephanie De La Cruz

Image of Student Life Influencer, Stephanie De La Cruz

Student photographers and social media influencers were able to bring more emphasis on small and large-scale events and fill social media feeds with high quality and aesthetically pleasing images, which has been known to perform better over text-heavy graphics. The influencers also work to promote upcoming events and programs, provide live coverage, and do event recaps.

Since the upgraded marketing tactics were implemented, the Get Involved Instagram and TikTok accounts saw a follower increase over the 2022 fall semester of 40% and 43% respectively, and average view increases of 84% and 35% respectively.

Student Life has also launched a new bi-monthly newsletter to highlight upcoming “can’t miss” events, titled Cougar Connections, distributed to all students who have attended Student Life-sponsored events over the semester. The open rate for Cougar Connections has ranged between from 55% to 70% between issues.

Student Life conducted an assessment to collect program and event feedback, marketing effectiveness, and the impact Student Life events have on students. For example, 96% of attendees felt more connected to campus and 85% of students met someone new as a result of attending or participating in a Student Life program. More notably, 91% of students who attended an educational or cultural/identity-based event/program said they gained a better understanding of cross-cultural knowledge and cultural competence. Also, 93% said they deepened their understanding of others, 93% said they learned something new, and 68% said they gained a new skill.

When asked what they liked most about the event(s) they attended, some shared the following quotes:

  • "I liked attending Ignite because it helped me learn more about qualities of a leader... I learned ways I can become a leader in my community & how I can be more involved at UH"
  • "I liked the variety of entertainment programs there were. This being my 1st semester on campus, I found lots of events to attend!"
  • "They helped me get more in touch with my own culture and I met a lot of amazing people along the way"
  • "I learned about other cultures; I'm trying to have more cultural competency"
  • "Got to learn different views and really got an understanding of how others feel"

Keith T. Kowalka, assistant vice president for student affairs – student life, said “The Student Life Task Force to support Student Engagement has provided our team with data on what success we are creating for students (learning, building community, creating connections), where we can make improvements in our programs and services, and what ideas for future events and programs our students would like to see in the future.”

This task force will continue on an on-going basis: conducting assessments at the end of each semester; providing marketing/programming training, and to collect assessment data from students who do not currently participate in Student Life events. Some next steps include further examining the assessment data to address student suggestions related to event times, marketing visibility, and event ideas.

More about Student Life
Student Life portfolio, within the Division of Student Affairs, is focused to help students get involved on campus to better develop leadership skills, character, and discipline. We create global citizens who are ready to contribute to the world. Student Life also oversees the Get Involved brand and platform. Student Life consists of:

Eight (8) departments:

  • AD Bruce Religion Center,
  • Center for Diversity and Inclusion,
  • Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life,
  • Center for Student Media,
  • Center for Student Involvement,
  • DSA IT Services,
  • LGBTQ Resource Center,
  • Student Centers

7 University Sponsored Organizations:

  • Activities Funding Board,
  • Council of Cultural Activities,
  • Frontier Fiesta Association,
  • Homecoming Board,
  • Metropolitan Volunteer Program,
  • Student Government Association,
  • Student Program Board

3 Affiliated Organizations:

  • CoogRadio,
  • CoogTV,
  • The Cougar