Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

ODK hopes to regain recognition through OSL

Linh Tran

Augustana’s local chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), a nationally recognized leadership honor society, will merge with the Office of Student Life (OSL) in the 2024-25 school year due to a loss of administrative staff support. 

As a result, new members were not accepted into ODK this year. Dan Lee, ODK’s faculty advisor, hopes the merger will increase student membership and provide student leadership opportunities. According to Lee, ODK merging with the OSL will accelerate the member selection process and promote ODK to the student body, responsibilities previously held by ODK’s former administrative staff support.

“ODK is a good fit for OSL because ODK is student-run, and that’s typical of the other student groups in OSL,” Lee said. “It’s a natural fit.”

According to Augustana’s website, ODK is a highly selective society open to sophomores, juniors and seniors, demonstrating “exceptional leadership in other campus or community activities.” To be considered for membership, students’ grade point average (GPA) must be no less than a 3.5. 

Senior member Luca Barba, however, said the group has struggled to arrange any service projects since he joined in the spring of 2022. For Barba, ODK feels like a resume builder.

“It used to be a volunteer organization in practice, and now it’s a volunteer organization in name,” Barba said. “It really hasn’t changed my experience as a student.”

Junior member Audrey Zettler said members want to participate in service projects but cannot because of miscommunication between members, student leadership and faculty. 

“Every single time [members] try to get involved, we’re told that we don’t have help or support,” Zettler said. “[Members] never get their questions resolved.”

On Monday, April 15, ODK members received a message from President Leslie Bandera relaying that ODK was merging with OSL. The message promised members that ODK would retain their individual identity but would have support and funding from the OSL. According to Barba, current members were not given an opportunity to provide input on the decision and need clarification on the merger.

Greg Domski, associate dean of the college, said ODK’s merger with OSL is the best solution to increase membership and redefine ODK’s leadership presence on campus. The OSL possesses the staff support that ODK needs while allowing ODK to continue being a student-run organization. Domski said the OSL will provide ODK with the leadership resources they need to increase engagement and enrollment. 

“[ODK members will] have to put in some sweat equity to keep it going, but that sweat equity is a chance for them to enhance their leadership skills and gain leadership experience,” Domski said.

In the past, the administration sorted through every Augustana student’s GPA, inviting those with a GPA of 3.5 or higher to apply for ODK membership. After students applied, current ODK members would vote on whether or not a student could be in the group. Admitted students would have a new member period once a year in the spring. 

Lee said OSL will help to streamline this process. Instead of the administration hand-picking students, students will attend informational meetings about ODK membership and apply themselves. Applications would then require students to submit a transcript. Through the help of OSL, ODK hopes to have two new member periods each year, one in the fall and the other in the spring. 

“I don’t want to see ODK become a faculty-run organization,” Lee said. “I want it to continue to be a student-run organization, and because of that, the fit with OSL is ideal.”

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