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Student Affairs

Building Leaders from Within

Student leaders pose in front of the sunset

Students looking for a way to give back to their community can start their search at Cal Poly’s Leadership and Service department, which offers a multitude of ways to experience meaningful and purposeful opportunities. The programs within Leadership and Service include the Center for Leadership, Center for Service in Action, Fraternity and Sorority Life, and Clubs and Organizations. They all support the ongoing personal and professional development of students, both on campus and in the surrounding community, and allow students to learn and practice the fundamental principles of civic engagement; responsible leadership; and the importance of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in a global society.

In the 2021-22 academic year, staff and peer leaders in the Center for Leadership hosted over 80 workshops for clubs and departments. The center is looking to expand its capacity to offer programming to more students but current funding does not meet the demand.

“Through the Emerging Leader Series and time spent with fellow peer leaders, I have been able to define and explore my personal leadership philosophy, strengthen my emotional intelligence and become a more flexible and dynamic individual,” said Renee B., Center for Leadership peer leader.

Smiling students who are participating on Alternative Breaks

In the 2021-22 academic year, approximately 900 students devoted approximately 7,000 service hours performing some form of community service through the Center for Service in Action. Interest in community service is growing, especially in the Alternative Breaks program in which students participate in global and domestic volunteer service project trips during winter, spring and summer breaks. The Center for Service in Action team is looking to increase access for students to participate in cultural immersion trips. However, the price tags for travel are cost-prohibitive for many since the Center for Service in Action does not cover all costs comprehensively.

“I loved the Alternative Breaks program. Working with community members in Arabi, Louisiana, helped me better understand the impact hurricanes and tornadoes have on a community. I will never think about natural disasters the same way again.” -- Student Volunteer for Alternative Breaks New Orleans

The Fraternity and Sorority Life office fosters the learning and development of students who affiliate with the social fraternities and sororities through a variety of programs and experiences. Interest from students continues to grow in these organizations, with membership increasing to approximately 18% of the student body and new chapters joining the community regularly. Collectively, fraternity and sorority members raise between $300,000 to $500,000 annually for a variety of local and national causes and volunteer 60,000 hours of their time in community service.

The Fraternity and Sorority Life office is seeking to grow its capacity to send officers to an annual leadership conference. Each year the office sends 15 of the 33 student council officers to a statewide leadership development conference, where they learn from their peers and professionals from other campuses. Many student-driven initiatives and community enhancements have come from this experience. The goal is to cover the registration or travel expenses for all 33 student council officers to attend this annual leadership conference.

Clubs and Organizations provides opportunities for students to find their college community, network with academic and professional organizations, and develop peer-to-peer leadership skills. Currently, more than 12,700 students are members of at least one of Cal Poly’s 400-plus clubs, making it one of the highest-impact programs on campus. In 2022-23, student officers planned 12,219 events and funded more than $1.7 million worth of club-related expenses.

Smiling club sports team

Interest in Club Sports is also growing. Over the past several years, Clubs and Organizations have experienced record participation levels, with thousands of student-athletes registering for club sports teams for the first time. By joining these teams, students receive hands-on leadership training and enhance their social growth, in addition to having a healthy outlet. On average, roughly 60% of Cal Poly’s 29 club sports teams qualify for nationals every year, and in 2022-23, two teams secured a national championship title. Cycling won its national title for the second year in a row, and Women’s Soccer won its first national championship in the team’s history. To compete, Club Sports teams are required to secure donations and sponsorships to cover 95% of participants’ annual expenses.

The Leadership and Service office has a vision of nurturing Cal Poly leaders who will be prepared to effectively address the challenges of the future. We also believe that students should be able to engage in meaningful leadership development opportunities that build their resumes and professional skills, regardless of their financial status.

Your generous contribution will enable us to:

  • Expand Peer Leadership: Each contribution of $75 to the Center for Leadership covers the preparation, presentation and supplies for an average workshop led by our student leaders.
  • Increase Access for Cultural Immersion Trips: Each contribution of $1,000 covers the average airfare for a student to join an Alternative Breaks trip.
  • Grow Leadership Conference Attendance for Fraternity and Sorority Officers: Each contribution of $500 covers the registration or travel expenses for an additional student council officer to attend the annual leadership conference.
  • Support Student-Athletes: Each contribution of $150 covers a student-athlete’s hotel, gas and food expenses for a weekend competing on the road.

By supporting our students, you are helping to cultivate a new generation of leaders who are compassionate, visionary and committed to making positive changes in their communities.