Director of student engagement discusses challenges and transitions within the department 

Student Life’s director of student engagement Stephen Cucchiara spoke with The Scribe about how the Department of Student Life is facing ongoing supply and demand challenges due to high event engagement. 

Cucchiara said the department is facing “transitional challenges” related to high demand and insufficient resources, such as food, to sustain the demand, causing the department to find solutions through creative measures. 

One of the obstacles the department is having to overcome is the sudden growth in student engagement in this semester’s fall events, which Cucchiara noted has been a struggle to keep up with. He said that students have gotten more involved in Clyde’s Kickoff, an annual week of events that welcomes students back from the summer. 

“The beginning of the year was the most exciting for us than it’s ever been before. The excitement was all of the new students coming back and Clyde’s Kickoff activities. I think all of that is always something that excites our staff, and that’s really important for us.” Cucchiara said. 

Cucchiara noted the challenge comes from being able to supply a sufficient amount of resources for these events. He shared that the attendance statistics from orientation week, Clyde’s Kickoff, sorority and fraternity recruitment and club fairs reflect a 28-38% increase in attendance.  

Funding for these events are affected by rising costs due to inflation, which Cucchiara said causes the department to look for funding outside of the budget that primarily comes from the allocated University Center student per-credit hour fees. 

To address these financial challenges, Cucchiara said Student Life is actively seeking to collaborate with other organizations. One of the organizations Cucchiara has been looking to for help is UCCS’ student government.  

During a recent SGA meeting, Cucchiara addressed these challenges and asked for more collaboration and solutions for these “transitional challenges” to support the department. He emphasized that supporting Student Life connects the student body and fosters a sense of belonging on campus. 

“It shouldn’t all be on Student Life anymore; we all should find a way to contribute to this. That was my whole point,” Cucchiara said. 

Cucchiara noted one success Student Life has had with SGA involvement was a collaboration with the Senator of Commuter Affairs that helped keep up with supply and demand for the frequent commuter lunches, which have seen a significant increase in attendance.  

Student Life is also looking for community partnerships in Colorado Springs and to collaborate on events with local businesses looking to gain UCCS student exposure, which they hope translates to support for funding and the organization of campus events. 

Other issues Student Life is facing are the department’s current staffing problems. Cucchiara said the current challenges come from a shortage of available job positions and a growing number of employment inquiries, which can limit student involvement and program offerings on campus.  

Cucchiara also touched on the lack of space in the University Center to include all organizations and the different hosted events, which causes tension and added stress for the organizers of various events. 

“Our student organizations are having to get creative — that’s where we come in where we can help them and strategize with them [by] marketing how they can make this event successful when they dont get their primary or secondary space for the event,” Cucchiara said. 

Despite the difficulties this semester has brought, Cucchiara believes the challenges are a good thing. 

“I wouldn’t say that they were issues … I think they are future challenges that we are going to see that are good challenges to have,” Cucchiara said. “We want to have [them], and we just have get creative.”  

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