Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Contracted Independent Organizations (aka CIO's)

In high school, you all probably participate in tons of clubs and do a bazillion different activities from playing sports to doing community service through the Key Club. Well at UVa, we take all those opportunities to a whole new level with our CIO's, which is UVa lingo for clubs. To the left, you will see a picture of the Student Activities Fair that Student Council hosts during the first week of school where our 600+ CIO's try to lure in new members. A small sample of our offerings: Alternative Spring Break, A Cappella Groups, Ultimate Frisbee, Robotics, Step It Up, Baking, Shakespeare on the Lawn, American Medical Students Association, Student Athlete Advisory Committee, and many many more!

Now we don't just call them CIO's so we can toot our horn and feel special about being different but rather it is to emphasize a central concept to the University, student self-governance. Each CIO declares its independence in its constitution (hey, we were founded by TJ!) through the following manner: "Although this organization has members who are University of Virginia students and may have University employees associated or engaged in its activities and affairs, the organization is not a part of or an agency of the University. It is a separate and independent organization which is responsible for and manages its own activities and affairs. The University does not direct, supervise or control the organization and is not responsible for the organization’s contracts, acts or omissions."

This independence allows students to think big and not be restricted by the University in terms of what they can and cannot do. More importantly, it allows students to gain invaluable leadership skills running these CIO's as each CIO has an Executive Board which recruits new members, hosts events, and secures the funding to put on the events. These skills make UVa graduates prized commodities in the workforce and many alumni have told me that the skills they picked up leading organizations on Grounds have been more useful to them in their careers than the Introduction to Microeconomics class they took their first-year.

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