Organizational Development

Should there be limits?

Carlos is the Vice President for his student government, and a part of his job duties include planning the organization’s retreat each fall. Every year, student government holds a two-night retreat at a site off-campus. It is a weekend filled with workshops, icebreakers, goal-setting and organizational development activities. The retreat site is ideal, on the coast, with large spaces for programming, easy access to food, and great opportunities for bonding. It is also the lowest cost of any site in the area, and the only site that falls within student government’s budget. Members always return from the retreat with a great sense of the organization, a feeling of closeness to other members, and great energy to begin the year. It is a vital part of student government’s formation.

When Carlos begins the process of booking the retreat this year, he discovers the price has doubled. The retreat was already as low-budget as possible, and there are no corners Carlos can cut to compensate for the price increase. Even with the price increase, the coastal retreat site is still far less expensive than any other off-campus options. Carlos knows that taking members off-campus has been a vital part of the retreat. When the organization made the shift from on to off-campus retreats several years ago, the efficacy of retreats and their impact on student government members increased significantly. In order to book the site, money will need to be pulled from the greater student government budget, which means less will be available for the student body. This would mean that important student government programs will have less funding for materials or events. Carlos wonders if the retreat is worth it.

Should he take money from programs that directly benefit the student body in order to fund a retreat that only benefits student government leaders? Or does the formation that occurs at the retreat allow student government to more positively impact the student body? How do you balance spending on organizational development with spending on the student body? Which is of greater importance?

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