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Pillars of the Forty Acres - Frequently Asked Questions

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General Program Questions | Student Activities Specific Criteria

General Program Questions

Q: How do I get my organization involved in the Pillars of the Forty Acres?
A: Visit our Pillars Instruction page to learn how to get involved.

Q: Is there a deadline for enrollment in the Pillars of the Forty Acres?
A: Yes. To enroll, an Authorized Representative must attend a Pillars Information Session by February 13, 2019.

Q: When is the deadline to complete the Pillars of the Forty Acres program?
A: The deadline to complete the Pillars of the Forty Acres program and submit all criteria is Thursday, February 28th at 11:59 PM CST. All programs and activities must be completed by then.

Q: How long does the Pillars of the Forty Acres program last?
A: The 2018-2019 cycle of the Pillars of the Forty Acres program runs from March 1, 2018 to February 28, 2019.

Q: Can my organization back log completed criteria?
A: Yes, the organization can count all criteria completed during the 2018-2019 cycle as long as it was completed following criteria specific guidelines outlined on the Pillars site and/or via the campus partners.

Q: Is the organization expected to complete all six pillars (Learning, Discovery, Freedom, Leadership, Individual Opportunity and Responsibility) in order to receive recognition?
A: No, you must earn eight points in at least one category to receive Distinguished Status, but you may complete additional categories and receive Distinguished Status for multiple Core Value categories. If your organization achieves Distinguished Status in five of the six categories, you will receive Exemplary Status.

Q: Will I be able to alter the roster for my student organizations from semester to semester (since the program is year-long)?
A: When confirming attendance and awarding points, Student Activities will refer to the roster you have listed in HornsLink. When logging points, you will often be required to list the names of members who participated in completing the criteria. These members must be listed in your organizations HornsLink roster or the criteria will be null. HornsLink rosters can be updated by the authorized representatives of your organization at any time.

Q: My student organization is very large, and it will be difficult to achieve the required 75% membership at each meeting. How can we participate in the program?
A: If membership attendance is an issue, your student organization can focus on a category requiring criterion that involve more individual efforts (such as leadership summits, workshops and trainings) rather than the larger presentation criteria. We would also encourage you to utilize the "submit your own criteria" option available in every category.

Q: There are several criteria that require a consultation with Student Activities. Can I discuss multiple criteria in one meeting and count it for two separate criteria?
A: No, because consultations are only scheduled for 30 minutes there is not enough time to discuss multiple criteria in one meeting. However, you may schedule separate meetings in back-to-back timeslots. For more information on completing these criteria, see the "Student Activities Specific Criteria" link above for more details.

Q: I am the Pillars Contact for my organization. Am I required to attend all meetings and consultations for the Pillars program?
A: No, any authorized representative can complete a consultation for program criteria with Student Activities, but we will communicate directly with the Pillars Contact for any updates or concerns regarding your organization completing the program.

Q: My organization applied for a Swing Out Award last semester and won. How many points do we receive?
A: You receive 2 points for winning the award. Organizations that apply for an award and do not win will receive 1 point. The points will be applied for the year after you apply and/or win.

Q: Can we receive multiple points for the same criterion?
A: No, an organization may only win points for each criterion once. For example, if your organization received two Swing Out Awards, only one of the wins would qualify and your organization would receive 2 points. Similarly, the same event or program cannot be used to receive multiple criteria points in the same category or separate categories.

Q: Can we submit multiple miscellaneous criteria?
A: Yes, an organization may submit multiple miscellaneous criteria but only 1-2 of those criteria will be considered. The total number of points awarded for miscellaneous submissions per Core Value category will be 2.

Q: What are some examples of suggested miscellaneous criterion?
A: The miscellaneous criteria should be something that sets your organization apart from others, something in which your organization takes pride and would like to showcase. You could submit special projects that do not fall under any of the criterion listed in the category. You are required to provide rationale for how your miscellaneous criterion connects to the Core Value category for which it is submitted. Please utilize the Miscellaneous Rubric as a guide when providing rationale.

Q: When is the deadline to submit miscellaneous criteria?
A: The deadline to complete the Pillars of the Forty Acres program and submit all criteria is Thursday, February 28th at 11:59 PM CST.

Q: How will we know if the miscellaneous criteria was approved?
A: All miscellaneous criteria submitted by 11:59 PM CST on Tuesday, February 19th will be reviewed by Student Activities to determine if it's been approved or denied. Notifications will be sent to the organizations Pillars contact by 5:00 PM CST on Wednesday, February 27, 2019. Miscellaneous criteria submitted after the February 19th deadline is not guaranteed to be reviewed.

Q: If my miscellaneous criteria is not approved, can I resubmit?
A: Yes, you may resubmit by the February 28th deadline.

Q: Can I have my miscellaneous criteria reviewed and approved via email?
A: No, you must submit it via the Pillars Submit portal for review. If you have general questions about the miscellaneous guidelines and rubric, you may schedule an appointment with Student Activities at 512-471-3065.

Q: Can I have my miscellaneous criteria reviewed and approved in person?
A: No, you must submit it via the Pillars Submit portal for review and approval. If you have general questions about the miscellaneous guidelines and rubric, you may schedule an appointment with Student Activities at 512-471-3065.

If you have any other questions regarding the Pillars of the Forty Acres recognition program, please contact awards@austin.utexas.edu.

Student Activities Specific Criteria

There are several criteria that require a consultation with Student Activities. Each consultation is scheduled for 30 minutes. You are not allowed to discuss multiple criteria in one consultation and count it for two separate criteria. You may schedule up to two back to back meetings and as many individual meetings as needed to complete the needed consultations by calling 512-471-3065.

Below you'll find general guidelines to help prepare for each consultation. For criteria listed with an "*", you must bring a copy of your plan to the Student Activities consultation to receive credit.

*Academic Plan/Program (Discovery): Student organization leaders are encouraged to think critically on how their organization can support and encourage the academic success of its members. The plan may include events, activities such as study halls, recognition of individual and group success, and utilization of campus resources that promote academic success such as workshops, guest speakers, tutors etc..

Advisor Meeting/Workshop (Leadership): To schedule an appointment to meet with the Student Activities staff member, Advisors can contact our office at 512-471-3065. To learn more about upcoming workshops, please have your advisor email Student Activities at studentactivities@austin.utexas.edu.

Alumni Event (Individual Opportunity): The purpose of hosting an Alumni Event is to 1) recognize and honor several alumni of the student organization and 2) provide an opportunity for new and current members to network with alumni in attendance. Keep the following in mind as you plan your alumni event:

  • The event must take place by February 28, 2019
  • The event should be held on-campus either indoors or outdoors and must include a formal program that recognize alum in attendance.
  • Events can recognize a single alumni member, but multiple alum must be in attendance. Inviting 1-2 alumni to a general body meeting or to an event already scheduled by the organization will not fulfil the needs of the requirement. 
  • A consultation with Student Activities prior to the event is required to discuss event planning best practices, Institutional Rules, and ensure that requirements for this criterion will be met. Only consultations with Student Activities staff members will count.

*Goals Discussion (Leadership):  Student organization leaders are encouraged to discuss amongst each other and think critically about the goals that they have for their organizations. Leaders are encouraged to adopt SMART Goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Other aspects to consider include:

  • Are the goals meaningful?
  • Are there clear actions steps for each goal?
  • Do the goals provide a challenge and opportunity for growth for all members?
  • Is there a recognition system in place for when goals are met?

*New Member Education Program (Individual Opportunity): Student organization leaders are encouraged to think critically on how their organization supports its new members.  The plan should cover topics including but not limited to:

  • Learning about the history and values of the organization
  • Developing relationships amongst new members
  • Developing relationships between new and current members
  • Include a system to evaluate the New Member Education program

*Officer Transition Program (Leadership):  Student organization leaders are encouraged to think critically about their officer transition process to ensure that leadership transition is a smooth and efficient process. Student leaders should refer to the online Officer Transition Module for guidance on creating and implementing an officer transition program on how their organization can support and encourage the academic success of its members.

On-Campus Event: The student organization is required to host an on-campus event. Keep the following in mind as you plan your on-campus event:

  • A consultation with Student Activities prior to the event is required to discuss event planning best practices, Institutional Rules, and ensure that requirements for this criterion will be met. Only consultations with Student Activities staff members will count.
  • The event must take place by February 28, 2019
  • The event should be held on-campus either indoors or outdoors.
  • A request for the proposed event location must be submitted prior to the event consultation (however, Student Activities is happy to discuss your ideas and give feedback before you officially move forward with planning your event).   
  • Events can be open to the UT Community or limited to the student organization members/closed to the public (i.e. ticketed). Event must be separate from previously scheduled general body meetings.

*Risk Management Plan (Responsibility): Student organizations are encouraged to think critically about risk management for the organization and its programs. No matter how big an event or how small an activity, risk (or an undesirable outcome) will be present at some level.  The plan should outline efforts to reduce individual liability and ensure a fun, safe environment for participants.  Some types of risk to consider include: 

  • Physical Risk - involve harm or injuries to the physical body.
  • Financial Risk - involve both the budget for the specific event and the overall financial health of the student organization.
  • Reputational Risk - apply to the reputation of the individual officers and members present, the reputation of the student organization, and the reputation of the university as a whole.
  • Emotional Risk - pertain to the thoughts and feelings of the organization's members, participants or attendees, and any other constituents of the event or activity.
  • Facilities Risk - include both the safety of the facilities used for your members/participants and the maintenance of the facilities used by your members/participants.

*Social Media Guidelines (Responsibility):  Student organizations are encouraged to think critically about the use of social media and research best practices in the creation of their guidelines.  Guidelines should outline the policies, goals, and purposes regarding student organization owned social media only. Questions to address include but are not limited to:

  • Why does your organization use a particular platform?
  • What is the goal and purpose of each platform (internal communication, recruiting, promote the organization and its events etc.)?
  • Who has access and is there a written policy guiding its use? Student organization leaders should discuss this topic

If you have any other questions regarding the Pillars of the Forty Acres recognition program, please contact awards@austin.utexas.edu.


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