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Pillars of the Forty Acres - Frequently Asked Questions

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General Program Questions | Student Activities Specific Criteria | Special Criteria Guidelines

General Program Questions

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.

Is there a deadline for enrollment in the Pillars of the Forty Acres?
A: Yes. To enroll, an officer must attend a Pillars Information Session by February 13, 2020.

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 Saturday, February 29, 2020 at 11:59 PM CST. All programs and activities must be completed by then.

How long does the Pillars of the Forty Acres program last?
A: The 2019-2020 cycle of the Pillars of the Forty Acres program runs from March 1, 2019 to February 29, 2020.

Can my organization backlog completed criteria?
A: Yes, the organization can count all criteria completed during the 2019-2020 cycle as long as it was completed following criteria specific guidelines outlined on the Pillars site and/or via the campus partners.

Is the organization expected to complete all six pillars 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

My organization applied for a Swing Out Award last semester and won. How many points do we receive?
A: Points for applying and/or winning a Swing Out Award are applied to the appropriate Pillars timeframe. Any awards applied to and/or won between March 1, 2019 and February 29, 2020 will be applied to the 2019-2020 Pillars cycle. If your organization won a Swing Out Award in April 2019, it will receive two points.

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 won two Swing Out Awards, only one of the wins would qualify and your organization would receive two points. Similarly, the same event or program cannot be used to receive multiple criteria points in the same category or separate categories.

For FAQs regarding Student Activities specific criteria or special criteria guidelines, please see the links at the top of this page. 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 must be scheduled for 30 minutes (i.e. if you have two different criteria you wish to discuss, you must schedule two separate 30-minute consultations).  You may schedule up to two back to back meetings and as many individual meetings as needed.

Consultations can be scheduled Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and to complete the needed consultations by calling 512-471-3065. Though the deadline to submit Pillars criteria is Saturday, February 29, 2020, the deadline for completing a consultation with Student Activities is 4 p.m. on Friday, February 28, 2020.

Below you'll find general guidelines to help prepare for each consultation. For criteria listed with an "*", you must bring a printed or digital copy of your plan/program/guidelines 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 could 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, and tutors.

Advisor Meeting (Individual Opportunity): The advisor meeting is a 30-minute one-on-one session between the advisor and a Student Activities staff member. Advisors are encouraged to reflect on their experience and come prepared to discuss the benefits, challenges and resources to better support them in their role. To schedule an appointment to meet with the Student Activities staff member, Advisors can contact our office at 512-471-3065.

Advisor Seminar (Discovery): The advisor seminar is an all-day event that takes place on a no-class day in December. Advisors must be in attendance for at least half the program and listed on the student organizations HornsLink roster as a "University Adviser" in order to earn Pillars credit.  To learn more about the seminar, advisors can visit  http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sa/wkspstraining.php

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.

Awareness Rally (Freedom): The student organization is required to host an on campus awareness rally about a topic that is important to the organization (social justice, environmental justice, health or disease awareness, etc.). See below for requirements.

  • The awareness rally must take place on or before by February 29, 2020
  • The awareness rally must be held in an outdoor reservable space through the Virtual EMS portal.
  • Required Event Consultation
    • An event consultation with Student Activities is required to review Institutional Rules, policies, schedule follow up meetings as appropriate and approve the proposed awareness rally.
    • A request for the proposed outdoor event location must be submitted through the Virtual EMS portal prior to the event consultation.
    • The event consultation must be completed at least 7 days before the proposed evet but no later than February 21, 2020. 
    • Retroactive event consultations are not allowed.
    • To schedule an appointment, call 512-471-3065 and indicate that you'd like to complete an "event consultation for the Pillars Awareness Rally".
  • Student Activities staff is happy to complete a general consultation on your ideas and give feedback before you officially move forward with planning your awareness rally but this general consultation does not take place of the required event consultation described above.

*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 view the Goal Setting guide and 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 for Pillars credit.
  • The event must take place by February 29, 2020
  • 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 meeting.

*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.

Special Criteria Guidelines

For each Core Value category, student organizations are able to submit special criteria to be considered for points. The special criteria should be something that sets your organization apart from others, something in which your organization takes pride and would like to showcase. You can submit special projects that are not already listed 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 see below for additional guidelines.

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 Saturday, February 29th at 11:59 PM CST. Special criteria should be submitted as soon as possible as possible to ensure that there is time to provide feedback per the guidelines on this page.

Can we submit multiple special criteria?
A: Yes, an organization may submit two special criteria per Core Value category to be considered for points.

How many points are available for special criteria?
A: The total number of points that can be awarded for miscellaneous submissions per Core Value category is two (2).
• If one submission is accepted, it will be worth one (1) point or two (2) points
• If two submissions are accepted, each will be worth one (1) point

Can I have my special criteria reviewed and approved via email or in person?
A: No, you must submit it via the Pillars Submission portal for review.

When will Student Activities review special criteria submissions?
A: Student Activities will review special criteria submissions throughout the program cycle. All special criteria submitted by 11:59 PM CST on Thursday, February 20, 2020 will be reviewed by Student Activities to determine if it's been approved or denied. Special criteria submitted after this date is not guaranteed to be reviewed by the program deadline. Organizations that submit special criteria by this date will be notified by 5:00 PM CST on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 of their submission status.

How will my organization be updated regarding its special criteria submission?
A: Student Activities will notify the organizations Pillars contact by email regarding the status of special criteria submissions.

If my miscellaneous criteria is not approved, can I resubmit?
A: Yes, after receiving a notification from Student Activities, you may resubmit special criteria through the Pillars submission portal by the 11:59 PM CST deadline on February 29, 2020.

How will my organization know if our special criteria submission has been accepted or denied?
A: Student Activities will notify the organizations Pillars contact regarding the status of the submission.

Is there a rubric to help guide us on how specific criteria will be scored?
A: Yes, the rubric is outlined below. Student Activities will utilize this rubric to evaluate the submission.

  Exceeds Criteria Meets Criteria Does Not Meet Criteria
Points 2 1 0
Description of Criteria Meets Criteria AND has over 75% member participation. Required multiple detailed steps for completion (trainings, consultations, etc.) Criteria is detailed. Provides name of program, general overview, purpose, goals. Provides data on program achievement and impact. Criteria has few or no details.
Rationale and Making Connections Meets Criteria AND successfully connects, learning outcomes, criteria and Core Value. Connection between criteria and Core Value category are  clearly articulated. Adequately reflects on criteria, impact and connection to the Core Value category. Connection between criteria and Core Value category is vague, unclear or not provided; or clearly fits in a different category 

For FAQs regarding the general program or Student Activities specific criteria, please see the links at the top of this page. If you have any other questions regarding the Pillars of the Forty Acres recognition program, please contact Student Activities at awards@austin.utexas.edu.


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