Frequently Asked Questions

General

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What am I required to do as a UDR?

UDRs seek to facilitate faculty-student engagement, guide fellow students through the unique opportunities provided by their major/minor and initiate community-building activities within their department/program. Learn more about UDR responsibilities.

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Who in the Office of the Dean of Arts and Sciences is available to help me?

UDR program administrator Joan Tarkulich is the primary contact. Elaine Wong, senior associate dean for undergraduate education, can also be of assistance, though her calendar fills up quickly.

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What are some important dates to know?

Important dates for the 2019-20 academic year include:

  • Fall UDR training: Sunday, Sept. 15, 3:30-5 p.m.

  • Priority funding request deadlines: Sept. 30 (fall semester), Feb. 15, 2020 (spring semester) .

  • UDR activity reports due dates: Oct. 14, Nov. 29, Feb. 28 and April 17.

  • Annual UDR luncheon: To be determined.

Planning and Events

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What kind of events/programming should I do?

UDRs have organized a wide variety of events, including lectures, group discussions and exhibitions. But you don't have to limit yourself to events; you could provide a service (e.g., digital newsletters), attend faculty meetings to provide the student perspective or hold office hours to meet with and advise students.

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How do I decide what initiatives should be planned?

Consider these ideas:

  • Brainstorm with your academic administrator and/or undergraduate advising head.

  • Review past UDR reports and surveys for ideas.

  • Ask yourself: What specific information would be most useful to the department/program?

  • Investigate which programs were well-received in the past? Which programs were not successful? Examine why some programs were successful and some weren’t.

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I feel like I'm doing all the work. What should I do?

Talk to your co-UDR(s) and tell them how you feel about the situation. Don’t accuse, but try to discuss the situation as a problem that you would like to have them help you solve. Instead of saying, “I feel like I’m doing all of the work and would like some help,” you could say, “I feel overwhelmed by the amount of UDR work I have to do right now, and I would appreciate it if you can help with some if it so that our event is successful.”

Many times it is not that your co-UDRs don’t want to help; they may be very busy themselves and feel like they can’t commit the time. If you plan ahead, you can each try being responsible for a particular event/initiative, choosing a time of year when you know you can take on the work. If you try to work out the issue with your co-UDR and still feel like there is a problem, talk to the UDR Council or the UDR program administrator.

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Faculty and staff in my department are not responsive to my ideas. What can I do?

Make an appointment to talk with someone in the dean's office; they can suggest strategies for negotiating with your department/program.

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I would like to ask the opinion of other UDRs. How do I contact them?

If you would like to cast the widest net, draft a message and ask the UDR program administrator to broadcast it to the UDR listserv. If you would like to focus on a smaller group, e.g., all UDRs in the creative arts, you can find their names on this website.

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I have an idea for an event. Who can help me?

There are many Brandeis offices and departments that can offer support for UDR programming. Do not hesitate to contact them to collaboratively plan initiatives.

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Do you have any tips for how to begin planning an event?

Here are a few to get you started:

  • Plan ahead. It is very hard to get services and book on-campus space on short notice.

  • Attend a conference and events services Event Support meeting to help plan your program 

  • Food draws a crowd, so consider serving at least light refreshments.

  • Secure all required funding before incurring expenses.

  • To minimize conflicts, check university calendars when deciding on initiative dates and times.

  • Have a sign-in sheet at initiatives to collect names of students who may want to be on your distribution list.

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How do I publicize my event?

Some tried-and-true methods of publicity include:

  • Broadcast emails.

  • Stuffing student mailboxes.

  • Advertising in the student newspapers.

  • Posting to social media.

  • Making announcements in class.

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I just completed an event. Now what?

Evaluate your event. Do this as soon as possible after the event so that the details are fresh in your mind. If several UDRs were involved in the planning, schedule a short meeting to evaluate the event as a group. Take notes that can be referred to when planning future events and can be used to complete required UDR activity reports.

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Too few people attended my last event. What can I do to attract more people next time?

There may be many reasons for a small turnout, but the most common problems are the day, time or location of the event, and inadequate publicity. Follow these suggestions when planning future events:

  • Begin planning as far in advance as possible.

  • Check in with the department/program staff and consult campus event calendars to ensure that your event is not competing with other programming for the same type of audience.

  • Schedule the event at a time of day that does not conflict with classes and is convenient for students to attend.

  • Make sure that you adequately publicize the event by sending emails, posting flyers and spreading news by word of mouth.

  • Consider collaborating with one or more other department/program UDRs to encourage more students to attend.

Funding

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How do I fund an event?

There is no set amount of UDR funding for a particular initiative; however, funding is limited, so spending should be kept modest, i.e., snacks instead of a full dinner. Typically, the UDR program allocates about $75 per initiative. Ask your department/program and co-sponsoring organizations whether they have additional funds to contribute. You may also wish to seek grants from campus departments who have an interest in the topic of your event.

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I’ve lost my receipts. Can I still be reimbursed?

Probably, but we cannot guarantee it. Situations with missing paperwork are handled on a case-by-case basis. Talk to the UDR program administrator about your options.

Advising

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What is my role in advising students?

UDRs are considered the primary student contact for information about the specific major, minor or program that they represent. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements of your major/minor, which are listed in the University Bulletin. You can expect questions from current majors/minors, undeclared undergraduates and students applying or interested in applying to Brandeis.

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Are there any advising questions I shouldn’t answer?

You are not required to address any question you do not feel qualified to answer. However, you should be prepared to find the answer by consulting with someone else, such as the undergraduate advising head, or to refer the questioner to another staff member at the university.

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Where can I find information about advising?

The academic advising website is the best source for general information. For specific questions about your major/minor, speak with your undergraduate advising head.

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How do I become an active listener?

There are five key elements of active listening. Together, they help ensure that you hear the other person, and that the other person knows you understand what they are saying:

  1. Pay attention.

  2. Show that you're listening.

  3. Provide feedback.

  4. Defer judgment.

  5. Respond appropriately.

Reporting Responsibilities

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What are UDR activity reports?

Twice a semester UDRs are required to submit an online activity report that summarizes their completed initiatives to date and, if applicable, any initiatives that are planned for the remainder of the semester. These reports inform us about the valuable and impactful work you are doing and help us build a catalog of  planning resources that can be shared with other UDRs. The reports are also the basis for awarding UDR Recognition Prizes each semester.

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What are year-end reports?

All UDRs are asked to prepare a year-end report of accomplishments and works-in-progress to share with the incoming UDRs in their department/program.