Student SPJ chapters may soon have more ways to receive recognition at the regional level.
“What we’re hoping to do is address what we saw as an imbalance,” said Andrew Schotz, SPJ Awards and Honors Committee Chair. “There are many more student chapters than there are pro chapters.”
Currently, each SPJ region presents 12 chapter awards annually to professional chapters, covering topics from ethics to diversity. All student campus chapters within a region compete for a single “Outstanding Campus Chapter Award.”
“That didn’t sit right with some of us, but the problem is we can’t just start adding [awards],” he said. “We might have too much as it is. We didn’t want to tinker with it too much.”
The board has tentatively decided to add a “Best Program” award for student campus chapters and divide the single “Outstanding Campus Chapter” into two—a first place and runner-up, to allow two student chapters recognition at the regional level.
Schotz said the decision for the additional student chapter awards will not take place at this Saturday’s business meeting because the process is less formal and only includes regional directors.
“The chapter awards are something we review and give out as a group,” he said of the regional directors. “We’re just going to make sure we all agree on our final plan. If there’s any objections, we might tinker with it a little bit more.”
Triston Giesie and Jakob Rodriguez, both co-presidents of Texas State University’s student SPJ chapter, said the idea of additional awards was motivating to them.
“I’m about winning awards, honestly,” Rodriguez said.
Giesie explained that his chapter membership numbers have dwindled and their chapter is a shell of what it once was. The duo plans to work hard to improve membership and programming to hopefully win an award.
“We’re going to take this opportunity to be like a phoenix and rise from the ashes,” Giesie said.
Schotz emphasized that the regional directors are still considering this addition, and it’s not confirmed at this time.
“This may not be the final plan, but I have a feeling it will be the plan close to it,” he said.
Schotz said the regional directors may decide to confirm the addition of two new student chapter awards by this Sunday, Sept. 10.