If you have spent a large sum of time at the University of Georgia, you may have asked, “who are those students wearing matching black blazers?”
The Arch Society, one of the most recognizable student organizations on campus, provides service to the university as official hosts and goodwill ambassadors. Whether cheering on the Dawgs from the front row at home football games, checking in distinguished guests at university ceremonies, or giving tours to local elementary schools, members of the Arch Society—affectionately known as POTA, People of the Arch—serve the university in many contexts.
Founded in 1992 by Tom Cochran, former assistant vice president for finance and administration within the office of the vice president for student affairs, Arch Society comprises thirty-six members who provide “humble service”—a core concept outlined in the organization’s charter—to university partners.
“Humble service is both a core value and the mission of the Arch Society,” states Sarah Burnett, current Arch Society chair and fourth-year student in the College of Public Health. “For Arch Society members, humble service means honoring the opportunity to give back to your community without an expectation of recognition or credit. Whether serving on an assignment, attending our weekly meetings, or cheering the Dawgs on in Sanford Stadium, humble service is the foundation of all that we do.”
Selected for their dedication and servant-leadership approach to service, members are deeply engaged throughout various university departments and organizations aside from their involvement in Arch Society, from Student Government to University Housing to Multicultural Services and Programs. POTA show their commitment to UGA in and out of the blazer through their various passions around campus.
“Arch Society is unique as a student organization on our campus because our members accept and honor their commitment to humble service,” said advisor and UGA Vice President for Student Affairs, Victor K. Wilson (BSW ’82, MED ’87). “The amazing student leaders who serve as a part of the Arch Society always have a strong work ethic, positive mindset, and deep desire to be dedicated to every assignment they serve on. These leaders make me and so many others on campus proud by serving as role models through their stellar service to the UGA community and so many others.”
Along with working a wide range of assignments across departments, Arch Society maintains a strong culture of bonding both within and without. From gathering for annual Arch Society social traditions to welcoming faculty, alumni and student leaders to share a meal at “Archgiving,” Arch Society is committed to its community.
This tight-knit community comes with a strong foundation: Arch Society alumni who continue to stay engaged with the organization. Among the most engaged former POTA is Kim Metcalf (BSEH ’93, MS ’96). Kim was a charter member of Arch Society, one of the first to wear the blazer, and she remains engaged with the organization and the university as a whole. Kim serves annually on Arch Society’s selection committee, which is composed of outgoing Arch Society students, university faculty, and Arch alumni, all of whom help select new Arch Society classes.
“UGA gave me so much as a student and shaped me into the woman I am today,” Kim explains. “I decided as a student to forever stay involved with UGA and share my time and treasure as possible. I have always stayed connected to Arch Society—I wanted to make sure that all of our students had an amazing experience just like I did. I’ve been so honored to sit on the selection committee to help the organization continue to flourish.”
During Arch Society’s thirty-one years, tradition and values have remained at the forefront of the organization, and humble service is simultaneously the core value of the organization and its most enduring tradition. So, the next time you see the students in the black blazers cheering at the game or handing you a nametag at a reception, be sure to say hi. There are three decades of hospitality in those jackets, and they’d love to prove it to you.