April 11, 2014
Editor evaluates student involvement in clubsAt one of the recent executive meetings for the SU Belly Dance Circle, shortly after I was named the new co-captain for next year, the graduating captain reminded both myself and the rising senior captain about one very important fact -- it is now up to us to keep up the memberships. In other words, it is our job to keep the club alive and afloat through the numbers of our members.
This is easier said than done.
Such a task involves not only keeping current members interested but also persuading incoming freshmen to join. This is getting harder and harder to do. Last year, there were around a dozen Level 1's (first-time belly dancers).
This year, we had somewhere around 30 people sign up to express their interest in our Level 1 classes. There are currently a grand total of five Level 1's in the club right now.
And yet, we are better off than some other clubs. SU Swings, I have heard, is in its death throes this year. I remember during the activities fair at the beginning of this school year, one of the members of SU Swings came up and asked my captain if she could sit in on a class or two because she was looking to see how we held on to new recruits. She needed the advice because membership in her club was dropping so badly.
A friend of mine who is in the Swing club did tell me that there didn't seem to be as many members. She couldn't speak for recent weeks, as she herself hasn't been going to the last few meetings. The same thing is happening to the SU Democrats, of which she is also a member. The SU Democrats are not even listed in the clubs and organizations page of the SU website -- only the SU Republicans are, just as the Republicans are the only ones I have seen with any sort of advertising on campus. Additionally, my friend attempted to start a Retro Gaming Club on campus, and that fell through fast due to a lack of people who actually showed up.
I am all for diversity and special interest in on-campus clubs. I know the clubs I belong to are definitely special interest. But the problem is that there are so many different clubs on campus that students are not given the opportunity to properly express every interest they might have. There are many clubs that meet at the same time or have overlapping time slots, forcing some students to choose between one or the other.
I am currently in only two extra-curricular activities -- the Crusader and Belly Dance Circle -- and those commitments take up all of my time. I have already decided not to return to Stadium Band in the fall because I can no longer afford to give up my Saturdays to that activity. I certainly don't have time to try the Handbell Choir, the Anime and Manga Association, the Karate or Boxing clubs, or try to work with the RiverCraft or Sanctuary magazines, if only to see what they are like.
Not to say that I don't enjoy being in the organizations I'm in. I'm just saying that for someone with interests as diverse as mine, the fact that I have to limit myself so severely can seem a little oppressing at times.
And so we have dozens upon dozens of clubs, all competing for the attention of both current and incoming students. And since students can only pick a few activities to devote their time to, it leads to a drop in membership levels. Eventually, this will lead to some clubs withering and dying.
I'm not sure if there is a hard-and-fast solution for this problem. Perhaps some clubs of similar interests can combine. That way scheduling conflicts will be less of a hassle, and members will be exposed to something new alongside what they signed up for.
All I know for sure is that the more membership continues to decline, the more clubs will have to shut down. And eventually, it won't be a problem of picking between too many choices -- it will be a problem of coping with too few.
FORUM HEADLINESChaplin's Corner Student says hasta luego Editor evaluates student involvement in clubs