Avoiding networking opportunities with fresh faces in class during the start of a new semester is effortless. Becoming a member of a student group, meeting new people and even starting a club can be just as easy.
Student Engagement held an Open House Jan. 17 in The Loft, 916 S. Wabash Ave. Building, a student space on the fourth floor filled with chairs and beanbags, a projection screen, a plasma TV and a curtain wall to create a “hang-out” environment for students. The event had a successful turnout this year, said Tillman-Curtis Liggins, sophomore marketing communication major and employee of Student
“I’ve been able to be successful and be sought out by different organizations on campus, different freelance opportunities [and] different internships,” Liggins said. “[Club involvement] is something to add to your resume and something that should be taken very seriously.”
Columbia has approximately 15 new clubs awaiting approval this semester, said Leslie Watland, Student Engagement coordinator. Some new clubs added last semester include cheerleading; the Muggles Association of Columbia, a group focused on Harry Potter-related activities; Planeswalkers, a group specialized in the “Magic: The Gathering” card game and Columbia Whovians, a group for supporters of the TV show
The Whovians were recognized as a club in October 2011 with a mission statement that includes use of the TV show to “keep creativity alive as it pushes us to stretch our imagination, re-evaluate the human race and enhance our sense of adventure.”
“It’s just kind of a relaxed environment where we can relish our nerddom,” said Sarah Kaddatz, junior audio arts and acoustics major and Columbia Whovians founder.
In addition to special interest clubs, 45 other clubs are offered, including those formed in relation to academic departments and those that fall under the categories of Media Arts, Fine and Performing Arts, Liberal Arts, Multicultural and graduate programs.
Starting a new club requires a sign-up of 15 members, a faculty adviser and paperwork including a definitive mission statement, a budget and plans for future events, Watland said. An average budget of $1,400 is assigned to each club depending on its activity, expenditures and contribution toward fulfilling its mission statement, she said.
According to Watland, club expenditures often include arranging guest speakers, organizing campus events and occupying meeting and event spaces. The Student Organizations Council, which allocates funds and decides which initiatives are worthwhile, screens purchases, she said.
“Occasionally, they want to do something that is crazy,” Watland said. “We’re not going to give money for a slip-and-slide fashion show where someone could get hurt. But most of the time they are asking [for] stuff that is completely appropriate, and most of the time they get approved.”
An elected board of officers and a faculty adviser are required of all clubs. Some faculty advisers share an interest in subject matter but aren’t active members in the “internal workings” of the group. This is true of Patrick Lichty, associate professor in the Interactive Arts and Media Department, and faculty adviser of the Japanese Anime and Manga Club, he said.
Even with the help of the electoral board, managing a club can be overwhelming because of personal course loads and coordinating schedules with other members, Kaddatz said. The Whovians have 35 members, but a range of 15–25 members show up to the meetings to watch older and newer episodes of “Doctor Who” that date back to 1989.
“We’re all working professionals,” said Liggins, who is also the events planner of the Black Student Union, a member of the One Tribe organization and a marketing freelancer. “Even the e-board is in and out. It’s always a revolving door. Don’t think you have to be dedicated to one organization because it’s not like that.”
Group participation also includes the chance for fundraising. Even though Kaddatz said the Whovians’ $800 was more than enough for the club’s budget, the organization plans to give back to the community through a fundraiser in collaboration with the Planeswalkers group, she said.
Money for clubs comes from the student activity fee included in tuition, in which Student Engagement predicts the number of clubs throughout the year and distributes the funds evenly, Watland said.
Student Engagement invites students and advertises clubs at events such as Convocation, Open House and Manifest, along with utilizing The Loft.
“If you’re not doing things outside of your classroom, you’re not really getting all of your money’s worth,” Watland said. “You’re paying for these events to happen, so you might as well be attending as many as you can to make sure you’re getting the most out of your tuition.”
For more on Student Engagement, visit Colum.edu/Students/Engagement/Student_Orgs.