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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Bringing life to UA clubs

During orientation week for international students, I remember getting some kind of checklist about how to make friends in America. As I am such a diligent student, I read through all the materials they gave us, assuming there would be some kind of wisdom contained within the pages that would be indispensable to my having a complete and well-rounded experience in the USA.

My athletic ineptitude meant that joining sports teams would only get me haters, not friends, so I had to look to the next item on the aforementioned list, suggesting that we get involved in the school community by joining clubs. 

So I did. Kind of.

What I quickly realized was that many, if not most (I didn’t have time to sit in on the activities of all 400-odd registered clubs on campus), suffer from a chronic shortage of members. It seems that the ones that do achieve a high level of cohesion and have enough students regularly attending are the ones that have essentially formed a clique within a club and are little more than friends who meet up every so often and like to designate titles to one another.

That’s not to say that my experience was altogether disappointing; far from it. Rather, I’ve found that few students bother to invest their time into clubs, thus few attend, thus fewer are compelled to keep attending and so on and so forth. It’s a vicious cycle and one that many club presidents are sadly resigned to. 

It shouldn’t be difficult for people with common interests, skills or activities to meet up and find things to talk about, but there is little motivation for club leaders to organize activities when no one is attending.

The clubs found in Australian universities are no different. My experience in the creative writing club at home lasted all of a semester during my first year. The promised workshops, wine and cheese poetry readings and guest speakers never eventuated. The meetings usually consisted of two or three older club members reminiscing on the good old days when people would actually get involved in the activities, while the couple of us who came to the school expecting this experience would sit around and let our eyes glaze over. 

French and finance junior and president of the Voila Francophone club Tolan Thornton is all too familiar with the struggles of founding and funding a club. 

“”Student clubs can be lots of fun, especially when you find the right mix of people, but there always seems to be a disappearing act of members as the semester progresses,”” Thornton says. “”It’s been an interesting battle … trying to get funding.””

There are many benefits to being a member of a club, all of which were recognized by Thornton and the co-founders of Voila Francophone when they decided to fill the need for a French club on campus themselves. “”Clubs are great ways to meet people — you can do community service, explore a subject, network and even get free food,”” Thornton said.

And he should know. Voila Francophone is just one of many clubs that provides a warm, welcoming atmosphere to all its members, and an opportunity to indulge old interests and perhaps even develop new ones. 

There is a huge array of clubs to choose from, catering to interests as varied as flying, languages, eating and math. Anyone who is not completely devoid of passion or interest in leisurely pursuits will be able to find something suitable for them. 

The list of recognized clubs at the UA can be found on the ASUA Web site. We just have to hope that the club officers don’t tire of creating these wonderful, but often unnoticed, environments while we attempt to read the entire list.

Dunja Nedic is an Australian Exchange Student.

She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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