Start student organizations the right way


Ashleigh McGuire (right) and Alaina Smith (left) lead Greenthumb’s march across campus to President Eli Capilouto’s office. Photo by Will Wright | Staff

Patrick Brennan

Participating in clubs and activities can be one of the most rewarding experiences in college. One can connect on similar interests, work toward a goal, and build up experience all while meeting new friends.

The planning behind the groups, though, is tricky to get right. Each group must figure out the best way to advertise themselves and how to start the semester off well.

Many of us can say we were part of a club that failed to materialize or do anything substantive. It can be disappointing to join a club that slows to a halt soon after the semester starts.

The antithesis of this is UK’s Greenthumb Environmental Club. They are organized, committed and effective. Last semester, the club leaders held a pre-semester meeting to start the semester strong.

Then, the Greenthumb members and leadership team met weekly, setting an easy routine to follow. Because of this, the group was able to accomplish a lot, from letter drops to an on-campus march to President Eli Capiluto’s office urging him to adopt a climate action plan.

Last semester, I was surprised to see posters up in mid-October advertising the first meeting of the Philosophy Club. Would it not be better to start earlier in order to get the most out of the semester, like Greenthumb?

Michael Frazier, a philosophy, economics and political science junior (who is also president of the Philosophy Club), said the delay was intentional. The philosophy club, he said, cannot compete with the excitement of K-Week, or the mass tabling events, since the club is easily stigmatized as just for philosophy students.

By starting later in the semester, Frazier said the philosophy club is able to meet students around campus for a few weeks and advertise separately from other groups as something fun to start once most everything else settles.

“This is unique, and this is what works for the philosophy club,” Frazier said.

Since executing this plan, the Philosophy Club has been able to attract more than the usual suspects of upper-class philosophy students. Now, Frazier said the group retains a couple dozen diverse and interested students.

Hearing the success of the philosophy club, I realized that sticking to the standard approach for setting up a club can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. However, as a school of almost 30,000 students, no matter what the interest is, there must be other students out there who would like to join in.

Ultimately, student groups across campus can improve and even learn from each other on the best ways to plan their club; and there might be a more appropriate means to begin and sustain your group.

If you would like to get involved, the Philosophy club plans to meet Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. in Whitehall Room 203.

Patrick Brennan is the assistant opinions editor of the Kentucky Kernel.

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