Volume 47, Number 8 - December 1, 2009

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Sergio Candido
Sergio Candido

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Club requirements questioned by faculty and students

By Sergio Candido

The North Campus is home to 30 student organizations; however, faculty and students say that several active clubs have been hindered by the long list of requirements set by the Student Life department.

“We have something that should work for students, that should encourage students to organize around special needs or special goals that they have but it’s not [about] that, it’s about the paperwork; it’s about means becoming more important than ends themselves,” said Dr. David Demko, a sociology professor, who currently serves as advisor for three student organizations.

“It is a bureaucratic system designed to fail and to oppress students who really just want to do some good.”

Based on the registration packet provided by Student Life, to start a club students have to: attend a workshop, get an advisor who is a full-time or part-time faculty or staff at the North Campus (and attends the two mandatory workshops). The club must have at least six members who meet the criteria (currently take six credits and have a 2.0 grade point average) and create a constitution, among other things.

According to Evelyn Rodriguez, the student organizations’ coordinator, requirements are similar to and sometimes based on other universities’ requirements.

“We do think they are very fair,” Rodriguez said.

But both students and faculty say they’ve had problems meeting the requirements.

“In the middle of a work day, on a Wednesday or a Monday, I teach four classes and to have to go to a workshop in the middle of that is exhausting,” said Lisa Shaw, professor of English and advisor to AXIS Creative Arts/Club.

“We were told that if advisors did not go, they could not be advisors.”

This semester, one of the student clubs that did not meet the requisites to become an official organization was the Islamic Student Association.

“It wasn’t that they were rejected; they did not meet the deadline,” Rodriguez said. “No new organization was allowed to submit [registration] packets for the fall term after 7 p.m. on Sept. 16,” she added.

Demko, who was going to serve as the club’s advisor, believes there should be greater opportunities for students to practice leadership skills. He also thinks that rules should be more flexible for clubs.

“To me that is obscene, he (the president of the Islamic Student Association) can’t start a club because of a technicality, that doesn’t make any sense!”

Requirements continue once student organizations have been approved.

Club meetings have to be scheduled with a four to six weeks of anticipation and advisors have to be present at every meeting.

According to Francesca Chimenelli, managing editor for Axis Magazine, her club has 25 members and they had to re-schedule meetings around their advisors’ availability. Now only seven students are able to attend the meetings regularly.

“Because we have to have the advisors there and their only available time is on Friday at 1 p.m. no one is in school at that time,” Chimenelli said.

Also, clubs have to hold mandatory fundraising activities on a weekly basis and paperwork needs to be submitted for each session.

“It’s an issue; it’s a problem; too many regulations and too much to do,” said Chimenelli.

Other requirements include: 200 community service hours per student organization (per academic year) and if clubs want to organize an event, they need to submit the necessary forms six to five weeks in advance and provide a list of the learning outcomes that the event fulfills.

Jaime Anzalotta, director of Student Life, the department in charge of evaluating and accepting student clubs, countered via e-mail saying that “deadlines and policies have to be created and implemented to ensure structure.”

But Shaw believes that if rules are not changed, the number of students participating in clubs will decrease drastically.

“This can discourage people who go to a club because they want to feel a casual, friendly, enjoyable atmosphere, not more imposition,” Shaw said.

“The idea is: you have people of like mind who are coming together for a single purpose, enjoying themselves doing it because it’s not required, and as soon as we start imposing requirements it feels like school work and assignments, a club should not be like that.”

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