by Haley Burnside, Senior Writer
Student Government and Student Engagement are working together to lift the freeze on new clubs on campus. The freeze is expected to be officially lifted in the coming fall semester. The initiative, which is being spearheaded within Student Government by Vice President for Club Administration, Haley Nightingale, has been a long time coming.
“The Student Government board and I have been considering how to handle to moratorium for the past several months. We were placed in an awkward position getting elected and coming into office with a huge budget cut to clubs as well as a moratorium in place,” said Nightingale.
The process of change has been intentionally slow, as the members of Student Government wanted to be careful in their actions. Fortunately, the work is just starting to pay off, and the changes will be seen soon.
“We were very cautious when beginning to move forward with the change because we did not want to negatively impact any existing clubs. As the semester progressed, we found ourselves in a good position to lift the club freeze and set it up for next semester that will benefit existing clubs and give more students an outlet to express their interest on our campus,” said Nightingale.
There are a number of factors that prompted the lift, according to Executive Director of Student Engagement, John Bennett.
“There have been so many requests for new clubs, yet the budgets for Student Government clubs definitely does not increase annually at the same rate of the request of new clubs. For instance, within our office in the past year alone, we have over 15 club proposals already in the queue that students had requested during this moratorium on adding new clubs,” said Bennett.
Ultimately, Bennett credits the efforts of Nightingale and her fellow assembly-members in Student Government for the lift on the moratorium.
“At the end of the day though, what really prompted the lift? Members of Student Government wanting to help out fellow students as much as they can, it’s definitely a way of them showing that they hear and are in touch with the student body,” said Bennett.
Both Bennett and Nightingale want to emphasize that this decision should not negatively impact existing clubs or their budgets.
“It really shouldn’t, because the idea is that only new ideas are going to be entertained for clubs,” said Bennett. “If something similar or pretty close already exists as one of the Student Government clubs on campus already, it probably wouldn’t be approved. So the existing clubs shouldn’t feel like they’re going to take a hit in that sense.”
Though Nightingale does not know exactly how the lift will play out, she is hopeful that it will be a positive outcome for students.
“I don’t think it will directly impact the existing clubs but my hopes are that it strengthens student ties on campus and makes our campus more inclusive and comfortable for students!” she said.
To ensure that the current club budget is not negatively impacted by the new decision, only two new clubs will be allowed. They will fill the place of existing official clubs that are no longer operating, as Bennett explained.
“Right now, Student Government is only planning to accept two new club proposals, to the last two defunct clubs on campus. So, as long as they stay with these guidelines that they have set forth themselves, it really should be a wash, so-to-speak, and current club budget shouldn’t really be affected by the addition of two new clubs,” said Bennett.
Several unofficial clubs are vying for the spots, hoping to reap the benefits of official status. Joe Vaiana, a student involved with WRCM, hopes that his club is one of the two accepted.
“I absolutely think WRCM should be an official club. The effort put in from the founding team, the unbelievably fast growing community, and our joy from running the radio shows really prove that we have serious traction,” said Vaiana. “By making it an official club, it can be better advertised to new and prospective students.”
Vaiana believes that the budget that comes along with club status would aid the success of WRCM as it finds its footing on campus once again.
“WRCM was a rich part of our school’s history, and it’s super apparent when talking with alumni. It feels great to bring it back to the school,” said Vaiana. “Hopefully the club could see a steady stream of funding to upgrade equipment and do events.”
The Performing Hearts, one of the college’s two unofficial acapella clubs, is also hoping to become official according to one of its leaders. Naomi Uy, a psychology major and music minor, thinks that the club would greatly benefit from the change in status.
“Since our group only recently formed at the beginning of last semester, becoming an official club would allow us to be taken more seriously on campus and provide us with more opportunities to prove how dedicated and passionate we are about performing arts,” said Uy. “Being an official club could provide us with more chances to perform outside of campus or even compete in intercollegiate a cappella competitions, bringing more attention to the department and showing how talented everyone is.”
Though Uy wants to see Performing Hearts achieve official status, she understands that the competition for one of the two spots is intense.
“I hope the PH’s are chosen but I do understand that we are a relatively new club and that there are many more organizations that have been around and have been waiting for this opportunity for much longer.”
Regardless of the outcome of the decision, Uy is confident that her club will continue to make music on campus.
Some clubs, like the Math Club, are content with their status at the moment. Junior Kristen Friedman, one of the club’s founding members, anticipates that the club will pursue official status eventually, but after it is more established.
“The Math Club is not an official club as of right now, and we are not seeking to be one at this time. We only started last semester and we are still working on getting our membership up,” said Friedman in an e-mail statement. “We did discuss the idea of being an official club when we first started, but we feel that we need to grow more, which we are confident will happen!”
In the meantime, the club is not without funding, entirely.
“At the moment we occasionally combine events with the Math Department, for example the Math Department usually throws a party for all of the math majors in the spring and this year we made that a Math Club event, and since the Math Department had funding to contribute, we were able to have pizza,” said Friedman.
The Radiologic Science Society is another unofficial club that will continue to operate that way. According to its President, Cathy Goodyear, the club has always been successful without official status.
“In the past we have asked our members for dues, five dollars per semester. But we mostly support ourselves through fundraising like t-shirt painting and bracelet sales. Our big money-maker is the semi annual bake sale,” said Goodyear.
Because the club has generated its own revenue, it will not be pursuing the chance to obtain official status next fall.
Lotus Magazine, the Manhattones, Dining for Women, and multiple other groups on campus hold unofficial club status, and they may be considering applying for the slot. Official decisions about the two new clubs will not be made until closer to the end of the semester.
Editor’s Note: Cathy Goodyear is a Senior Writer for The Quadrangle.