Chess. Fencing. Swing dancing. Knitting.These are just a few of the options available to Trinity students who want to get involved on campus doing things they love. But what if, for some reason, the thing you love doesn’t yet have a club or organization devoted to it?
You create one, as some students have done so far this school year. The TEDxTU club and the American Sign Language club are both student organizations that were created last semester and are now entering into their first full semester of operation.
The process for creating a new organization involves five steps, according to Shannon Edmond, the coordinator for student programs.
“Step one is to meet with me. We go over goals, program ideas, how they expect to sustain the organization year after year, and we go over any ‘what-if’ scenarios. From there I bring it to all of student involvement staff and we decide if this organization is a good fit for Trinity’s campus. If so, we move on to the next four steps,” Edmond said.
These next steps involve a series of proposals and a comprehensive review and approval process, which Edmond says can happen in any order. New clubs must create a constitution, fill out a new student organization form, name an advisor, watch risk management videos and take related quizzes, and fill out a roster form to ensure that their organization has at least 10 members.
“We do give exceptions to some groups such as religious groups and some cultural groups, but overall, minimum 10 students per organization,” Edmond said.
Once all of these steps have been completed, Edmond takes the proposal to the Student Involvement staff, where they go over the constitution as a team. Only when the organization gets a unanimous vote is it allowed to operate on campus.
Edmond explained that although the process may seem long, it can actually be completed quickly if student organizers are efficient.
“I always tell students when they come in here that it’s as quick as they make it. There’s not a standard amount of time that it takes; it really depends on if they’re willing to put in the work,” Edmond said.
Rohan Walawalkar, the sophomore anthropology major who started the TEDxTU organization, does admit that the process can be strenuous.
“It is an arduous process; it is a long process, and it is very, very bureaucratic in nature,” Walawalkar said.
However, the TEDx organization had the extra difficulty of having to apply for the TEDx license. The TEDx project grants organizations these licenses to hold a TED-style event for one day.
“In that event, you’re supposed to bring the TED experience to your own community,” Walawalkar said.
Only when Walawalkar got approval from Trinity’s administration could he seek the extra license required from the TEDx project.
“I sent in the TEDx license application, which was a demon of its own, and got approved,” he said.
Walawalkar explained that his organization is different from most other clubs on campus in that TEDx doesn’t have weekly meetings or activities.
“It’s not recurring, minor-level events; it’s one large clearly thought out and organized event every year, or potentially every semester if we get that strong. For that [event], we have to get specific approvals,” Walawalkar said.
Not all clubs have to go through this rigorous extra approval process, however. First-year environmental studies major Zoey Lacey, who started the American Sign Language club, said that starting her club was surprisingly easy.
“It’s mostly just about deciding you’re going to do it, and then Student Involvement walked me through the steps of creating a constitution and filling out the appropriate forms,” Lacey wrote in an email interview.
The American Sign Language club has already had two meetings, which Lacey says between six and eight people have attended out of the 40 people on the email list. Though those numbers may seem low, she’s still encouraged.
“Considering they were the first meetings, and in the weeks leading up to finals, I’m pretty happy with it,” Lacey said.
Both Lacey and Walawalkar have words of advice for someone who wants to start their own club. Lacey advised starting by gauging interest.
“Talk to people and see if they’re interested and then reach out to Student Involvement,” Lacey said.
Walawalkar, on the other hand, emphasized careful planning.
“Have your mission very clear and be very prepared when you go into that room,” he said.