Dr. Alison Simons really wanted a club on campus that took on social justice issues.
Naturally, she brought up this idea to her students.
“It started from my interest but it couldn’t have got going unless we had students that really wanted to help,” said Simons, an assistant professor of sociology who is one of two faculty advisors of the Social Justice League. “Especially sociology students because a lot of us do non-profit community service-type things.
“It was only logical to start it within us and try to help in our community. We are in a community that is disadvantaged and has vulnerable populations so the more we can do to help the better.”
Simons had her idea and her students but as for the process of actually starting up the club, she had no idea.
“It was difficult to try and get it started,” Simons said. “I didn’t know the procedures that we had to go through so I literally gave that to Laura and the students to go through the process. David Monge was so helpful with it and he really has helped us immensely with getting it up, getting all the constitutions and getting everything done.”
Monge, who became the Coordinator for Student Organizations and Greek Life a little over a year ago, simplified the process of creating an on-campus club, including providing templates for writing club constitutions and people to help organize a fledgling club.
This has been very helpful in creating more clubs on campus, according to Simons and other club organizers. And this has led to an increase in student club activity.
Monge said around 10 campus clubs started in the past year, including Love Your Melon, which focuses on helping with pediatric cancer; and a new fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. There are 34 clubs on campus, according to the Student Life page at txwes.edu.
“I think it’s (the process of creating a club at Wesleyan is) a lot easier especially compared to any other institution,” Monge said. “You just need five people, a document explaining the rules of your organization, and a faculty or staff advisor.”
Not only have clubs sprung up on campus, but some older clubs have seen a spike in activity. Monge believes that this is due to the resources for clubs becoming more visible with his simplification process.
“When I started a little over a year ago one of the first things I did was try to simplify these processes as much as possible so you’re not having to jump through all this red tape to do simple things,” Monge said. “Like if you want a room you have to reserve a space for example. That’s a lot of information you need to know in order to do this one simple thing. So I was like, OK, I can do all of that if they submit their proposal to me. I will take care of whatever else.”
When rebranding the Philosopher’s Lounge into Nerd Central last year, former Wesleyan student sophomore education major and Nerd Central president Jacob Chesney found Monge to a key asset in the process.
“I talked almost every single time with him whenever I did anything,” said Chesney, an education major who is returning to Wesleyan in the fall of 2017. “Whether that was changing information on the school website, being involved in an event on campus, or having this room for us to meet in, all of that I have talked to David Monge about. He’s super helpful.”
Chesney found that the level of difficulty when rebranding a club depends on what you’re changing about the club.
“If you’re rebranding the club because you want the general idea to change the mission statement then it can be really hard,” Chesney said. “That requires a lot of self-evaluation and sometimes that means you lose a lot of people or you just dissolve the organization and then make a new one instead of rebranding.”
In Chesney’s case, the fix was more simple than that.
“Sometimes it’s something like with us where we had our mission statement and we knew what we wanted to do but there was something missing,” Chesney said. “We found those couple of missing links and that was like the name and our constitution – our constitution was very shabby. We got those two things fixed and we were ready for business.”
When rebranding a club or just making a club in general, Chesney says the most important thing is to know your goals for the club and to talk to people about them.
“If it’s at this university talking to student engagement, talking to administration, talking to professors, and just talking to people about what you want to do and getting ideas for how you can reach your goal, that’s always the best thing,” Chesney said. “I’ve had a lot of people that work here help me get Nerd Central to where it needs to be. Either they were making phone calls for me, giving me ideas, or they were just getting rooms for me or whatever.”
Dr. Eddy Lynton, the advisor for the Black Student Association, also agrees that it’s important to have a good support system. He believes that combined with a group of students running the club are key factors in keeping a club active.
“I think the current membership has done an amazing job attracting people into the group and welcoming all groups and individuals into it by trying to create a fun environment,” Lynton said.
According to Lynton, the Black Student Association has always been active but as of the last semester, it has been extremely active.
“Right now it’s hosting one of the groups responsible for the human trafficking awareness event,” Lynton said. “Last semester it did the police and community event. It’s trying to bridge students and the community and it’s trying to educate them about being a part of the community.”
Another element that helps clubs thrive on campus is the professors. According to Lynton, professors are usually pretty motivated to help if students can find their passions and show commitment.
“Faculty here are really pro student and I like that a lot,” said Lynton.
Lynton believes the willingness of the professors to get involved along with the simplifying of the processes in Student Life has helped the clubs on campus reach great heights.
“I’m impressed by the number of clubs that are on campus,” Lynton said. “For the number of clubs on campus for a school this size we have pretty much something for everybody.”
If you want to start a club on campus, go to the Student Life page at txwes.edu or visit the Student Engagement office, room 137 in the Brown-Lupton Campus Center.