Before he graduated in December, Drew Spooner co-founded seven student organizations at North Dakota State.
The marketing graduate said starting clubs is simple, though turnover can be tough.
“Nothing to it,” Spooner said of starting student organizations. “And joining clubs is even easier.”
When many student organizations are looking to next year amid member turnover at the semester’s end, many clubs can be in a bind to stay afloat.
Recruiting or remission
Katie Martinez is a pistol shooter with NDSU’s Marksmanship Club.
With 10 active pistol shooters and eight active rifle shooters, Martinez said their club was strong this year, particularly with a sweep of wins at the NRA’s national collegiate championships this spring. Member Alana Townsend’s win in free pistol, among others, made her the first woman to win since the match’s 1981 establishment.
Despite the high stakes competition against Ohio State’s athletic team and even military schools, the Marksmanship Club needs to recruit heavily for next year to keep up, Martinez said.
“I guess we just had a really solid foundation to begin with and now this year we are fearful for losing all those members, but I think there is a positive outlook,” she said.
Martinez was one of several club members recruited four years ago from states like Montana, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Now with four years of participation maxed out, these members can’t compete anymore.
Club president Grant Johnson will recruit among first-year students in 2016-17, Martinez said, with one incoming South Dakotan set to join.
The club would like to maintain four men and four women on the team as gendered matches are a big part of competitions.
“We’re making sure we’re looking for students that want to and are willing to put in time,” Martinez said, adding the first part of a semester can be “kind of scary” with “a lot of students coming in who have never touched a firearm before.”
If the club doesn’t clinch its desired membership for 2016-17, the shortfall would limit travel and participation at top matches like in Colorado and Georgia.
“(The club) might just go into remission,” Martinez said.
For any club, Spooner said never turning anyone away is key for keeping afloat.
“Personally invite people and encourage others to take leadership positions before you graduate,” he said, “and don’t be concerned about numbers.”
He added the example of the NDSU Sandy’s Donut Club, which had few people attending for “for the longest time.”
“We just focused on the mission of the club and ensured each event was meaningful for those there,” Spooner said.
From there, word spread and the club grew.
So did the NDSU Roadtrippers Club, which Spooner also co-founded. The “handful of members” racked up over 35,000 miles in one semester, Spooner said. The club recently partnered with Jumpr, a ride sharing service.
Beginning to end
All a club needs to start is six members, three of which are president, VP and treasurer, as well as a faculty adviser, Mikayla Young, 2015-16 executive commissioner of the congress of student organizations, said.
From there, enrollment in a Blackboard portal keeps communication open with the CSO commission, Young said. A club will have temporary status for 16 weeks. Then the CSO commission will determine if it can go full-time.
As for recruiting members, Young said clubs have help available.
All clubs have access to the Listserv. Student government’s public relations team is available for tips to expand organizations, Young said, and the student activities office’s mailboxes are fair game too. Some clubs even hit up residence halls for incoming students.
As of last month, 5,687 students were involved in an at least one of NDSU’s 330 student organizations, Young said.
“It’s good to see that students are getting involved in organizations,” she said, adding the Blackboard enrollment number never goes down.
If a club finds itself slipping, it can land in probationary status. Members must meet with the CSO commission to go over expectations and length of probation.
The CSO commission can “deactivate a club if they don’t meet those expectations,” Young said.
The most common clubs to be deactivated are ambassador groups, as their colleges are usually able to support them, Young said. Otherwise, two to five clubs have been deactivated this year with two of those groups “ready to get back on their feet.”
Currently, Saddle & Sirloin is NDSU’s largest student organization, with over 400 members, Young said.
The Unicycle & Juggling Club has the lowest membership, “around 10,” she added.