The fall quarter arrives again with the necessity of students renewing club charters once again. Each year, many clubs fail to return for a number of reasons, the primary reason being a lack of sustainability.
Due to the nature of Clark College being primarily a two-year community college, clubs don’t have the time to build a sustainable member base before a majority of the students in the club leave the campus. In order for a club to succeed each generation of new students, they must adapt in new ways.
Student Life Program Coordinator Darci Feider said if a club’s purpose, leadership, and dedication are solidified, they are well on their way to being sustainable.
Clubs are chartered to deliver a new experience to Clark students. This can range from enhancing a student’s abilities to giving them a safe space to unwind from classes. A club’s purpose can help to attract students from very niche areas from the college. “We used to have a really strong club named Diesel Dogs through the diesel program,” Feider said. “I think that those areas, welding and diesel, those areas don’t have a lot of students that want to fill a club”.
The most effective leadership structure for a club is dependent entirely on the club’s purpose and activities. If a club frequently makes decisions regarding operations; such as where to allocate funding, how to organize events, or creating advertisements, then it could be beneficial to elect officers to make decisions, rather than leaving it up to the entirety of the club. However, if a club is unified in their ideas and actions, a system where all members voted with equal power would suffice to keep the club running. The key is making sure that the rules for how the club operates are written down and passed on from year to year.
Dedicated members are what truly drive a club towards success. Members are the ones who assist in organizing events, searching for new members and taking some of the load of the paperwork from over-encumbered leaders. Unfortunately, there is no way to directly recruit truly dedicated members, you just have to recruit as much as possible. Feider said clubs using word-of-mouth promotion is key, but clubs can also boost promotion through the quarterly Student Involvement Fair.
Running a club at Clark is an experimental and ever-evolving process. The best advice is to look for opportunity, and seize it before you lose this chance. The worst case scenario is that you learn.