Student club count declining

Recent trends show that the number of VWC clubs have declined. At VWC, a club is defined as a group of five or more members registered through the Office of Student Activities with a faculty advisor and constitution.  

A student with any particular interest can start a club.  According to Director of Student Activities Kate Griffin, VWC has 49 clubs including fraternities, sororities, the Student Government Association, Wesleyan Activities Council and The Marlin Chronicle.  All clubs are registered each semester through Griffin.

“The figures for the number of clubs over the past few years have been up and down for the college…”

–Kate Griffin, Director of Student Activities  

Griffin has been the director of Student Activities for the past three years.  Her responsibilities include overseeing campus traditions, the Wesleyan Activities Council and fraternities and sororities. New this year is a requirement that  VWC’s clubs write a constitution.  

“In the past, a handful of clubs had a constitution, but the majority of clubs did not have one on file,” Griffin said.

“Most clubs wrote a constitution this year. A club’s constitution outlines a plan on how it will operate throughout the year and outlines responsibilities and ethical standards for its members and officers. It includes and defines the club’s purpose, nominations, terms and the election of officers.  It specifies meeting frequency, dues, finances, membership and how to make amendments.”

While writing a constitution may sound like a huge undertaking, Griffin cited resources that can aid clubs in the process.

“A club may choose to write its constitution on its own or the club can choose to use a constitution template.  A template can be found on the VWC website under Clubs and Organizations, subtitle Club Forms and Manuals,” Griffin said.

Despite the effort it takes to write a constitution, even using a template, Griffin made an argument for the necessity of constitutions.

“This new requirement has been a challenge for our clubs, but the constitution will make club operations much easier to address important expectations. Other colleges and universities have required a constitution for its clubs for a long time, and now VWC has made this important change,” Griffin said.

Griffin also emphasized the fact that constitutions are not set in stone.

“A constitution is a living document, which means a club’s officers can make changes to their policies at any time,” Griffin said.

Many students have pointed to the constitution requirement as the reason for declining figures. However, the number of clubs has been declining gradually over the past several semesters. This indicates the trend may not be fully attributable to the requirement of having a constitution.  

(Infographic: Ashlei Gates)
(Infographic: Ashlei Gates)

“The figures for the number of clubs over the past few years have been up and down for the college,” Griffin said. “In fall of 2015, 80 clubs were registered. In the spring of 2016, 60 clubs were registered.  VWC currently has 49 clubs registered through Student Activities this semester and registration remains open.  The college is predicting about 50 clubs for the upcoming spring semester.”

Funding is a privilege for VWC’s registered clubs. Griffin said that while being unregistered may influence a club’s ability to get funding, it does not influence the club’s ability to reserve spaces on campus or hold events.  If a club chooses not to register, it is not considered an active club.  

Sophomore Emily Testroet, founder and president of the Swing Dance Club, acknowledged that her club was not registered last year and did not have a constitution. While writing the constitution was time consuming and extra work, she is excited about it being a registered club this semester.

“We can request and receive funding for special events,” Testroet said.

In fact, Testroet has already taken advantage of campus funding as she scheduled a swing dance event on November 11 featuring a live band.

“Clubs are a great way to learn new skills, take a break from school work, and make new friends,” Testroet said.

Patrick Suttle