Student club engagement fluctuates


Kamila Vargas-Gonzalez

Creative Writing Club members Jose Salas (left), Tindall Brown, Hermela Lambero, Roselyn Pineda, Parivash Tavakoli Farsani, adviser Aaron Clark and Jenna Nensy meet in S Building on Feb. 8.

Kamila Vargas-Gonzalez, Contributing Writer

As classes end for the day, some students rush to the parking lot ready to leave campus, while others linger, waiting to meet with a student club that caters to their interests.

As of Spring 2023, 16 student clubs and organizations at Brookhaven Campus are currently listed on the Dallas College website. Clubs range from art to criminal justice/pre-law to men’s soccer.

While participation continues to increase and new interest groups are created, there was a period in which clubs and organizations experienced a decline in engagement.

Dallas College campuses re-opened for face-to-face classes in June 2021. Since then, the campuses have slowly returned to normal. Chris Schlarb, a Student Life coordinator at Brookhaven Campus, said, “During the pandemic, we saw a huge decrease in student involvement when it came to us doing events online and having our clubs do meetings online.”

Before 2020, Brookhaven had around 32 student clubs, twice the number the campus has now. Schlarb said: “Since students were forced to take online classes during that time, I think some of them have just not transitioned back to in-person classes. [Students] don’t really step foot on campus, so it’s hard to get them to come to events.”

Bulletin boards found in each building contain advertising for Club Expos, events where students can get involved by joining a club, and colorful flyers containing club information and their meet-up times. Efforts to bring in more student engagement are clear.

Emilie Turner, an Office of Student Life and engagement coordinator at Brookhaven, said she wants more students to know there is a physical space where they can engage in activities. Turner said: “We want to help students, and we’re perfectly willing to try to connect them to other departments, not just specifically Student Life related stuff. The Hub is good for us to connect students to other services on campus.”

The Hub is located on the second floor of S Building, above the Business Office. Occasionally, students can be seen lounging, studying or playing table games with friends. In The Hub, students can also find Schlarb and Turner in their offices.

Staff and faculty are also willing to help students by sponsoring clubs and organizations. Iris Duarte-Bazaldua, a biology professor and coordinator of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, or SACNAS, said in her experience as a first-generation college student she felt out of place, but joining clubs helped her adjust.

“I wouldn’t have made it out there without joining clubs and meeting people with the same goals as me,” Duarte-Bazaldua said. “I wanted to provide that for students here. I feel like [student clubs] connect you with like-minded students, and it helps you become a better student.” Students at Brookhaven Campus, such as Roselyn Pineda, are committed to putting themselves out there by joining clubs and organizations. Pineda is the vice president of SACNAS and a Book Club member. “I hope Student Life staff continues their friendly service and help students develop their own clubs that pertain to their interests,” Pineda said.