By Jubenal Aguilar
Clubs and organizations at Brookhaven College have gone through some big changes this semester, all designed by the office of student life to increase the success and membership of on-campus groups. Various offices will also expand the services and support provided to clubs. The OSL oversees the 24 clubs and organizations currently at Brookhaven. Students have the option to join organizations in areas of interest ranging from student government to cultural heritage clubs.
Basic requirements for starting a new club have not changed from previous years. However, new initiatives from OSL and policy changes in some offices will be implemented to make sure student organizations are more effective and successful.
For a new club to be created, at least eight currently enrolled students must be willing to be part of the club. The students must also find a staff or faculty member to serve as their sponsor.
Rebekah Benavides, OSL program coordinator, said a main focus of clubs and organizations is the need to be student driven. “It should be something that the students want,” she said.
Once organized, the group may go to OSL and speak to Benavides about becoming an official campus organization. Club members will be required to file forms for petition, for recognition and account justification. Additionally, the new club will be required to draft a club constitution that will detail the rules by which the organization will be governed.
The process can be done at any point in the academic year when a group of students organizes into a new club. Existing clubs are required to submit these three forms, too. Benavides said this process is a district requirement. All returning clubs must submit the forms to OSL by Oct. 10 to continue to be recognized as an active club.
A new component to clubs this year will be the Club Leadership Council, an open forum specifically for club leaders. Benavides said the main goal of the forum will be to educate student leaders on the resources available to the clubs. Leadership training, membership recruitment and retention strategies will also be discussed.
Fostering communication between clubs, as well as with OSL, will be another goal of the forum. Benavides said she wants “the clubs to get to a point where they work together and are comfortable [collaborating] with each other.” The council will allow student officers to share their ideas and plans for events as well as seek the aid of other clubs.
Furthermore, Benavides said communication with OSL will allow the office to better understand the needs of organizations and how they can meet them. Benavides said club attendance will be mandatory. “They’re only going to meet once a month,” she said. “This is the time for them to share information with each other, to bring forth ideas and to share what is going on with their organizations. so it really does help for them to have all the information.”
The first meeting of the council was held Sept. 24. Representatives from different offices discussed proper procedures for topics including campus and community involvement, fundraising and travel.
Marilyn Lynch, associate vice president of development at Brookhaven, said her office is working on a more organized strategic approach to obtaining community support from sponsors. She said the OSL will engage sponsors in an annual request to ask for resources rather than individual clubs seeking community support on their own. This will allow students to concentrate on higher priorities when planning events.
Carol Sakach, administrative assistant, and Dan Rhodes, assistant accountant, represent the business office. They explained the financial aspects of handling raised funds, reimbursements, traveling and professional entertainer and speaker services.
Another new requirement for all organizations will be the completion of community service hours. “It’s important for the clubs to give back to the campus and the community,” Benavides said. Club exposure is one reason for this new requirement, Benavides said. “There are some organizations that have been here for a long time, but a lot of people do not know … that they’re even here for the students.”
Each organization will be required to complete a minimum of 20 total hours of community service per semester. Hours will be counted by individual member participation and may be tallied using the NobleHour online tracking system.
This year, all clubs and organizations will have the opportunity to see their hard work recognized. Benavides said OSL will host the first Student Life Awards Ceremony in the spring semester. Clubs will have the opportunity to compete for awards. Some of the categories will include Outstanding New Club, Service Oriented Organization of the Year, Best Event and Advisor of the Year.
Students interested in joining a club or obtaining more information about creating a new one can visit the Office of Student Life. Club leaders and members can visit with the office for more detailed information. The Club Leadership Council will meet monthly at 12:30 p.m. on a Wednesday when the SGA does not meet.