BHC clubs create community

By Marvin Montesinos

Staff Writer

Infographic by Tom Gill
Infographic by Tom Gill

Many students come to Brookhaven College with the sole intent of getting what they need to transfer to a four-year university. Students may arrive, go from class to class and leave without becoming a part of the school community. Some students who share a particular interest, however, may want to share it with the student body.

Twenty-eight clubs are currently listed in the S Building’s Office of Student Life for the 2014-2015 school year. Included are archery, gaming, volunteering and most sports.

The first stop for any student wanting to start a new club is the S Building’s Office of Student Life (OSL), located upstairs in S building above the financial aid office. There, students can find several copies of the Brookhaven Student Handbook, which offers information on the subject.

In the OSL, students can meet with Rebekah Benavides, the club program coordinator, who said she is privileged to work with student clubs.

In an email, Benavides said she sits down with students and tries to get an understanding of their vision for the club, “why they want to start one, reasonable expectations and goals, and how they think it will appeal to the student body and get people involved on campus.” Once that is discussed, students are given a student organization startup packet, which includes a Petition for Recognition, an Account Justification Form and a sample club constitution.

The Petition for Recognition requires the signatures and I.D. numbers from eight to 10 students who agree a club for a specific purpose should be formed. The petition also asks for the purpose and objective of the club, as well as the membership requirements or dues, officers selected and staff or faculty sponsor information.

The Account Justification Form allows the club to set up an account for club funds through the school district. “One of the perks to being an organization on the campus is that they can have an on-campus account, and they have the ability to fundraise,” Benavides said. The form also details the individuals authorized to access the account, normally limited to select officers and the club adviser.

The third piece of paperwork necessary is the club constitution. The packet contains a template, and students have the ability to draft their constitution to meet the requirements and expectations they have for the club.

Once all of the paperwork is submitted, it is sent up the chain of command, with a copy of each document kept on file. The petition is then subject to approval from the director of Student Life and vice president of Student Success. Once the club is approved, students may operate their organization as a recognized Brookhaven club. The club is approved for the academic year, and as long as they submit the paperwork again for the following year, the club can continue to operate.

Since the Fall 2014 semester, policies have been put into place that have changed the way clubs operate. Among the most prominent changes is a 40-hour mandatory community service requirement for every club each academic year. The new club requirements also call for attendance from at least one club officer at the Club Leadership Council, which works to establish leadership skills among club leaders as well as address any concerns that may impact multiple clubs.

Andrew Deibert, the service learning and civic engagement coordinator in the OSL as well as the sponsor for the service-based Rotoract Club on campus, said he is in favor of seeing organizations perform more community service but at the same time understands how smaller clubs would have difficulty being able to complete the service hours. “I don’t know if it’s really impacted the number of hours that we’ve done,” Deibert said. “I think it comes down to student leadership.”

Recent policies have done little to deter newer clubs as shown by Ricardo Ruiz, president of Gamers Unite. After the original president left the club last semester, Ruiz took charge of the already-formed club and said the new policies have not affected them. “It’s kind of like a ‘free-way’ club,” he said. “We just meet.” Ruiz said he remains hopeful for the club and its future. The club meets on Tuesdays in the Treetop Café.

Student clubs on campus offer opportunities for students to connect with one another over a shared interest. With help from the OSL, faculty and staff, many resources are available to students wanting to share their hobbies with the student body. The Office of Student Life is located in Room S201. Students can contact the office via email at [email protected] or by phone at 972-860-4115.