featured photo by Matt Reynolds/JSU
Brittany Robertson, Staff Writer
Entering freshman year at college comes with a lot of options. Be the stereotypical lazy college student whose idea of a good night is an extra-large cheese pizza, copious amounts of beer and video games, or the over achiever whose only interest is to finish that research paper that is due in two weeks. So, what is a happy middle? Joining a on campus organization. But how far is too far?
All the Choices
Jacksonville State University is home to over 100 on campus clubs, organizations and religious groups for students to join. At the beginning of each school year, the Student Government Association holds an event called Get On Board Day, which showcases a majority of the groups on campus as a way to encourage students to get involved on campus. However, for some, one group is not enough.
“Originally, I wasn’t going to join anything,” junior Patrick Yim said, “but I found one that I enjoyed and started joining more and more until I got where I am now.”
Yim is a communication major, so being involved in multiple organizations makes sense for his major. Yim is currently a member of eleven organizations including, and in the spring of 2017 was the President of Students for Equality, the President of Zeta Phi Eta and the Vice President of the Student Alumni Association.
Another student, senior Psychology major Paris Coleman, is also a member of multiple organizations. Coleman has placed himself in eight organizations, four of which are a part of the Greek order: Alpha Kappa Psi, Sigma Alpha Pi, Psi Chi and Kappa Alpha Psi.
“I joined so many because I enjoy being able to have a direct, positive influence on people,” Coleman said, “and what better way to do so than to place myself in the correct positions to do so?”
Corin Manning, a sophomore double major in political science and geography, channeled her enthusiasm into the nine organizations she joined, including Delta Zeta, the Student Senate, where she served as Publicity Committee Head, the Honors Program and the Student Activities Council.
“Honestly, I like being involved and meeting new people,” Manning said. “Being in organizations as résumé builders is the least of my concerns. Personally, I like to see active involvement, students feeling at home and giving equal opportunity to everyone to join something on campus. My goal for anything I do is to improve and keep the organization moving upward. I love this campus and the people who go here and being in several organizations helps me meet new people constantly.”
Balancing Studies and Activities
But with being involved comes the added stress of being active without letting grades and GPA plummet. So, how does one keep the balance?
“During registration, I normally plan my schedule around the times that my organization would have events, so I can participate in them,” Coleman said. “I also don’t try to go over 17 hours, because involvement in all of my organizations is like a course load in itself. I try to make sure my studies come first, but I have such a passion for people that I often do the exact opposite. But for me to dedicate so much to other people, I have time to look at my studies and complete what is necessary.”
Active members of clubs could spend up to eleven hours a week at basic meetings. That does not include the bake sale that goes on during an English class or the 5k that is being held the morning before a huge exam. So being a part of a club and actively doing something requires a lot of effort, timing and scheduling, but that does not mean it is impossible.
“Granted, I do not attend every activity by every organization, but that does not make me a bad member,” Manning said. “I attend the majority of the events we host, but if I cannot attend…they understand what is going on with my coursework and are fine with me missing the activity. Normally, I will do my work during my breaks or when I have down time at work. Any free time I have is dedicated to my classes or the organizations that I am in charge of. What I do that helps is treat the organizations like homework and say they are assignments to be completed like filing paperwork or doing new things.
In addition to the time demands, there is also the issue of money. A majority of on-campus organizations have a fee that incoming members pay each year or semester. Fees are what usually scare off potential members; however, some groups do not require such fees, such as the Writers’ Club or the Student Government Association.
“On the financial aspect, I was conscience of the group I joined,” Yim said. “I almost refused to do anything social because it literally is costing you money to be a part of it. While it is good for some, it is not for me. I prefer academic groups because it is more about your skills and strengths as opposed to your social standing.”
Fighting the Stigma
At Get On Board Day, incoming freshmen are able to shop around for clubs and groups that they may find enjoyable. However, most are intimidated by the stigma that if they join more than two groups they will be seen as just adding things to build their résumés. While for some that may be true, Manning disagrees.
“I do not really think there is a stigma other than the fact with being in multiple I have more connections than maybe someone who is in two organizations or one,” Manning said. “However, for incoming freshmen, I would not do it until you get used to being in one or two, so you can get used to the workload of your classes and try to find who you are. People change majors a lot or find they are too swamped from classes to participate, so I suggest to join one or two and gradually add organizations as you wish to start getting to what you like specifically.”
It is also worth noting that just by being a student at the university, incoming freshmen are already a part of the Student Government Association. Certain departments have their own groups as well, such as the Earth Club for Earth science majors, business fraternities for Business majors, Alpha Psi Omega for theatre majors and minors and many more. So even if freshmen do not know which group to join, they have the option of being involved in something pertaining to their major.
Coleman and Yim, however, feel that there is a stigma but have decided to ignore it and break through it.
“There is a stigma to being part of so many, even close friends have told me that they feel like I don’t need anymore résumé boosters,” Coleman said. “But they don’t see my intrinsic motivation. Yes, those extra lines are a small perk to what I do, but that’s not why I do it. I do it because if I don’t, I don’t know if anyone else will. I am more than capable, I am more than willing, I am more. People often mistake my actions for giving up my time, when I am really just gaining more time and experience for the future.”
To incoming freshmen and upperclassman students alike, let it be known that there is so much more to being in multiple organizations than just résumé building.
“I think being in multiple organizations helps me personally,” Manning said. “I am a very outgoing person and I mean that. I love to surround myself with people and do things. Aside from making friendships, I make connections with people that I could be able to access for help with certain courses and other organizations to make joint events.”