Image Credits: The University Star | Texas State
Everyone wants to start their own club on campus, especially when they feel like their niche interests aren’t being represented. Luckily, most colleges make it pretty easy for students to do just that, and a million clubs proliferate. Unfortunately, too many club leaders fail to think through some major questions before starting their club. Ultimately, they fail. Before you start your own club, whether it be to advance conservative ideas or gather a group of people who like hiking, ask yourself these five questions.
Is your club replicating an existing niche on campus?
You’re likely starting a club because you feel that the people who would partake in that club’s opportunities don’t have an existing outlet on campus. Be sure to do your research and make sure that is the case first. It is a lot easier to reform a defunct low-functioning club than go through the process of starting a new club. Could you instead incorporate your ideal activities into the work that the existing conservative club is already doing? Having a niche group for every aspect of conservatism – lower taxes, free speech, pro-life, etc – might not be effective on a small campus or a campus with a small conservative population. Don’t start a club just because you like the parent organization or you want to add another line to your resume. If the club is not going to flourish on your campus or will die out after you graduate, it might be right to look at other options.
Will you be an original club or a chapter of a larger organization?
Are you going to be a chapter of YAF, YAL, College Republicans, NRA, or the Beta Club or are you going to be an original group with an original mission and no oversight or advice from a larger organization? Obviously, it is much easier to become a satellite of a larger, already established organization. However, you may find established organizations confine to what actions you can achieve through these clubs, come up against people’s preconceived notions, and have to deal with issues resulting from 501©3 and ©4 tax laws. If you do decide to start an original club that exists solely on your campus for your students, you’ll have to come up with an original title, brand marketing images, a Constitution and by-laws, etc. It is a very rewarding task to create an original group, but it is a lot of work at the beginning. Likely, there is an administrator or group on your campus that can help you with this process. It will make it less overwhelming.
Who will join your club?
A club of you and your friend isn’t a club. If you’re going to start a new student organization, you need to be sure that people will join it. Send out some feelers about interest in your club before officially getting things rolling. Administrators will also be much more willing to help your club come into existence and flourish if there is a demonstrated interest in your group. Sending out a simple interest form for emails and showing your school that there are X amount of people interested in this club existing can go a long way.
Who will lead your club going forward?
You may be the driving force behind the creation of your new student organization, but you have to graduate eventually. Do you have a plan for who will take over after you? Is there someone else involved with the club passionate as you? It’s sad to watch something you began fail. If a club is going to fail, it will be within the first five years of its origin, likely because there was not a smooth transition of power that kept the enthusiasm going. This is also why it is important to have people of various years represented in your club and in its leadership. If all the leaders are seniors and graduate, it will be hard for the next year’s leadership team to form.