Why can't Newman's clubs find members?

By: Alexis Stallard, Editor-In-Chief

Flashback to two years ago, and you’d find Newman in a vastly different state. Yes, COVID was still making things a mess, but what really stood out was the number of students involved in clubs and activities on campus.

This year, though, several clubs and groups on campus find themselves with dwindling numbers and few students interested in joining. For example, the Campus Activities Board used to have more than 10 students involved who would organize various student events around campus. All this year, four students have been juggling the duties and have had to cut several popular events, such as the lip sync battle that usually happens in February.

Interim Dean of Students Andi Giesen said she believes the lack of involvement is just another after-effect of COVID.

“It is like so many other things post-COVID where participation, enrollment, and even employment positions are not flooded with the number of candidates that they’re used to,” Giesen said.

She said the only thing her department can do at the moment is to keep encouraging students to join different organizations on campus and expand their horizons. She also said that club leaders should focus on creating personal connections with students to bring their numbers back up.

“There’s going to be somebody you connect with that shares the same values that you do,” Giesen said. “You’re likely going to find those people in clubs and activities that we offer.”

Maureen Rohleder, one of the faculty advisers for Newman’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, said that the goal of her club is to offer a non-judgemental space for student athletes to share their faith. She said the club has been struggling to find a student willing to take on a leadership role, which she thinks may have led to the club’s lower numbers. As of right now, FCA has fewer than 10 members, despite flourishing in years past.

“I think the main thing is getting a student leader that is very excited about getting involved,” Rohleder said.

Some clubs may also be suffering simply because students don’t fully understand the purpose of the group. Senior Mai Dao, chair of the Campus Activities Board, said that’s the only reason she can come up with for her group’s lack of student interest. The club is responsible for putting together several large events throughout the year, such as dances, but Dao said that having only four members has severely limited what they’re able to do.

“I think students don't realize that Campus Activities Board is separated from Student Affairs in terms of who is involved,” Dao said. “Those in student affairs are staff while Campus Activities Board are students.”

Dao said CAB has struggled all year to put on events that require a lot of work because they’ve lacked the necessary numbers. She said that she has been working all year with the other three members to prepare them for next year since she graduates in May. CAB plans to hold regular meetings with students to get their feedback on past events or ideas for future events. While all executive positions have been filled, Dao said they are looking for general members.

Giesen said membership decline also can be seen in the Student Government Association. Many of the members have been speaking in recent meetings about the desire for more students to participate so that they can have more diversity and input when making decisions that affect the student body. President Ian Lecki asked all members to step up their involvement during their meeting on April 3, saying that several members had failed to take care of their various responsibilities.

In the past, when elections were held at the end of the spring semester for the next year, campaigns were highly competitive. During the 2020-2021 school year, there were at least three students campaigning for president. Last year, only one student ran for president, and it is likely that only one student will run for president again this year. As for senator positions, in recent years, any student who has filled out an intent to run form has been guaranteed a position.

“They would like to see the greater numbers because there would be the more diverse thinking, there would be that greater input, but also it’s a shared responsibility,” Giesen said. “It doesn’t just rest on a few shoulders.”

PHOTO: Courtesy photo, University Relations