By: Sherry Bithell
Admittedly, the phrase “something for everyone” sounds trite. But when you glance at the full list of Stevenson’s diverse array of student clubs, it’s easy to see that every SU student should be able to find at least one fit—if not more.
“In addition to doing well academically, I think there are two things every student should do in college: study abroad and get involved,” says Daniel Schwartz, Assistant Director of Student Activities. “If you like a club, stay in it. If you don’t like it, try something else.”
A specific example comes from Maumi Cannell-Chatterton, Assistant to the VP for Student Affairs and staff mentor to the Anime Club. “One of the benefits is that the club seems to attract introverts. These students aren’t always the social butterflies, but through this club, they find like-minded people and forge real friendships.”
Cannell-Chatterton, who also serves as staff mentor to Best Buddies and the International Student Association (ISA), says that all the clubs create common ground among students. “Sometimes you think you’re the only one interested in something, then you find that you have a shared experience with others.” Citing students in the ISA, she says, “They come from around the country and the world, and here they have a place to learn more about other cultures, talk about their food and family.
“It’s what college should be: learning something outside of what you already know.”
This principle also applies to club faculty and staff advisors, says Morgan Somerville, Director of Student Engagement and advisor for Mission: I’m Home and the Muslim Student Association.
“One of the reasons I love working at Stevenson is that I am able to learn and grow alongside our students,” she says. “This past year, the president of the Muslim Student Association approached me about being the advisor for their club. Since then, I have learned a tremendous amount about the Islamic faith and the Muslim culture. I appreciate these amazing students sharing their culture with me and trusting me to help support their club.”
Diane Payne, Ph.D., Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research and Instructor of Chemistry, is the faculty advisor for the American Chemical Society Club. Here, students gain experience in areas that you might expect—and others that you might not. “They learn to present their knowledge to others and gain leadership skills from serving as an officer or leading a meeting,” Payne says. “But they also take part in outreach events, attending Scholars Day and Accepted Students Day, and many of them mentor freshmen chemistry majors. And they enjoy the camaraderie of working with other clubs on University-wide events throughout the year.”
The group’s diversity is an added bonus, she notes. “They all get along well and have learned to look for each other’s strengths, not their shortcomings or differences.”
One club that emphasizes inclusion and student support is The Q Group, which allows students to learn about and promote LGBTQ issues and identities. Faculty advisor Laura T. Smith, Ph.D., Chair and Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, says that in addition to events such as Queer Talent Night and Drag-u-Cation, the club also holds weekly meetings and Safe Space forums that feature games, movies, and discussions of personal experiences and current events related to LGBTQ life. “It’s a great space for all students to learn about gender and sexual identities and to find information and support,” she enthuses.
Schwartz, who is the primary staff support for the clubs, says that Student Affairs recognized the importance of diversity and inclusion by adding it as an event category; the others are social, educational, collaborative, community service, and career focus.
Last year alone, he says, the clubs held 260 events and performed nearly 3,000 service hours. “It’s not just balloons and bingo. They’re learning career and life skills.”
In his experience—both at Stevenson and in a similar role at Stony Brook University in New York—membership in student clubs contributes to student satisfaction and retention as well as students being more likely to stay involved with the University after graduation. “Of equal importance, membership also contributes to the University’s liberal arts focus by encouraging students to experience something different,” he adds.
As Cannell-Chatterton says simply, “Everyone belongs at Stevenson. This helps them find their place.” Take another look at the list; where is yours?
For more information about Student Life including clubs and organizations on campus, visit SUTV for a robust selection of videos.