Chris Napier speaks about his struggles at the New Era Caps Company factory that lead to his being fired at the Workers Rights are Human Rights rally held by UB Students Against Sweatshops in Founders Plaza on Wednesday. Image Contributor
It's a difficult task to walk through UB's campus and not notice the presence of its clubs and organizations.
Student Association (SA) clubs have become an outlet for students to express their uniqueness, whether it be cultural or through special interests. While it may seem that they are everywhere, becoming and remaining an SA club is an extremely intricate process.
Jeyandini Fernando, SA club programming director, and Victor Bulinski, SA Club services director, act as liaisons between the clubs and SA; they feel that many SA clubs strive to be involved, which is an important part of a club achieving permanent status.
"Our administration really encourages club involvement," Fernando said. "We throw lots of events for clubs to participate in. I don't think we've used the same club more than once."
According to Fernando, any group interested in becoming an SA club must first fill out a form with SA and decide what organization with which they'll be affiliated: academic, international, engineering, special interest service and hobbies (SISH), people of color (POC) or sports.
They must then write out a constitution, guidelines that they want their clubs follow and bring it back to be reviewed by their organizations program director for amending, rephrasing or rewriting. The constitution then goes to SA vice president Ashish Abraham for approval.
"He double-checks it to make sure all the by laws are in accordance with SA's constitution," Bulinski said.
If their constitution conforms to SA policies, the program director will grant them temporary club status, during which time, the club must substantiate its validity.
"They have to prove to us that they have what it takes to be a permanent club," Fernando said.
According to Fernando, clubs must follow certain guidelines: any student can be a member, there can be no membership charges and there can be no discrimination.
They must also make a presence on campus, following the 2-2-2-2 clause established by SA senate, which requires temporary clubs to participate in two community service events, two SA events, two fundraising events as well as host two of their own club events.
After about a year of existing as a temporary club, the club must then present their progress for SA Senate who will then decide on their permanent status.
Achieving permanent status is an extremely important milestone for an SA club. According to Fernando, about six clubs have achieved permanent status this semester.
UB Aces Tennis club is one of the clubs that has been recently instated.
"It's fun, I was so excited when our (temporary) mailbox moved to the (permanent mail box section)," said Alea Conte, president of UB Aces.
Conte, who left UB's varsity tennis team in order to form UB Aces, wanted to create a club for tennis enthusiasts of all skill levels.
"We wanted to network all tennis players on UB's campus because about one in four people on campus play tennis but none of their friends play," Conte said.
According to Conte, UB Aces began with her searching on Facebook.com for people who listed tennis and an interest and invited them to come play at the court in Ellicott complex.
While operating as a temporary club, UB Aces strived to ensure they were meeting their requirements with encouragement from their SISH program director.
"(Our program director) was pretty strict," Conte said. "SA requires two events; he made us have to do four."
According to Nick Baxter, UB Aces treasurer, their time as a temporary club has equipped them with the skills to sustain themselves as a permanent club.
"Club promotion is very important. We just formed a club promotion committee who (do things like) making display cases and giving out fliers," Baxter said. "We went to orientation to recruit freshmen. We highly recommend that for up and coming clubs."
Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is currently a temporary club that has been organized since fall 2006.
EWB's main focus has been working on their own to meet their goal of developing a water irrigation system for a community in Tanzania, which is the beginning of a plan to build schools in the area.
They feel that being affiliated with SA is helping them with their endeavors.
"Being able to say we're a UB club helps us when it comes to being taken seriously by professional engineers," said Shijo Zacharias, EWB vice president.
While the club has had difficulties in their beginning, having to differentiate themselves between Engineers for a Sustainable World, they have been able to utilize the contacts that they've made in order to make their project a reality.
"SA gives us the opportunity to meet people who have the passion for the same things as we do who can join us and bring their own talent," said Varun Chopra, EWB vice president of public relations.
There are many clubs who have proved their staying power with their presence on campus for over twenty years.
Black Student Union (BSU) is an SA Club that has been established since 1968 according to President William Donovan.
BSU is currently the largest club in SA and has been able to remain a major influence on campus through its ever-evolving missions.
According to Donovan BSU has developed from the radical club of the 60's protesting racism and other injustice to a club dedicated to bring students together through their cultural similarities.
"Now we have more cultural and educational events like Black Explosion and the Student Leadership Conference," Donovan said.
Donovan feels that while SA does offer the club support, it's important for clubs to be able to work on their own to sustain themselves.
"We do run into trouble financially and supportively, but I feel it's important to think of new ways to keep the club going," he said.
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