Story by Rob Andrilla
Whatcom Community College has clubs for a variety of different student interests and hobbies. Currently it is home to 33 clubs, each of which is headed by members of the student body and advised by faculty members.
From scholastic groups like Math Club where students can study an academic subject further to Bike Club where students band together to ride and enjoy Bellingham, the breadth of clubs at Whatcom is extensive.
Student clubs are “a place where you can explore your ideas,” Director for Student Life and Athletics Kris Baier said.
The size of each club varies greatly, as do their goals and concerns. Some are advocacy groups like the Ethnic Student Association or the Sustainability Club, which actively promote themselves and their cause. Others are purely recreational and serve as a way to meet new friends and make connections, like the International Sports Club.
Some politically-minded clubs have existed at Whatcom in the past.
“There was a group who were libertarians, called the ‘Young Americans for Liberty club,’” Baier said.
If a student is not interested in any of the pre-existing clubs, they can create a new one.
“It’s surprisingly easy as long as there is an interest,” Baier said.
The first step to founding an official club is submitting either a plan of action or a club constitution.
A plan of action is “a simple outline of the club goal, proposed activities and needed resources,” and a club constitution is a more official outline describing the officers and their duties as well as the club’s bylaws.
“Student Life is always interested in helping new ideas form,” said Baier.
After the club and its purpose have been defined, the second step is for club founders to locate at least eight students interested in participating to proceed. These can be potential club officers with major roles, or simply students who want to attend meetings and be involved.
The third part of creating a club at Whatcom is finding a club advisor. This is to ensure that once the founding student moves on from attending Whatcom for whatever reason, the club will still be available for future students to participate in.
“An advisor is key,” said Baier. “It’s the most important way to have continuity. If it wasn’t for advisors, clubs would disappear.”
Baier said that because of the involvement of advisors, “not very many clubs have gone defunct, which is a credit to students and staff. Having a faculty member that’s energized is an exciting part [of Whatcom’s clubs].”
Once an advisor has been selected from Whatcom’s faculty and staff, they must sign an Associated Students of Whatcom Community College (ASWCC) Advisor Agreement form.
If new club members are interested in receiving funding from the school, they must submit a budget request form and make a presentation to the ASWCC Student Council.
Some newer clubs at Whatcom include Synergy Club, where students meet to discuss gender identity and expression, the Whatcom Oration and Forensics League (WOFL), which is a speech and debate club, Engineering Club, and the Dream Team which advocates for immigrant rights in Bellingham.
Baier said some of the oldest clubs at Whatcom are the Campus Christian Fellowship, Communications Club, the Queer-Straight Alliance, and International Friendship Club.
Clubs can communicate their values and get the publicity needed to recruit new members during the Club Fair, which takes place at the beginning of every quarter in Syre Student Center. Fall quarter’s Club Fair will be on Oct. 2.
At the Club Fair, clubs create booths and share information about what they do and how they spend school-provided funds.
Each year, clubs are shown the resources available to them at the Club Summit, which Baier said is “a conduit for services provided for clubs, like the copy center, conference areas for events, and foods provided [for clubs and events].”
“More students are in clubs than any other program at Whatcom,” Baier said. He added that club participation at Whatcom provides an opportunity for students to meet people and develop leadership skills. “Extracurricular activities are a part of college life and clubs are a great way to do that.”
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