Quality Over Quantity: What Every Student Should Consider Before Starting a Club at St. Lawrence | St. Lawrence University

Quality Over Quantity: What Every Student Should Consider Before Starting a Club at St. Lawrence

Poonam Sidhu
2018

Otium- Latin for leisure or free time. Something that most of us college students crave whenever we are being engulfed by homework, school and just stress, in general. Not all students engage in the same activities during their leisure time. For example, some like to paint when they’re free. Some like to watch sitcoms or movies. Some like to eat. Some even like to hike.

Others, such as, me, like to write and revel in how St. Lawrence would benefit from actually having a club about writing on its campus. Yes, I am a member of that peculiar species that still thinks about school on a Saturday morning, while she is dismembering a hot pizza with one hand and comforting a friend with a ginger ale in the other.  

I always felt that St. Lawrence needed a writing club. Ok, that’s cool...But, out of all clubs, why a writing one? Well, that’s simple. To me, writing is an escape from reality. It’s like an outlet that allows students to pour out all of their complex, fuzzy feelings about anything and everything onto paper. I wanted to create a club that would allow students to explore this outlet. But, I wasn’t the only one who made this dream into a living reality.

Caroline Metzger’ 18, also played a role in founding the club. So, did our club advisor, Sarah Barber, associate professor of english. After Caroline and I gathered the names of the people interested in forming the club, it was Sarah, who helped officially legitimize our presence on campus after guiding us on how to complete the Club/Organization registration form online.

By the fall of 2015, our club was officially launched. Initially, our plan for the club was to have members participate in events, such as, National Novel Writing month (but, this was a bit ambitious because not all students are fans of writing novels, especially when pressured to write one in just a month). We also wanted members to participate in Poetry Month and sprinkle little poems across different buildings on campus so other students would gain exposure to poetry. But, even that was a bit too ambitious.

A bulk of the problem resided in interest. Throughout the last two years, many people would come and go to our meetings. This generated a lot of inconsistency. If we had enough people show up to our meetings every week and demonstrate a shared interest, then we’d have the opportunity to engage in bigger projects, like the ones listed above. But, we didn’t. Fortunately, the truth is, that most clubs if, not every, struggle with such problems.

This whole-struggling-to-have-people-stay-in-your-club trend is very common. At the club fair, you’ll get over forty plus people to sign-up for your club and the day you finally hold a meeting, a good number of people will show up. But, as the semester progresses, the number of faces that show up will begin to diminish. You’ll be like, what the hell, where did everyone go? By midsemester break. It’ll just hit you one day, out of nowhere. But, have no fear.

Every club founder will go through an existentialist crisis at some point in their SLU career and wonder if the club is even worth the pursuit anymore. When this happens to you, take a deep breath. Pause. Release.

When we noticed that a lot of members were leaving the club, Caroline and I decided to change the aim of the club. Instead of concentrating on large events, we focused on creating an environment that was more accessible to different people. In other words, our meetings became more centered on doing fun writing exercises and occasionally watching episodes of shows that were less time-consuming and intimidating than the other events we’d originally planned for students. Our new goal became to foster close friendships, where quantity wasn’t the main priority anymore, but quality.

Soon enough, a small band of loyal followers began showing up to our meetings every week. A small, serious band that actually cared about continuing the club in the future and got genuine enjoyment out of the little prompts we did every week.

From this experience, I learned that it doesn't matter how popular my club is at the end of the day. I should be more concerned with ensuring that the few who do come to weekly meetings are satisfied with where the club is going and getting what they want out of it. I also learned that I should be proud of the work that I've done because I could have easily given up and disbanded the club at any point. But, I chose to keep persevering and persevering isn't easy.

So, If you’re looking to start a club on campus, don’t be overly concerned with the amount of people that shows up to your meetings. Would you rather forty random people show up to your meetings every week or five people whom you know and are acquainted with really well?

Also, just because you should prioritize quality over quantity, doesn’t mean that you should quit advertising. Don’t forget that even though quantity may be secondary, you should still be informing people about your club. You should do this, unless you’re happy with how many people are currently showing up to your meetings, of course.

St. Lawrence is home to a great amount of different club organizations on campus. Some of these organizations come and go with time, leaving a transitory mark in their wake. Others survive decades and hold a seemingly immortal presence on campus. With all the members who will come and go with time, there will always be those who will remain steadfast and loyal. Those are the people that count. So, when you arrive and think about starting your own club on campus, remember that it’s quality, and not quantity, that should count.