In the fall of 2019 there were 41 recognized clubs on campus. In spring semester 2020, 26. This semester, just 17 clubs. Some of the decline can be attributed to the COVID-19 switch to online classes, but not all. Many of the older clubs are no longer recognized clubs, such as Christ in Action, Queer-Straight Alliance and Black Student Union.
Some clubs are affected by the switch to online classes because the clubs’ activities are not readily adjustable to online. Other clubs do not want to change to online meetings, which accounts for some of the decline this semester. Another likely reason is the amount of paperwork a club must complete before it becomes active.
In order for a club to be recognized, a club must submit an application to the Inter-Club Council (ICC). Application requirements are having an advisor, at least six members and a minimum of three officers, consisting of president, vice president and treasurer. An ICC rep must be designated but can be one of the other officers. A club is also required to have a constitution.
Once recognized by the ICC, the club is funded $500. The ICC representative must attend the ICC meetings. Missing more than two meetings a semester can be cause for decertifying a club.
A large factor that negatively affects clubs is the administrative burden put on clubs. To apply as a club, two forms are required with signatures of club officers and advisers. When clubs met in person, it was relatively easy to get all the information and signatures. Now that everything is online, many emails and texts are necessary to get all the information and electronic signatures.
Clubs are also required to write minutes of meetings. Once the club has authorized spending, the funds the club has some choices to purchase items. A club member or adviser can make a purchase using their money and get reimbursed later. This, of course, requires another form, copies of the minutes and receipts. It can take two months to get the funds reimbursed. Camera Club spent over $500 for frames, and it took over two months to get reimbursed. Many students cannot float $500 for two months.
The college does have an Amazon account, but to use the account, the order must go through the Student Life office to make a purchase, this can take weeks. Items purchased cannot be sent to a student’s or adviser’s home but must be sent to the college, which can delay things further before the item is delivered to the adviser’s office.
Guest speakers can cause another issue. If a club wishes to have a paid guest speaker at a meeting, the club is required to have a contract, a contract questionnaire, a vendor profile application, a W-9 form and a business license. This must all be in place prior to the guest speaker meeting, and then there must be a vendor invoice and a reimbursement request for the speaker to be paid.
There are other administrative requirements. Among these are a facilities request form 10 days prior to the meeting, fundraising request form, travel forms, Copy Center forms and bulletin board posting approval of flyers. The requirements place a burden on the volunteer club advisers and officers.
Some advisers came to the January 2020 ICC meeting to complain about the administrative requirements placed on clubs. The club handbook, where most of the requirements are listed, is 56 pages long.
The office of Student Life and the ICC need to focus on helping clubs market themselves and what activities can be done online. Currently clubs are told what they cannot do, such as meet in person, hold field trips, or off campus activities, but no guidance is offered about what clubs can do except to hold meetings via Zoom, and each club has to set up its own Zoom meetings.
Club administrative procedures need to be simplified In order to reduce the burden on club advisers and officers. There is no incentive during the pandemic for anyone to volunteer to be an unpaid adviser or club officer. The student life office and ICC need to help clubs survive in the COVID-19 pandemic and online classes.
Alan Lewis is the photo editor of The Express. Follow him @AlanLew89343503.