Freshman orientation probably didn’t mention the underground cemetery at UTPA. Passing by the cafeteria, the ghostly presence is strong. For across the walkway, within the Office of Student Involvement’s file cabinets, lie the last remains of yesteryear’s student clubs.
One entry in the club cemetery ledger, The Pinche Pendejos Comedy Club, was short-lived due to its controversial name, according to administrative assistants at the OSI. Other groups ended more mysteriously. Before The Pan American could cover UTPA’s first ever magical sports match, The Muggle Quidditch League disappeared quietly into obscurity. Food Not Bombs, the Robotics Club and the Graphic Design Club were similarly abandoned and buried under countless other groups suffering a loss of interest or failed leadership.
Especially at the beginning of the year (take heed, freshmen), student groups do their best to reach the 21 percent of UTPA willing to get involved. Recruitment is important because as members graduate, membership dwindles and that’s how clubs die. Clubs that plan to stay recruit freshmen and sophomores to ensure members for the future. Unfortunately for the clubs, of the 19,000 UTPA students, only 4,000 join anything. With numbers like that, it’s not surprising that some clubs, even the ones with contingency plans, just don’t make it.
Does the death of Graphic Design Club or Robotics Club or any other club mean that UTPA didn’t need it? Not at all. A successful club not only provides a social outlet for persons of similar interests, but real-world experiences and opportunities, which every undergraduate student needs. When the inevitable graduation happens, classmates become competition, and students not involved in a club should be aware that not all of their peers go home between or immediately after classes. The recent grad who took advantage of the plethora of opportunities made available during their undergraduate years will have the relevant somethings on their resume needed to get a callback for an interview. It’s unfortunate for future generations of students who will miss out on some of these chances because of one year of poor membership that killed a group forever.
Clubs can help students a lot – but they need help from students, too. Being involved in a club saves a club this year, which might allow it to remain active on campus for… as long as later generations of students will keep it. So join something. Help your future-self and everyone else. Clubs can’t do anything for anyone if they’re inactive or abandoned and they only die once. Don’t let any more clubs die this year.