The student organizations at Middle Tennessee State University didn’t burst into existence in a miniature big bang: they were created by students to serve the MTSU community or one or more student sub-communities. Organizations may be social, academic, athletic, or professional in nature. After the initial creation of the groups, students have worked to establish and maintain the organizations, acts that often require a significant amount of ingenuity and creativity.
At the CUSTOMS student organization recruiting event on June 5th, 2018, I took the opportunity to talk with representatives from a variety of student organizations about the greatest challenges and rewards of creating, maintaining, and being involved with a student organization.
The challenges expressed by many groups include finding dedicated, involved members and simply getting the word out, letting students know that the organization exists and informing them about what it does. That can be quite a challenge with MTSU currently boasting over 320 student organizations! Other challenges mentioned by group representatives included distributing the workload, dealing with a constant turnover of members as some students graduate and others enroll, and establishing good leadership and the protocols for a smooth-running organization. Some groups have rather more specific challenges, such as including a wide spectrum of beliefs and opinions. Collage, a “student-produced, bi-annual magazine of creative arts,” is faced with a unique problem, according to Editor-in-chief Rebecca Clippers: finding staff is easy, but getting enough good submissions, the creative materials featured in the magazine, especially prose, is difficult.
However, with the challenges of starting and running a student organization come significant rewards, and the most often noted is finding a sense of community, of making friends and finally feeling you “fit in” somewhere on MTSU’s busy and diverse campus, of relationships found and cemented. With that comes the camaraderie of shared experience, sharing knowledge with others, and seeing the group come together to work toward common goals. Again, some representatives noted very specific goals, such as Avraz Anwar of Pre-Scripts, a pre-professional medicine organization, who noted the chances to network within a professional field, and through that networking to find job-shadowing and volunteering opportunities.
The representatives from two of MTSU’s newest student organizations, MTSU Bowling and Cause for Conversation (C4C), noted similar rewards that are almost certainly shared by those involved in every group: the idea that you have created something, that you can watch ideas evolve into events and activities, that you experience the sense of hope that the organization to which you’ve devoted your time and energies will last and grow!
If you’re not already a part of one of MTSU’s many student organizations, you should be. For a full list of currently active groups, see the MyMT organizations directory. Or, if you perceive a need for a new student organization, create one! The guidelines are available on the Students Organizations and Service website.
Thank you to the following groups and their representatives for talking with me in the preparation for this post:
Baptist College Ministries (BCM): Nathan Longwell, Tyler, & Jonathan
MTSU Bowling: Katherine Shattuck
Cause for Conversation (C4C): Sarah Pope, Emily, Megan, & Christian
Collage: Rebecca Clippard & Morgan
Debate: Jordan Nickell, Joshua, & Steven
Fencing: Chadwick Silan, Jane, & Nathan
La Comunidad: Elman Gonzales & Sergio
MT Lambda: Maxwell Pearson, Tina, & Kimberly
Student National Medical Association: Jared Millard
Omega Delta Psi (Recording Industries): Nick Barron & Josh
Pre-scripts: Avraz Anwar & Aelana
Religious Studies Association: Joshua Clemens & Allison
Sandbox: Cory Nelson, Brandon, & Bryce
Text and photos by Alvin Knox