Underclassmen lead clubs on campus
The 2011-2012 academic year, welcomed the establishment of several new clubs including the Barbecue federation and the Ping-Pong club as well as the rejuvenation of others, the Environmental Coalition (EnviroCo), Amnesty International (AI) and the Colby Feminist Alliance. A lot of this initiative in starting and leading clubs has come from the College’s underclass students.
According to Paul Spangle, the assistant director of Campus Life, the main reason that Colby is seeing this influx in activity among the underclassmen, especially underclassmen women is that Campus Life and the College at large have made the avenues to start a club or an organization a lot less intimidating and more manageable to students.
“The questions we asked ourselves was: how do we reduce the barriers of entry without lowering the bar and quality of applications, while still maintaining accessibility and transparency? We framed a questionnaire that got to the heart of the matter and showed passion and the niche of the club within Colby,” Spangle said.
In the past, a full constitution, 10 members and a faculty advisor were required prior to this change in the application process. All the above are no longer required but are recommended to ensure a solid start. Student Government Association Parliamentarian Morgan Lingar ’13 said, “For the underclass students, there is more promise because they still have two to four years to get involved in different organizations around campus, unlike the upper-class students who we have noticed a trend in joining an already established club like Student Pugh Board (SPB) or PCB (Pugh Community Board).”
Aquib Yacoob ’15, student leader of Amnesty International, believes that one of the reasons members of his class year have been enthusiastic about opportunities offered on the Hill is that they found something missing at the College. “My high school was very activism-driven and I worked on a variety of projects like Japanese Relief campaigns and [my high school] offered a lot of opportunities to take initiative. Coming to a different atmosphere like Colby, I didn’t know what to expect, but Campus Life helped me to find my own [niche] and realize my potential.”
The success of underclass students is based on passion nurtured in high school, which the College community has supported to reach its full potential. However, Thalia Giraldo ’15 is driven by a different motivation. Giraldo said, “Actually my high school, a public school in New York City, was not the greatest of schools....and [there were] very few outlets for self-expression. Colby offers me these opportunities to share my pride in being Latina and having Peruvian, Argentinian and Australian heritage.” Giraldo is in the process of establishing two clubs: Women of Color Alliance and an Art Club that encompasses aspects taken from graffiti and other underappreciated or negatively connoted forms of art.
However, senior year has a lot of its own pressures, such as graduating, acquiring a job amongst other expectations. Karen Abbas ’12, the student leader of Colby Christian Fellowship (CCF), said, “I thought as a senior I’d have more time to engage in everything else I hadn’t, a club bucket-list, but I think with a lot of people they feel locked into things they have been doing for most of their College lives. I believe in doing what you can do and doing it well. The pressure of a private liberal arts college like this is to be an extraordinary student, be a great friend and community member and be in as many clubs as you can. It gets overwhelming and it’s really easy to over-commit.”
The challenges that students faced and the interests sparked in high school are able to reach their potential at the College. As a result, many underclass-students find their niche in the College by taking active roles in clubs on campus.