Investigative lens: Club Rush on the commuter campus
Students ‘rush’ to improve advertising and organization for student clubs.
Education junior Sarah Apodaca has something in common with many students; she’s interested in student organizations — commonly referred to here as clubs — but doesn’t know how to find out about them.
“I want to join an education club because I would like to know the students I’m graduating with,” said Apodaca.
An online student, Apodaca says she wants to join an education club to know other majors better, but doesn’t know if such a club exists.
Club Rush, an annual marketing and promotional event for student organizations was held Feb. 6, 7 and 9 at Main and Brooks City-Base campuses. The event is organized by the Office of Student Engagement and Success to spread awareness.
Still, finding out about student organizations is not a simple task on a start-up commuter campus, students say.
Sociology junior Moses Gaitan, who was stopped on his way to class at Main Campus Jan. 31, seemed interested about student organizations, but also did not know how to find information about them.
“I heard about it, but I have not seen anything for (Club Rush),” he said.
Reaching students through advertising
Club Rush coordinator and disability services Counselor Jolene Des Roches said plans occur months in advance.
“[We] started advertising and planning (Club Rush) in December,” Des Roches said, adding that she sent two emails to every student Jaguar account.
Advertisements were placed on the electronic media boards, the campus website and posted on bulletin boards around Main Campus.
A campus-wide email reminder was sent Jan. 31 by Margarita Vasquez, director of enrollment services. “Be part of the Jaguar Experience,” it relayed.
Still, many students do not check the Jaguar account regularly or have’t set one up.
University officials say advertising is done primarily through Jaguar email, and a low percentage of students follow the advice to enroll and regularly check the University-sponsored email system.
Left out of the Loop
Staff and administration argue that students who do not have Jaguar accounts are left out of the loop on news and events.
“We want the students to know that it’s important to check their student emails to find information about campus activities,” Des Roches said.
Ravi Kallianpur, director of information services, estimates the percentage of students who check their Jaguar account is low.
The University has created 6,900 Microsoft Live email accounts for community use. Of the 3,600 current students, Kallianpur said there were “1,500 students who have checked their Jaguar email accounts in the last 30 days.”
To understand the many reasons why students don’t subscribe to Jaguar email, The Mesquite interviewed students last spring and reported March 2011 that students have multiple email accounts, sometimes as many as four.
Already overwhelmed, most students don’t feel the need for another email. However, there is an alternative for students.
This tutorial instructs students how to forward and enable smartphones to receive Jaguar mail.
Student organizations are ‘vital’
Last week at Club Rush, tables lined the perimeter of Rooms 204/207, but some tables reserved for registered clubs were left empty. Pandora radio played in an attempt to attract students walking in the halls between classes.
Des Roches confirmed Feb. 13 that 156 students attended Club Rush. A total of 15 student organizations participated.
The turnout was disappointing for some students, but they did not see it as a failure.
“I think it’s vital to have events such as Club Rush,” President Pancho Martinez, computer science senior and Cyber Security Athenaeum (CSA), said.
Martinez said Club Rush allows students to see that clubs exist and the purpose each one serves.
Much like CSA, Math Club president senior Ernest Patino said that events held by the University let the student body know that organizations are growing and becoming more available to students.
Even University collaborators and partners tell students that building takes time, especially in the start-up environment.
Provided the turnout numbers at Club Rush, developer Tom D’Allesandro of Verano-Blakefield, who was visiting the Brooks Campus last week said, “I wouldn’t call that a failure.”
Several organizations tout large and active memberships.
Like CSA, another student organization that sees a lot of foot traffic is the Psychology Club, which had a booth at both Main and Brooks campuses.
“We have up to 40 to 50 members and one of our main focuses is giving back to to the community,” James Gomez, psychology senior and club vice president, said. “That’s why we’ve hosted events such as the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march, contributed to suicide prevention hot lines and other various community services.”
Still, students, especially those who wish for a more lively campus culture, think the administration could do more.
The Office of Student Engagement and Success updates a list of student organizations and advertises Club Rush to the student body, but some students say they found out about the event too late and some found out by word of mouth.
Advertising fliers on the day of event were posted in front of the stairs on each floor of Main Campus and near the elevator a sign indicated a meeting in Room 204/207. Signs in front of Room 204 read “free hot dogs” but the words “Club Rush” were not part of the sign.
“I want to be more involved with clubs,” criminology junior Guadalupe Ortiz said. “The only way I found out about Student Veterans of America was (through) networking.”
Other students, lured by the Student Programming Board’s Campus Appreciation Day, came across Club Rush, held in the same room.
“My class is across the hall and I saw the sign,” business junior Zack Kelley said Feb. 9 at Brooks Campus.
Some students argued that Club Rush should have been in an area open to more foot traffic. That way, passersby could have come across the event, like they do on other campuses.
Club Rush was held in adjoining classrooms 204/207 on Main Campus and classroom 145 at Brooks Campus. Those rooms are used frequently for larger events, functions and guest speakers.
The locations were reserved because “classrooms 204/207 are located on the second floor. This is the largest space that the university has. It is also located where most of the classes on this campus are held,” DesRoches said via email.
DesRoches said organizers did not hold Club Rush outside because of the weather.
And, she said, due to the number of organizations that responded to the invitation to attend Club Rush, it was not appropriate to hold it in the main foyer.
“There would not have been enough room to hold it there,” she said. “We also must be mindful of safety issues with having too much traffic in front of exits in case of an emergency.”
Every student interviewed said Club Rush was important, but they also agreed that there needs to more advertising and organization.
“Student organizations need more involvement overall with campus activities,” education junior and SPB President Stefanie Shedrock said.
For more information about clubs and student organizations visit tamusa.tamus.edu/studentorganizations/organizations.html.