With 150 different student clubs and organizations on campus—ranging in areas of interest from Argentinian dance to microfinance—Lehigh would seem to have something to suit everyone’s outside-the-classroom interest.
But if there isn’t an existing club that caters to your interests, then Matt Kitchie, director of student activities has some simple advice: Stop by his office—Room 415 in the Ulrich Student Center—and start one.
“Our office often serves as the first contact point,” says Kitchie. “We’ll talk to students about strategies of getting started and about the overall feasibility of the club. In other words, is it a club that’s going to work or is it just the flavor of the day? If we find that a club is feasible and fills a unique need on campus, then we’ll get the students in touch with the Student Senate.”
Before students present their idea for a prospective group to the Club Affairs Committee—a 10-person committee in the Student Senate—Kitchie asks them to put together a constitution
as well as a tentative list of officers and possible group members. Once those simple steps are taken, the club can be proposed to the Club Affairs Committee.
Capture a story and fill a need
“The committee will ask them such questions as what are their goals, what are they hoping to get out of this club, how many prospective members they have,” says Kitchie. “They’re just trying to capture the story of the proposed group and learn what are their goals and see whether it’s a viable idea or not.
“If they’re satisfied the group is viable and fills a need on campus, then the committee will take that proposal as a bill to the Student Senate, which meets every other week.”
The entire senate considers and discusses each proposed group before rendering its decision.
“If it’s determined that there’s a real need for that proposed group and that starting that group will add something to the Lehigh community, then those groups usually become a reality,” says Kitchie. “It’s important to us that every student here feel a special connection to Lehigh and that every student feel welcome here. Having a club or organization where each student feels comfortable is important to establishing that connection to Lehigh.
“Numerous studies show that if a student is involved on campus—whether taking part in a student organization, working as a gryphon or in an on-campus job, playing on an athletic team or club sport, or participating in a unique research project—then their college experience will be more enjoyable.
“In my opinion, your college experience has to be more than just going to class. Extracurricular clubs and organizations help you in so many ways. They’re fun, they often result in lifelong friendships and they provide learning experiences for our students. Being in a student group at Lehigh helps students develop communication, leadership and team-building skills as well as reinforce many of the lessons learned in the classroom.”