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UWRF offers inclusive, purposeful orgs

February 11, 2010

UW-River Falls held an involvement fair Feb. 1, filling the Falls Room in the University Center with students and organization representatives.

There are many ways for students to be involved on campus including Greek life, intramural and club athletics, student organizations and Falcon Programs. Many of the activities are very low cost, some free and others even pay. All of the organizations offer benefits to those involved.

On average, students who are involved have better grades than their uninvolved peers, according to the Student Affairs Web site. Research on college students has shown that if they are involved in at least one activity on campus other than classwork, their success in the classroom and after graduation is much more likely. A few of the benefits listed on the SA Web site include students showing more discipline and better time management skills due to the need to fit more things into their daily schedules.

By being involved, students also improve their leadership and interpersonal skills, meet new people, make new friends, make constructive use of their energy and free time and feel more connected to the university. Campus involvement is a great outlet for stress, and the organizations allow students to become part of close communities, according to the SA Web site.

Students have many different options for being involved on campus. If there is an organization or club that a student would like to see on campus, they can start it themselves. By getting at least five people together, a student need only follow the ten simple steps listed on the student life page of the SA Web site to create their own organization.

There are currently around 170 active student organizations on campus.

According to Matt Levine, student organization and Greek life coordinator, the groups range from five to over 100 members. “I would say that a significant student population is involved with a student organization that is central to their academic learning,” Levine said.

He also stated that he thinks an incredible cause for getting involved outside of the classroom is for students to get an opportunity to take a break from the academic stressors of campus life.

These organizations range from agriculture-based clubs to break-dancing, gay-straight alliance to foreign languages, gamers to navigators and paintball to parkour. There are also many club and recreational athletics, along with three fraternities and five sororities.

Sophomore Jessi Beucler has given a few different orgs a try, including Poultry Club, Sigma Alpha, Ag Ed Society and the National Residence Hall Honorary.

“I joined the orgs that I am involved in because I love being involved and I especially love getting to know people that share the same interests as me,” Beucler said.

She also stated that being involved was a great way to gain leadership and communication skills. Beucler said she also enjoys meeting new people, and when a student happens to be in an organization and have common classes with her, it’s definitely a perk.

“You have an automatic study buddy, kind of a built in thing,” she said. “Another thing that excites me is that with being involved, you get to see other people develop their own sense of being and you get to see how a person can ‘find’ themselves, in a sense.”

Despite the wide array of offered opportunities, some students are not involved. Freshman Casey Dierks said she’s too busy to be involved, though she would like to.

“I work two jobs, and between the working and studying I don’t have much time for extras,” she said.

Senior Amber Olson said she hasn’t found an organization that interests her enough for the time commitment required by involvement.

“I already have a full class schedule, tons of friends to be with, work full time and family to see,” she said. “I found that I can do the things I love without the meetings or politics of a club or org.”

One of the clubs on campus is the Bushwhackers Club, which is focused on providing inexpensive and fun opportunities for students to experience different aspects of the outdoors. The organization has a list of approximately 200 people who are interested in the club trips, but junior member Emily Carlson says there are typically around 12 people on each trip.

“The people who would like to go on any given trip respond to the e-mails and come to the meetings preceding the trip,” she said.

Carlson has been a member of Bushwhackers since she was a freshman.

“A $130 spring break hiking trip to the Smokey Mountains got me interested. What can I say? I’m a poor college student,” she said.

Charles Sowa, assistant director of recreation, said club sports are one of three recreational opportunities offered by Recreation and Sport Facilities at UWRF. There are currently 13 different club sports offered, and like all other student organizations on campus, club sports must be a recognized student org and follow the same criteria as the other clubs as outlined in the student org handbook.

“Recreation and Sport Facilities does not set the clubs that are offered. The club offerings come from the interest of the students,” Sowa said. “The clubs are student-created, and, for the most part, student run.”

Club sports offer a more structured environment than intramurals, with teams hosting practices and traveling for competitions with other institutions.

“In year’s past, Club Sports have operated on their own without much direction,” Sowa said. “Traditionally, our most popular clubs have been the sports that are not necessarily offered by varsity athletics.”

Research has proven that more and more high school seniors are considering the recreation opportunities offered at an institution before choosing it, according to Sowa. New this year to club sports has been the addition of the Club Sports Council. This council is comprised of the current club sports on campus and is designed to help club sports function more effectively. The council offers help in creating budgets, developing an organizational policy and anything else that clubs may need to become more successful.

“Being involved on campus is critical to the collegiate experience and the experiences gained from club sports are valuable for a lifetime,” Sowa said.

Recreation and Sport Facilities have also offered intramural athletics on campus for over 30 years. Students, faculty and staff are able to participate in a variety of competitive and recreational sports activities year round. According to the intramurals Web site, numerous students play on over 400 teams in 30 different men’s, women’s and co-rec team and individual sports every year.

“We offer a wide variety of sports in hopes of appealing to a wide variety of people,” Sowa said. “In the last few years our participation has grown by more than 20 percent.”

Another opportunity to be involved on campus is Falcon Programs. Falcon Programs is a student programming board of 15 students with the mission “to provide dynamic opportunities for the UWRF campus and community to enhance their educational experiences through inclusive and purposeful programming,” according to FP adviser Karyn Wells. Falcon Programs supports and manages many programs, including leadership retreats, ally trainings, concerts, service trips, bingo, comedians, etc.

Sophomore Jayne Dalton said she enjoys being involved. “I once heard the adage, ‘the world belongs to those who show up.’ I feel that by being involved I can make a difference and contribute something positive to the world around me,” she said.

Dalton is currently contributing to Children’s Miracle Network and the River Falls area.

“In the future I plan to broaden that scope. In today’s world of awareness, brought about by technology, it’s a travesty for someone to remain a spectator,” she said. “There is so much to do in so little time—why waste it?”