From dance clubs to bendy straws, the Student Centers and Activities department, part of the Division of Student Affairs at Virginia Tech, helps students join clubs targeted towards their interests. “We have such a diverse offering of student groups,” said Steve Burrell, assistant director for student organizations. “We’re excited we have something we think will meet anyone’s interest, and if we don’t, you can create one.”
With over 700 registered student organizations and around 60 new clubs every year, there are plenty of options for new students. They include Greek clubs, military clubs, service clubs, academic clubs, religious organizations, and cultural organizations. Students also have the opportunity to create a club. It only takes one paper form and three students to start a club.
“When I came to Virginia Tech, I was already excited and interested in participating in school-wide activities such as Relay for Life, Gobblerfest, and the Big Event, but I was not sure who to do it with,” said Emily Basso, of Smithfield, Va. a sophomore studying industrial and systems engineering. Basso is the president and founder of the quirky Bendy Straw Club. “The Bendy Straw Club has given me a way to participate in all of these activities with a great group of people.”
Clubs can be a way for students to meet people outside of their residence halls and classes. Basso said that the Bendy Straw Club allowed her to connect with people she never would have otherwise and hopes the club provides that opportunity to other students.
“We wanted to create a fun, social club in which anyone at Virginia Tech could join, make new friends, and get involved in the Virginia Tech community together,” she said. “Bendy straws are something everyone likes and the Bendy Straw Club attracts people of every major, race, background, and interest. We have grown into a family of all different types of people.”
Burrell said not only do students gain numerous personal benefits from being involved in clubs, but also academic benefits. “Research shows that being involved helps students have a better experience while on campus,” he said. “Students that are involved in clubs have a higher retention rate and generally graduate in four to five years.”
Burrell also said that there are professional benefits that come from being involved in various clubs. “Students who are involved in organizations tend to have more skills that employers are looking for,” Burrell said. “They may not have gained those skills on the job but if they are involved in a club they know how to talk about conflict resolution or budgets.”
Burrell said that since Virginia Tech’s motto is Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), many students come to the university with community service experience and seek new ways to get involved. “Students find things that ignite a passion they never knew they had,” he said.
Burrell knows the positive impact that clubs can have first-hand. He started an organization when he was an undergraduate student and continued it while he pursued his graduate degree. “What you learn from experience with student organizations can be very positive and life changing in terms of what you get out of it,” he said.