Be Involved

From: Public Affairs

For many James Madison University students being the change starts with being involved.   JMU offers over 300 active organizations for students to get involved in and welcomes students to create their own club if they don't find what they are looking for.

"Being in a club can have benefits throughout college and life: socially, in terms of rounding out your academic experience, in terms of leadership, in terms of your resume," said Office of Student Activities and Involvement's Kindra Amott, coordinator for student organizations.


Student organizations are busy preparing for Student Organization Night, Sept. 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Convocation Center.  Senior Katie Crandell, president of Madison JUMP, a club that provides mentors for first-year students, said the members of her organization will serve as Student Organization Night Guides.  The SONGs will help first-year students navigate the sometimes overwhelming number of club offerings at SON.

The Invisible Children club will set up information at SON and have club members there to answer questions and recruit new members.  "I think it's really important to be involved on campus because it's one of the best ways to meet people," said senior Gabrielle Haeringer, IC's co-president.  "I've met some of my best friends through Invisible Children. Being involved also gives you the opportunity to really be a part of something on campus, so that when you leave college you've left with a lot more meaningful experiences and a strong sense of community."

New year, new clubs

JMU encourages students to create new clubs if they do not find any that interest them.  Roughly 12 new clubs are added each semester.  Prospective clubs with at least eight committed members may submit applications on the first day of class, and a lottery is held if more than 12 groups apply for recognition.

“This year, we had 21 organizations apply for recognition, so a lottery took place and 13 were taken into the Creating Excellent Organizations workshop series,” said OSAI graduate assistant Eric Bouchard. “These 13 organizations must attend all four CEO trainings and present to the Organization Recognition Committee before approval.”

Ranging from clubs that advocate a safer and more unified JMU community to academic-centered organizations, there are clubs for students to not only fulfill their passions, but make a difference as well.

Junior Truman Horwitz leads Student Greater Madison, formed in spring 2011. “We want to encourage a positive dialogue between the City of Harrisonburg and JMU, both students and faculty, and hope that the actions we take make Madison greater,” said Horwitz.  SGM plans on recruiting new members at SON to help plan activities like The Big Event, a community-based day of service.

In an effort to help bridge the gap between the Political Science and History Departments and the College of Education, the Future Social Studies Educators club was formed during spring 2011.

“We offer several personal and career development workshops, advising sessions and resume workshops with Career and Academic Planning for members majoring in history or political science and minoring in Interdisciplinary Social Science,” said FSSE member Samantha Reynolds. “We expect to grow from 50 to 80 students after SON this semester.”

Be Involved Online

OSAI is very excited to debut the new Be Involved Web-based application to help students manage their organizations and their personal involvement at JMU.   Students already involved in campus organizations can create a profile and have access to their club's page where information will be posted, a calendar of events is listed, service hours can be tracked and students can even participate in club elections.  "Our goal is to have students constantly checking it," said Amott.  "If this tool is in your toolbox and you're not using it, you're missing out."

Amott points out Be Involved is also an excellent tool for students who are just starting to explore student organizations at JMU. The Web site lets students rank their interests and then Be Involved will recommend clubs that meet those interests.

"My hope is that students take advantage of the opportunities here because there are so many," said Amott. 

For more information, visit: The Office of Student Activities and Involvement

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September 6, 2011

By Paula Polglase and Lisl Magboo