nications? Many science and environment clubs offer a unique approach.
Interested in religious identities? Involvement in Canada’s spiritual clubs
can have a life-changing effect on participants. Want to know about organizational behaviour and leadership? Simple changes like assigning
titles can have noticeable effects on member behaviours. The list of subject areas to which the study of campus clubs might make a meaningful
contribution goes on and on – and you don’t even have to leave campus to
reach your subjects.
Campus clubs, at their best, really do live up to the portrait just painted. However, anyone who has ever been a member of a club may have as
many negative memories of frustrating inefficiencies and lack of focus
as they have positive memories of productive outcomes and real impact.
There are relatively few resources, forums and publications to ensure
clubs are able to function at their best.
Universities and the non-profit sector more broadly have an opportunity to come together here and make the most of clubs. Universities can
partner with non-profit groups like Imagine Canada to publically recognize the contribution and the potential of campus clubs. Universities can
create opportunities for students, administrators and the non-profit sector
to come together and share best practices, whether that be through a conference, an online forum or a simple email newsletter.
It is crucial to learn from the universities and student unions who
have made it a priority to get the most out of their clubs. Two good examples are the University of British Columbia and University of Toronto. In the case of UBC, clubs have considerable financial accountability
and oversight expectations. In the case of U of T, through its ULife, the
university has invested in significant online infrastructure that acts as an
important co-ordination and recruitment tool for clubs.
Most importantly, whatever comes next, Canadian data will be necessary to get it right. Universities and academics from all kinds of disciplines should begin to study campus clubs. At the very least, travel costs
will be low.
Benjamin Miller is a law student at the University of Toronto. He is a long-time campus club
organizer and community radio host.
The number and types of campus clubs
at Canadian universities
Source: Benjamin Miller, based on an analysis of university
and student union websites, 2013-14.
“It is crucial to learn from the universities
and student unions who have made it
a priority to get the most out of their clubs.”