Spring Term brings change for everyone — especially for those who lead clubs and organizations at a small school like Knox.
“We’re getting right into club transition,” said Assistant Director for Student Activities and Engagement Travis Greenlee. “What’s important for clubs, I think, is that the only thing constant should be change.”
That change, of course, takes several forms. The most obvious is leadership transition: electing a new executive board. But Greenlee emphasized the importance of assessing organizational goals and member involvement in keeping a club active. While Knox’s website advertises over 100 student organizations, a precise number is difficult to come by, as student interest waxes and wanes from year to year.
“Is what your club wants to achieve the same as what it wanted to achieve four years ago?” Greenlee said. “The answer could be yes, the answer could be no.”
Greenlee recommends that outgoing executive boards invest more time exploring what newer members want out of the organization and motivating them to take on responsibilities.
“The earlier an organization has a transition process, the more time it gives for the outgoing leader to show what they do,” he said.
President of Garden Club and senior Natalie Donahue wishes she’d begun this process sooner. While she counts five or six students, mostly underclassmen, as active members, Donahue feels like she hasn’t done much to prepare for next year’s leadership.
“People come when we have work days … but there’s not really anyone that I can see taking on executive duties,” she said, explaining that she’s largely handled logistics on her own or with the two other executive members, a post-baccalaureate fellow and another senior.
Donahue, who joined the club her freshman year, recalls not having a clear sense of how to run it herself when leadership was passed to her last year.
Freshman Sam Burgess, who was recently elected president of next year’s Model U.N. executive board, knows she has much to learn from its current leaders, largely seniors, before they graduate.
Burgess is also looking ahead to recruitment. While next year’s executive board includes mostly underclassmen, she knows this won’t always be the case.
“We need to build up our membership so that when my class leaves, there’ll still be a club,” she said.
Without growing their membership, clubs face an uncertain future. While a number of new clubs spring up each year, an unknown number of others go defunct or assume a non-budgeted status.
Over 50 clubs received budgets from Student Senate for this year, while almost 70 submitted requests for the year before. Student Senate Finance Chair senior Rahil Savani said he’d shared the budget request form with about 80 people for next year’s budgets, but noted that sometimes multiple people represent a single organization or a single person represents multiple organizations.
He attributes the slight decline in approved club budgets this past year to the fact that a handful of organizations did not attend the mandatory diversity and inclusivity workshops and were automatically denied funding. Savani had sent an email about the trainings to a list of club presidents, but it had not been updated to reflect leadership changes or new clubs.
This year’s remaining diversity workshops will be held on April 16, April 17 and May 1.
In an effort to improve communication, Savani instructed clubs to hold elections before submitting their budgets this year.
“That way, the new board knows what’s happening because when it comes to fall, I usually get emails asking me, ‘Hey, what does my budget look like?’” said Savani.
He also recommends that next year’s executive boards attend the information session that Senate’s new Finance Chair will hold in the fall.