COLUMBIA -- Columbia College students are close to quadrupling the number of clubs on campus -- from one to four.
Student leaders have struggled in recent years to encourage student involvement in on-campus clubs and activities. This year, they're on a mission to reverse that trend.
Community colleges face an uphill battle recruiting students -- many of them commute, many work and have families, many are only there for two years before transferring and student leadership turns over every year.
Columbia College faces even more challenges. The campus is isolated in the foothills, the student population of 3,300 is small and many students are more apathetic than the average college student, said Jayme Johnson, the student body president.
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"A lot of students don't want to stick around after class," said the hospitality management major. "And Columbia has a lot of the indie-alternative students -- it's cool to not get involved."
At the University of California at Merced, with just under 2,000 students, more than 75 clubs are chartered.
Advertising campaigns at Columbia have failed, said Laura Wilcox, vice president of clubs. She is studying modern literature and contemporary dance.
"It's a very huge struggle. We've hit a lot of brick walls," Wilcox said. "But clubs give people a better sense of what's going on. They can connect with people of (their) generation."
This year's student senators are pushing for more clubs, especially those that match Columbia-centric topics such as environmentalism, spoken word and drama.
The only chartered club is BEER -- Bicycling, Environmental Ecology and Recycling.
BEER's 15 or so members collect Columbia's recycled items and use the revenue for student scholarships, Johnson said.
Other organizations close to becoming official are Friends of the Senate, students who aren't part of the student senate but want to be involved; a horticulture club that would get the campus' greenhouse up and running; and a juggling club.
Efforts to set up a Gay-Straight Alliance have waned, Johnson said.
Student involvement on the rise
Students are buzzing about starting an open mic night so others can display their spoken word and poetry skills. People also could comment on campus happenings and politics.
People have noticed the senate's efforts to encourage more student involvement.
"This year, we're seeing a lot of cool excitement. We're seeing some fresh stuff coming out of there," said Dennis Gervin, vice president for student learning.
Administrators are brainstorming ways to help encourage the clubs, which could include partnership with high schools and mentoring, Gervin said.
Johnson said she hopes students realize the importance of associating with a club.
"They need to have their voices heard," she said. "My life has been much more enriched by me exploring my interests."
For more information on clubs at Columbia College, call 588-5270.
Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2339.