As a freshman last year, Graham Murphy decided to do what many GW students have considered doing but have never actually done. He started his own student organization.
He formed The Out Crowd last year for students who are just “coming out of the closet.”
“If you’re not proactive, you’re not going to get a group started,” Murphy said.
“It takes about a year or two to get a group going,” he said. “The Student Activities Center has a lot to do, and they’re not going to do everything for you.”
SAC officials said they are trying to make the group-starting process easier by introducing mandatory advisers for organizations.
“This is the first year that we’ve introduced mandatory SAC advisers, whereas last year organizations were required to have a faculty adviser,” said GW graduate student Michelle Lammers, assistant program coordinator for Student Involvement.
“Now groups can keep the faculty adviser if they feel they can benefit from their expertise but consult with their SAC adviser regarding student organization regulation and GW policy,” Lammers said.
Despite the recent addition of advisers, the number of groups has decreased by more than 70 in the last year. While 249 groups were registered last year, only 178 are registered so far this year, Student Activities Center officials said.
Most small student groups that begin at the start of a semester taper off by the end of the semester, SAC student coordinator Anna Sampgna said.
However, officials said they expect to see more groups to apply throughout the year and get numbers back up to last year’s level.
The process for starting a group begins with obtaining members.
“You need at least five members to begin an organization,” Lammers said. “At least two of those members need to be officers who are willing to accept responsibility.”
GW Anime Society President Clark Munson said finding members was easy after his organization was created in 1999.
“Once you find a fan base, starting any club is not too difficult,” he said.
The next step in the organization process is done online, via the Gwired student network. Students getting a group together are advised to thoroughly read the Student Organization Manual, located on SAC’s Web site.
“It’s really a wealth of information, but it’s underused by groups,” Lammers said.
The manual contains detailed information about writing a group constitution, year-to-year transitions, budgets and funding allotted by the Student Association.
“We got hit pretty hard in the budget allotments this year,” Munson said.
“We’ve had to cut down on most of the projects we had planned. It’s really a shame.”
Other student organization leaders echoed this sentiment, with most saying the SA failed to allot enough money to cover expenses.
“I had been allocated x amount of dollars for the year, and when I tried to go and collect my money, the SA claimed that I hadn’t done some type of online registration, along with that paper form, and said (this) made me ineligible for funds,” said senior Stephen Samaniego, president of the Stranded Surfers. “I had done the online registration twice.”
The surfing club has been on campus for four years and surfs off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia.
The Out Crowd also experienced funding difficulties during its first year.
“The Student Association didn’t give us a lot of money, so now we’re trying to work more with other campus groups to try and share funds,” Murphy said.
Still, Lammers said money is out there.
“There are other places to go for groups to get funds,” she said.
She said that a program through SAC called Triple Play will give funding to groups who put on substance-free student events in the Hippodrome.
“These are events that will get students off the streets and away from alcohol,” she said.
Lammers added that feedback is essential for the process to work as efficiently as possible.
“We’re still looking for more reaction from students. We’re still looking for ways to tweak the system, so that next year we’ll be even more student-friendly,” she said. “Any time a student walks into the Student Activities Center, for whatever reason, we’re here to help.”