What to do at GWU

Welcome to college: 15 hours a week of class, maybe another 12 for a job and then a wild nirvana of free time that most incoming freshmen can barely imagine. It’s great at first, but then the shock wears off and most people find themselves asking, “What am I going to do for the next four years?” At GW, the answer is simple: whatever makes you happy, whatever you find interesting, whatever you’ve always wished you could do.

For most students, the college years are about discovering new things and exploring new ideas, and one of the easiest ways to get started (and to make friends) is to find a group of people with a common interest. On the Student Activities Center’s Web site, there’s a list of almost 300 student organizations covering everything from politics to paintball. A few, such as the Student Association, Program Board and Greek-letter organizations, are big names on campus. But finding the others takes a little more effort. Go to a student involvement fair or SAC website. Or, read on to discover some of GW’s little-know student orgs.

Like it or not, GW is a place filled with politically-minded people. Democrat or Republican, Libertarian or Progressive, anyone can find similar people with whom to discuss their political views. Or for those who want to have their ideas challenged by the other side of the political spectrum, there’s the Republocrats, a political debate society which fosters batting around the issues of the day with people from all over the political map.

But some organizations aren’t so political.

Pick a country. Chances are good there’s a club centered around it, promoting its culture, values and people. Even students who aren’t part of a nationality that is represented by its own club, they can still attend cultural events.

Community service organizations flourish at GW, including Circle K and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to national organizations that have chapters here, there are a few GW-specific community service groups. Buzzing for Change is raising money for chronically ill children by getting 230 GW students to get buzz cuts and then donate the hair to make wigs for chemotherapy patients. The GW Dance Marathon is a group that raises money for The Children’s National Medical Center with a 12-hour marathon of dancing.

College is also a chance to develop creatively, even for the non-theater or fine arts major. There are plenty of theater groups at GW: Generic Theatre Company, Forbidden Planet Productions and 14th Grade Productions are general interest theater groups, each putting on shows in different venues around campus. Absolute Pleasure Productions focuses on more non-traditional theater (highlighted by the annual rendition of the Rocky Horror Picture Show). The Exonerated Players perform works revolving around relevant political issues. Students with aspirations in improvisation can check out receSs or the all-female improv group Capitol Goga.

Besides performance, creative writing also thrives. Students can submit poetry, art and fiction to magazine Wooden Teeth or join the editorial board and help decide what goes into the publication. There’s also Le Cult de Moi, a similar magazine, though it publishes criticism instead of artwork, as well as Mortar and Pestle, which publishes exclusively online. For those interested in creative writing from the critical end, The GW Review, GW’s only national publication, meets regularly to consider submissions for its upcoming issue from both national and international writers. More academically-minded authors may be interested in GW Inquiry, a journal dedicated to publishing student research.

Exercising the mind is always a challenge, but exercising the body is also a must for some. Learn the art of self defense and get a good workout in the process. The Martial Arts Club, JKA Karate Club, GW Taekwondo, Capoeira Club (Brazilian martial arts) and the Martial Six are available to teach students of all skill levels, as are clubs dedicated to the swordplay of fencing and kendo.

A lot of students love to compete but aren’t athletically-inclined. For those who favor battles of wits, GW has the GW Parliamentary Debate Society, which allows students to represent GW at tournaments across the country. GW Mock Trial re-enacts court cases at competitive national meets, while the GW Academic Competition Club sends students across the country to show off their knowledge of trivia in a College Bowl style competition.

Some hobbies can’t be categorized, and GW students have formed all sorts of clubs dedicated to their diverse interests. Why not check out the Ballroom Dance Society, or Poker Club, GW Anime Society, Liquid Arts (hip-hop performance art), among others, for a gateway into a whole new hobby?

The above list of groups does not begin to touch on the University’s wide range of organizations. There are religious groups, ones centered around gender and/or sexual preference, groups tied to a wide variety of majors, organizations devoted to almost any political cause imaginable and a few that just defy classification. They’re all listed online and will be recruiting soon. If you’re interested in something that isn’t listed here, whether you’re into professional wrestling or clothing design, astronomy or Communism, you can start your own organization. All you need is an idea and five members. Just talk to a SAC adviser on the 4th floor of the Marvin Center, and you’ll soon be on your way!

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