Fondue does not just mean food for one new student organization – it means a roundtable discussion in current events.
The Fondue and Foreign Policy Club is just one of nearly 50 new clubs this year, bringing the total number of student organizations to nearly 400, Student Activities Center Director Tim Miller said.
Clubs making their debut this year include the Multicultural Cooking Club, Chinese Performing Arts Troupe and the GW Intercollegiate Equestrian Team.
Students can register a new club at any point in the year, a change from two years ago when clubs could only be registered once in the spring and once in the fall. SAC made the change in order to give freshmen more of an opportunity to start clubs after they become adjusted to the University.
“We try to do everything we can to get them started,” Miller said. “We have tried to make it very easy.”
The registration process for new clubs can be done mostly online and includes signing a responsibility form agreeing with University policies, drafting a constitution for the club and sending two representatives to a mandatory registration meeting. SAC will then approve the new club proposal as long as there are no “substantial” problems, Miller said.
“I review that their constitution makes sense and that they’re not advocating something that is against University policy,” Miller said.
He added that he has only rejected one proposal – a “Fight Club”-type group – in two and a half years. Miller said the General Council and Risk Management Office make the final decision about the possible dangers of such clubs.
Eric Ansanelli ran into these difficulties when attempting to register his Boxing Club last spring.
“They gave me so much trouble trying to register,” Ansanelli said. “They thought it was going to be like a fight club.”
Ansanelli gathered information from the National College Boxing Association and brought in a professional coach for their club to prove the organization was legitimate. The 12 to 15 club members practice at a local gym and compete with area universities.
Other club founders said registering their groups was simple. Freshman Josh Suchoff said the hardest part of registering the Model Congress Club was writing the constitution.
Suchoff helped register the group – the fourth of its kind in the country and the first for a non-Ivy league school – in September. Model Congress clubs are responsible for organizing and hosting high school conferences.
Suchoff said the greatest challenge of starting a new club is “definitely membership.” The club has nearly 30 members, but he said they need about 75 in order to plan their four-day conference next spring. Fifty high schools have already expressed interest in participating, Suchoff said.
Junior Robin Wood helped register the Fondue and Foreign Policy club in early October for “people who enjoy foreign policy and want to get together and discuss current events.”
He described the registration process as “really simple,” but admitted their club has had some problems getting organized.
“It’s been a challenge getting things together,” Wood said. “I don’t think any of us realized how many things the other (executive) board members have going on.”
Miller said challenges for a new club mostly concern “learning how everything works.” He added that every organization has a SAC advisor to help them.
“What many of them do is sort of fumble through the process,” Miller said. “It takes them 10 hours to do something that would take two.”
Miller added that “funding will always be an issue” for new clubs and hopes all groups will “spend money wisely.” New clubs are normally allocated a budget of $150 from the Student Association Senate.
“We got our $150 and we are going to spend it and try to get more next year,” Ansanelli said.
Every year, a few clubs are not able to get off the ground or fail to transition into a new year, Miller said.
“One of our big concerns is that groups work with us to transition officers,” Miller said. “I think a lot of groups that struggle long-term is because that one person does most of the work and gets burnt out.”