by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Brittany Livingston '15 was very involved in extracurricular activities in high school, but when she entered a large state university last year, she found it hard to carve out her niche. "I really wanted to feel that sense of community again, but it was hard to do at such a big school," she recalled. So she transferred to Dickinson last fall.
Just a few months later, Livingston is the secretary of Phoenix, a Dickinson service organization, and she's inspiring fellow students to join in the fun, too.
Livingston is one of the hundreds of students who volunteered at this year's Spring Activities Night, an event that highlights some of the more than 130 student clubs and organizations and intramural sports Dickinson offers.
Hot off the presses
Noam Wegner '15, a theatre-arts major, arrived as an active member in the Mermaid Players and left with plans to attend info sessions hosted by the Dance Theatre Group, the Belle Lettres Society and the Treehouse, among others. "It's a good opportunity to meet people who share your interests and expand your social circles," he said. "It's also a good opportunity to learn about all of the new clubs on campus."
They included the much-anticipated Quidditch Club, which plans to hold its first tournaments this spring; the not-yet-official Cycling Club, an offshoot of the Green Bikes program sparked by Tom Shewell '15; and Yes, Please, a peer-education group that informs the campus about sexual violence. Other new organizations were Farm Cook Eat, a student-led children's-cooking program that focuses on sustainable, local and healthy recipes; and the Dickinson SHOP, where students can sharpen their home-repair skills.
Carving out the time
For the students who join the club, the reasons to get involved are as individual as the interests the clubs indulge. "Getting involved in sports definitely is a great way to burn off some stress and energy when you're sucked up in schoolwork," said Katherine Hecock '13, who especially enjoyed her weekly visits to the stables as part of the equestrian team. Grace Fisher '15 cited the close friends she made when she joined the Syrens a cappella group. "It was the first club I joined, and it really changed my whole experience here," she said, noting that Syrens alumni remain in touch with current students.
For Rachell Williams '14, an intern for the Center for Sustainability Education, and Molly Mullane '15, founder of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, their extracurricular and co-curricular work is a calling. "It feels great, being involved in something that's bigger than yourself—and something that helps the community," Williams said.
Kirsten Brents '14, a member of the Blue Mountain Battalion R.O.T.C. who became involved with the Russian Club during her sophomore year, stated that her experiences as a club officer helped her grow as a person. Sara Raab '13 noted that club officers also pick up valuable job skills. "You can try out different tasks and responsibilities and gain experience in a lot of different areas," explained Raab, who planned events as a member of the Spectrum executive board. "You also learn how to establish a professional relationship with faculty members and administrators and how to work best with other members of the club."
Out on a limb
But the most compelling argument for joining in is also the most simple, according to Angeline Apostolou '15, a tour guide, Dance Theatre Group member and student coordinator for the Clarke Forum. "It's just a big part of the whole campus experience that you don't want to miss," she explained. "It's hard to just keep to yourself here, and that's a good thing, because otherwise, you don't expand your horizons, learn who you are or discover new things."
Clément Méric, an exchange student from the University of Political Sciences of Toulouse, got that memo loud and clear. "In my hometown school we have 16 or 17 clubs, total, so this is really quite amazing to me," said Méric, who signed up to participate in the French, Spanish, paintball, tennis and fencing clubs. "It's super-cool."
Ann Lemmo '14, an environmental-studies major who transferred to Dickinson last year, agreed. "What's great is that students really reach out to their peers here," she said. "You feel free to just go out on a limb and try something new. You just go for it."
Published January 25, 2013