Medieval clubs diversify college experience

Medieval Clubs diversify college experienceKathleen Gallagher is a typical American college student. She goes to class, studies with friends and hangs out with her roommate.

Gallagher also knows how to sew medieval clothing and will learn how to weave and create chain mail armor this year with the Falcon’s Gate, a University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point club that’s dedicated to the study of medieval history and life in the Middle Ages.

Gallagher is one of thousands of students who are looking to diversify their campus experience through involvement with innovative college clubs.

Any student who wants to get involved should take the chance on a club that piques their interest, Gallagher said.

Students who participate in extracurricular activities have the opportunity to interact with professors outside of the classroom, network with professionals and meet friends, said University of Wisconsin Marathon County student activities coordinator Matt Greenberg.

Many students want to make friends and get involved, but think they should wait to join a club once they get settled. Not true, said Greenberg.

“Absolutely right away. Within the first two weeks is an important time for students to make bonds and connections,” he said. “If the first few weeks or a semester go by, they are less likely to get involved.”

According to a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators 2009 report, which surveyed more than 14,000 students from 35 U.S. colleges and universities, 65 percent of students said participating in campus activities helps them learn to balance their social and academic lives. Fourteen percent said their commitment to clubs caused their grades to drop, but 25 percent said they improved their grades.

UWMC has an enrollment close to 1,400 students and had 11 clubs during the 2009-10 school year. The number of clubs for the 2010-11 school year was not available because new clubs could still be added.

UWMC sophomore and aviation major Miles Dux said he has gained skills and made connections from his involvement in the Student Government Association.

“You get to meet a lot of great contacts,” Dux said. “I got to hang out with the dean and met the UW System chancellor.”

Dux, 20, originally of Merrill, is the executive director of the SGA and he oversees two committees, one that determines how student segregated fees are spent and another that oversees the student newspaper, the Forum.

Dux said he also has increased his social circle since he became a member of the SGA.

The average student participates in two campus activities, the NASPA survey said. Students who attend smaller colleges tend to become involved in more organizations, the report says.

At the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, the student body of 9,200 students have their pick of 192 student organizations, said Susan LeBow, an assistant director in the Division of Student Affairs. LeBow said students who participate in extracurricular activities see positive academic and professional results.

“It’s a great way to get them connected and a way for them to gain skills they will use when they leave here,” LeBow said.

Both UWMC and UW-Stevens Point have involvement fairs within the first few weeks of school. It is at these events that students can learn more about clubs and become members.

Ashley Loudenslager, 18, of Antigo and Terra Albert, 18, of Junction City were recruiting members for the drama club Tuesday at the UWMC Involvement Fair. The club meets biweekly and members attend plays throughout the school year.

They said the club is a good way for students to make friends and engage in positive behavior.

“The close ties will help you escape from the stress and drama,” said Loudenslager. “It will help you relax so much more.”

Gallagher, 20, originally from Appleton, went to the first Falcon’s Gate meeting because she was interested in history. She said she was welcomed into the group immediately.

“Go to a meeting. You meet friends,” Gallagher said. “I live with one of the people I met at the first meeting, and now she’s my best friend in the entire world.”

Source: Wausau Daily Herald



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