The great thing about student organizations in college is that if you can’t find one you like, you can just create your own. The process is fairly simple as well.
My experience with wanting to start my own student organization at the University of Illinois didn’t come from a boring walk through on Quad Day. In fact, I cannot imagine anyone finding Quad Day boring! Instead, I decided that I needed to start my own student organization because I felt that there was a space missing.
To be specific, I wanted to create a safe, empowering space for students of color who are majoring or minoring in history. I love being a history major and always have since the very first day of my first class my freshman year. The history department at the University of Illinois works hard to provide a variety of courses that cover a diverse number of topics.
But as a Black woman, I quickly realized that not many people of color pursue a college degree in history in general. The history department here does a great job supporting all of its students equally and also puts in a lot of work to try to change the lack of people of color in history. This is something that I always rave about because of how important that work is, and I have always felt at home in the history department.
But important work takes time and requires a lot of helping hands to get it done. I felt compelled to contribute to this much-needed change and provide my peers with a space where they could connect with students and faculty members who looked like them and also had a passion for history. And that’s how the student organization for people of color in history was born (we’re still working on an official name.)
I first brought my idea to my history faculty mentor, who immediately expressed her support for the organization and even offered to be the faculty representative. After receiving her support I brought the idea to the history advisor, who also gave me his full support.
These experiences were extremely important to me. They showed me just how much support I would have within the department for creating a student organization that is very important to me. My fellow founders and I are now excitedly awaiting the registered student organization registration period to open up while beginning to plan what our first events will be, fundraise, come up with marketing ideas, and, of course, determine our name.
The purpose of this post is to simply show that fostering change on your college campus is possible. If you ever feel like something is missing or something is not right, you do have the power and ability to do something about it if you desire to. No action is not enough or “too small.” Action is action, period.
Find the people who will support you, like my faculty advisor and my department advisor. There are always people around you who feel the same as you and have the same desire to foster change. All you have to do is find them, and once you do, it’s only downhill from there.