Starting a student club or organization at York University can be one of the most rewarding things you do during your time in school. We learn just as much outside of the classroom as we do in it, and getting involved in extracurriculars is a great way to maximize that. Though inarguably rewarding, starting a club can be a daunting and stressful task – here are a few tips to ensure the launch of your student club or organization at York University is a huge success!
1. Be clear on why you want to start the club and what your vision for it is.
What are the values, goals, and mission of the community you are trying to build? What is it trying to achieve? What might be the shared goals of the individuals in the club? Do some serious reflecting. The leader of a community should have a clear vision so that potential members understand whether their personal values align enough to join the club.
2. Decide on rules and procedures for the club.
Determine the roles of the members of the club and the rules for how the club will operate. How are club members expected to contribute? How will members who take on roles with higher responsibilities be held accountable in some way? You should also understand how you will make sure all members feel equally heard and included and consider how to make sure all members have equal access to opportunities offered by the club. The procedures for the club needs to be outlined clearly and it would be advisable to draw up an accountability contract. Determine the communication rules and procedures such as how the group will make decisions. For example, perhaps decisions are made by a majority vote.
3. Write a killer ratification letter
The initial step in creating a successful and impactful club at York University starts with getting ratified by the university – in other words, being approved by the administration to run your club. You have to apply to YFS, the student union to do this. You will usually need a minimum number of students who are potential members to submit with this application. Writing a killer application means you should include all the details about your club discussed in the previous points and make the intentions and value of your club apparent. In writing your application remember to answer questions like: How will your club benefit its members? How will your club contribute meaningfully to the York University community? Additionally, have others proofread your application before submission and perhaps include a letter of support from a faculty member if you can obtain one!
4. Recruiting Members
Consider who would benefit from getting involved in this club and reach out to them on campus. Is your club geared towards a professional field? Perhaps, reach out to the relevant colleges for that field of study to see if they can advertise the recruitment for your club in their listserv emails (they will often do this). Use your existing network of peers to find those who align with your club’s mission, values, and vision. Perhaps, host a killer welcome event that engages the wider York U community and introduces your club in a way that highlights its values and unique qualities. For example, a social justice club might host a workshop on equity or a poetry club might host an open mic night.
5. Secure funding
Money, money, money! Securing funding is imperative for a club to run the kind of initiatives and events they ultimately want to. You must consider how much funding you will need, how you can secure funding, and who will handle and organize the finances of your club (it is recommended to have a specific executive or lead role designated to this very important task). To successfully fund your club activities you can apply to York’s Federation of Students for funding. This is the path that most clubs at the school will typically take. Don’t stop there – there is unlimited potential for funding your club. Create a sponsorship and fundraising package outlining your plans for the money that you can send out to communities within and outside of York. Reach out to your network of family and friends. Furthermore, faculties at the school will often fund student organizations and projects that align with their values. Outreach, outreach, outreach!
6. Work with other student clubs and organizations
Find clubs on campus that align with your club’s values and collaborate! Invite each other to your events or host an event together. Show up as a club at their events to show mutual support. This will bring new members into your club and open up opportunities to access resources between each other. This also strengthens the campus community as a whole and who doesn’t want that?!
Ultimately, creating a community is a task that requires a lot of time and dedication but creating your club at York University should become much easier if you use these suggestions. A community is one of the most rewarding and empowering things students have access to at York University and there are endless opportunities for building the kinds of communities and networks you want to with such a large and diverse student body.