It is a well-known problem in GCSA that student engagement with clubs has decreased. Since, COVID-19, student participation has notably decreased across the board and has not picked back up since. Similar trends have been observed by students from other schools all across the country, such as Midwestern State (Pettijohn), California State (Ortiz), and Georgia Highlands College (Williams).
Lately, however, several new clubs have formed at Gordon that have had much success among the student body. Their promotion of passion, creativity, and community is bringing new life to campus in various ways, despite the struggles of student participation as a whole. While not every one of these clubs will appeal to the entire campus, their unique focuses have something valuable to offer.
As someone who has been a part of clubs for most of my time at college, I wanted to discover what these new groups were doing at Gordon. I reached out to the leaders of many of the new clubs chartered over the past year to learn more about their organization, passion for the campus, and what they plan to do in the coming semesters.
CAIM is Gordon’s official club for disability and was founded last Fall semester. As a new club, CAIM has been one of the most active student led-organizations across campus. A few weeks ago (March 28-April 1st), they partnered with the Multicultural Initiatives Office (MIO) to organize Living Disabilities Week. During this event series they showed a film, planned a workshop on disability etiquette, hosted multiple speaking events, and organized a student/alumni/professor panel. “It really blew my expectations out in a good way,” said CAIM leader Jackson Haskell. The last time an event like this took place was in 2014, Jackson lamented, “which is honestly really crazy and sad. We are hoping to bring this event back yearly.”
Leaders of CAIM want the club to be a place of belonging for disabled students on campus. As leader Mikayala Martin told me, this mission is inherent in CAIM’s very name. The name has a “dual meaning,” she said. It comes from “an old Scots Celtic word, which means sanctuary, or circle of protection. And then each letter stands for something. Community accessibility, inclusivity, and meaning.” As Martin continued to explain, “we really want to provide that circle of sanctuary, that circle of protection for students with disabilities.”
CAIM has been holding bi-weekly meetings on new topics each month. They hope to extend the conversation on disabilities to not only people in the disabled community, but to those outside of it as well. As Martins explained, “I want to have as many non-disabled people as disabled people in these discussions, just because they have their own perceptions and perspectives that are as valid as the disabled perspective.” At the same time she said, “I want the disabled community to be able to have the focus and to have that voice because often it’s not amplified in the way it deserves…I think that balance is important.”
CAIM leaders Jackson Haskell and Mikayla Martins are both passionate about what they do. Their work has introduced important conversations for the Gordon community both for right now and in the future. If you are ever interested in learning more about disabilities or want to support your peers at Gordon who are in the disabled community, I highly recommend getting involved!
Jiu Jitsu Club
Jiu Jitsu Club is probably one of the most under-the-radar student organizations running at the moment, but its chartering last Fall was nonetheless seen as a huge success for leaders Tommy Yoon and Susan Wohlmuth. As Yoon explained to me, it took him over two years to make the Jiu Jitsu club a reality. Prior to becoming established, he said, “there was an immense amount of pushback by the board of Student Life, GCSA, and the athletic department due to the need for a coach and the guidelines for sports clubs. I was eventually able to find a coach, organize things, and submit an acceptable club proposal.”
What does one do at Jiu Jitsu Club you might ask? As Yoon elaborated, members “learn and practice basic techniques of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu led by [himself] and one of the coaches at INVICTUS training center.” Jiu Jitsu is a defensive martial art, he said, and “roughly translates to ‘the gentle art,’ meaning the ability to fight without accidentally hurting an opponent with striking or hitting.” It is especially designed for smaller people, “allowing them to be able to defend themselves against a larger, stronger opponent.”
Yoon hopes the club would be a place where people can train safely, meet new people, and learn about martial arts “all while glorifying God.” He believes that Jiu Jitsu can be a form of worship. “People may be able to build themselves up and use their bodies in creative and different ways,” he said, “using God’s creation of the body to the fullest extent manageable. In that way, the practice of Jiu Jitsu as a discipline may also be used as a way of worship.”
If you are interested in martial arts on campus, you should check out Jiu Jitsu club!
Lighthouse is a new club led by students Ayoyna Speight and Grace Powell. As Powell explained to me, Lighthouse aims to “affirm people’s identity in Christ through creative expression, encouragement, and the Word of God.” In particular, they seek to use songwriting, theater, art, creative writing, and dance to help stimulate reflection and creative conversations on what it means to be a “child of God.”
After hearing about how some people on campus were struggling with self-esteem, Speight and Powell wanted to provide a space where students can “build their confidence, creatively express themselves, and simply have fun in a loving community.” Thus far, Lighthouse has put together workshops for song-writing, theater, and creative writing. Before the semester ends, they hope to plan another event titled, “Not a Mistake,” which will discuss themes of Christian identity.
At the end of the day, said Powell, “we just want to serve and grow in our knowledge of our identity in Christ with you so we can further the mission of God on the earth.”
If you are interested in pursuing God through the creative arts, Lighthouse would be a great club for you!
Poetry Club has existed for quite some time on campus. However, it was defunct until recently. Its current leader is Luis Raoul Villalta-Santana. If you know Luis, you also know that he is eccentric, kind, and genuine. Poetry, in many ways, complements the depth of his personality.
Villalta-Santana hopes that the Poetry Club can become a place for people to “understand and think deeply about the world and God from the more intimate setting of literature.” He believes poetry can have substantial impacts for students individually. “There are many different aspects that you can take with poetry,” he said, “some of those being philosophical in your view of life and some of being practical in our reading of the Scriptures. I think that it has deep and intense value.”
They have not had many meetings so far. As Luis noted, he was thrown into the position and not given a lot of information on how to run the club. However, their largest event was a smashing success. Poetry and Tea Club combined forces for an event that had an attendance of over 50 people. Students gathered in the Tavilla Conference room for a time of tea and poetry writing. I was in attendance, and I can attest that it was a pleasant afternoon of reflection and creativity. I really enjoy how Luis facilitated the event.
Overall, Luis plans for there to be more teaching events in the future and hopes to build on the foundation he’s laid this year, so that we can “hear more student voices on campus.”
If you enjoy poetry, you might just enjoy Poetry Club.
If any budget could tell you about the success of an organization, it would be Tea Club’s. Recently chartered at the end of the Fall 2021 semester, the Tea Club’s budget went from $333 for Spring 2022, to $1,454 for next year. Either someone is mooching off the generosity of GCSA or they really do deserve it.
Considering how popular they are, it is probably the latter.
The Tea Club is headed by students Emma Carsey and Tyler Larson. As Emma told me, the club is “designed to be a space in which students from all backgrounds, majors, and cultures can come together in ‘communi-tea’ to learn about tea and the cultures around the world it has impacted.”
During the semester, the Tea Club has been hosting weekly meetings in the Tavilla Conference room. Things have been great so far, but space is becoming a problem. It is “slowly becoming too small with the increase in attendance each week,” said Carsey. Having been to a Tea Club event, I can attest: the room is FAR too small for the amount of people that are coming to their meetings. Honestly, I have never seen a new club become so popular, so fast.
During their meetings, they share presentations on tea and tea culture, play games, and facilitate conversations in conjunction with other clubs. So far, the Tea Club has collaborated with Poetry Club, Biology Club, and A.S.I.A.. Carsey believes these events will help students “meet new people and learn something along the way.”
If tea is your thing (or even if it’s not), go to Tea Club for a fun time.
Make sure to be on the lookout for events from CAIM, Jiu Jitsu Club, Lighthouse, Poetry Club, and Tea Club. Support them if you can!
Ortiz, Tania. “Student organizations struggle with participation during the pandemic.” The Cougar Chronicle, 27 February 2021, https://csusmchronicle.com/21378/opinion/student-organizations-struggle-with-participation-during-the-pandemic/. Accessed 24 April 2022.
Pettijohn, Gabriella. “OPINION: The student involvement problem on campus.” The Wichitan, 18 October 2021, https://thewichitan.com/71274/op-ed/opinion-the-student-involvement-problem-on-campus/. Accessed 24 April 2022.
Williams, Austin. “Clubs struggle to recover from the pandemic – Six Mile Post.” Six Mile Post, 31 January 2022, https://sixmilepost.com/10166/news/georgia-highlands-clubs-struggle-to-recover-from-the-pandemic/. Accessed 24 April 2022.
Categories: Student Life