Design by Ryan Scott.

Design by Ryan Scott.

By Alex Bacon/The AS Review

Five people with a common interest and a little bit of time is all it takes to start an AS club.

“It’s really, really easy [to start a club],” said Casey Hayden, Student Activities adviser. “We at Western make the club system really accessible to students. The whole process could be done in one week.”

As of last spring quarter, there were 228 different clubs recognized by the Associated Students, according to Hayden.  He expects roughly two-thirds of those to renew and about 70 to 80 new clubs to form this year.  So far, 10 new clubs have been recognized this year.

The first step to starting a club is coming up with an idea and finding four other people that want to join.  There are very few limitations for club content; however, clubs cannot be too similar to an already existing club, they cannot be dangerous and they can’t be grossly inappropriate.  Whether or not a club is dangerous is determined by Hayden and the University Risk Management office.  An example Hayden gave of a club that might be turned down because it is too dangerous is a skydiving club.

The next step to starting a club is getting an AS Clubs and Organizations Recognition Process packet.  These packets can be found online at the AS clubs Web site, at the Viking Union 5th floor Information Desk or from Hayden in his office in Viking Union 431.  Soon, many of the forms will be found only online in an effort to save paper, according to Andrea Thomas, Viking Union information coordinator.

The packets have information about the recognition procedure, regulations and resources available.  The final page, the Recognition Request Form, is for signatures, a statement of purpose and member information.  A minimum of five students have to sign with an e-mail and phone number as well as confirm that they are current Western students.  This information can be submitted online or on paper.

After the recognition packet has been completed, the next move for a budding club is to meet with Hayden.  In this meeting, Hayden goes over resources and services available to clubs and signs off on the request form.  He also asks what the club is going to bring to Western’s campus.

After the form is signed by Hayden, it needs to be submitted to AS Vice President for Activities Colin Watrin in VU 504, by 5 p.m. on any Wednesday.  If the deadline is met, the club request will be placed on the AS Activities Council agenda for the next meeting.

At least one of the founding members of the group needs to attend this meeting to tell the AS Activities Council about the club.  The council will want to know what the purpose of the club is and how funding will be used, if it is requested.  If there’s already a similar club, a demonstration of how the new club will be different is needed.

The AS Activities Council will vote for or against the club.  Thomas said clubs are “usually approved unless it’s really inappropriate, but it’s rare [to not be approved].”

Hayden could only remember once that a club hadn’t been approved in the last four years and it was because there was already a club very similar to the one the students were trying to start.

Once a club is recognized by the AS Activities Council, the leaders of the club will go through a club orientation.  They will be shown how to use resources available to them and, if the club is receiving funding, how to access the funding and request more if needed.

As new clubs and organizations form, they are given the option to request $50 of basic funding.  According to Hayden, this funding comes from the AS Activities Council, which in turn gets the money from the Services and Activities Fee that is included with tuition. Additional funding for specific needs or events may be applied for, as well.

Funding is available to all clubs except religious and limited membership organizations.  According to Watrin, the reason that religious organizations cannot receive funding is due to separation of church and state.  The reason limited membership clubs can’t get funding is because they aren’t open to all students, and “since all student[s] pay fees they should be able to utilize the resources that are funded by those fees.”

There are many resources other than funding available to Western clubs.

“[Clubs can access] advising, meetings spaces, funding options, publicity training and much more,” Watrin said.
These include phones, mailboxes, a copy machine, fax machine, space in Vendors Row or Red Square, banner making supplies and use of the AS Publicity Center.  Thomas said clubs can reserve classrooms or rooms in the VU for meetings and activities as well.