What it Takes to Start a Club at Fordham

Members of United Student Government present Special Olympics Club with the Club of the Month Award

Next fall, students at Fordham will find that there are a few more options to choose from when signing up for clubs at the club fair.

Fordham already boasts over 100 clubs, but students are always encouraged to start their own should they find the need. This year, the operations committee, which is in charge of approving new clubs as well as amendments to old club constitutions, reviewed twenty-four new club submissions and approved eight.

As we have heard from founders of different clubs — Danielle Dixon of the Fordham Jetés, and Erin Biggins of Special Olympics Fordham — starting a club is neither easy nor quick.

As the operations committee outlines on its website, starting a club is a long process with multiple steps. Before the submission is considered for revision, the club founder must prepare a constitution, find an advisor, and have officers and an interested members list.

After submission, it is a four step process to eventually get the club approved, which can take several months to complete. According to Dixon and Biggins, the longest part of the process is the first two steps — making changes to a club constitution and operations committee review.

Spring explained why these steps took such a long time, “the beginning is a long pending period depending on how many submissions are in line”. As Biggins explains, it took her a full year before she was even assigned a point person from the operations committee to help revise her constitution.

Paul Sampson, a member of the operations committee is one of the students that is assigned to review and revise the constitution of a club submission. This year he worked with five clubs, two of which had amendments for their existing constitution and three which were new. Only one of these three submissions was denied.

Sampson states the most common reasons for denial in this phase of the process are: a vague purpose that could be fulfilled with other clubs or organizations, concerns about the continuity of the club, and a narrow focus or scope of activity, “When we deny them its usually that the need has already been fulfilled somewhere on campus. Another reason might be because the need is already fulfilled by a club.”

This first step is also where many club submissions are denied. Sampson references the reasons above as the most popular for club denial. He said, “There can be a perfectly formatted and worded constitution, but it can easily not go though” due to one of the reasons Sampson mentioned earlier.

Yet, Spring does not identify constitution revision as the longest part of the club approval process. He identifies approval by the dean of students as “the longest part of the process. Because as you can imagine, he has a plethora of other things to do.” Spring says approval from Dean Rogers can take anywhere from one to two months.

The operations committee works under the umbrella of the United Student Government

After Dean Rogers approval, according to Spring, it is pretty smooth sailing from there. The club goes to a vote for final approval by the United Student Government and the student founder of the club can present his or her ideas about the club before the vote. A club has never been denied in this stage of the process.

As we heard from club founders, this entire process can take over a year. For Biggins, it took longer than that.

Compared to other Jesuit Universities, the club approval process at Fordham is very long. On their website, Boston College states that the entire process only takes up to 2 or 3 months.

This year, the operations committee approved eight new clubs, including Women’s Empowerment which has been under review for four years.