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ASU's clubs: Of the students, by the students and for the students


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February 19, 2016

There are many different ways for Sun Devils to get involved at ASU. From clubs to sports to student government, virtually every aspect of college life is accounted for.

ASU has more than 1,000 student clubs across its campuses — everything from the Sun Devil Riders motorcycle club to the Hammock Club.

To start a club one must have at least three members, a club constitution containing no clauses of exclusion, and a faculty or staff adviser, and they must create an online application portfolio to be approved by the Office of Student Organizations. After these steps are completed, the club must send one member to an information seminar detailing what is and isn’t permissible for ASU clubs/organizations.

Danny Ober-Reynolds, 22, is co-president of the Undergraduate Philosophy Club and is working on a triple major in economics, philosophy and mathematics. 

Sophomore philosophy major Alexander Brittain explains the Grandfather Paradox — the paradox that would be created if you created a machine to travel back in time and killed your grandfather before he had children, thus preventing your own birth and your invention of the time machine — as members of the

“I would say it’s a bit of a challenge organizing so many people with different academic backgrounds into this club, but we always try to make the club accessible and low-key. We don’t have any formal membership process,” Ober-Reynolds said.

He said his varied academic background helps him run the club, with many of the topics his club discusses deriving from books he has read for other classes. One of his favorite topics is philosophy of science.

“I joined [the philosophy club] my freshman year and since then the format hasn’t changed much,” Ober-Reynolds said. “We vary in our regularly attending membership, and this year enrollment is up by about five to 10 people.”

Members of the philosophy club typically start their meeting by selecting a speaker and having said speaker outline the steps of their argument on a massive whiteboard. The speaking member presents his or her case, using examples from films, literature and authority figures in the world of philosophy to support the argument. Other members often interject during the presentation with objections to the logic of the speaker, or with requests of clarification on a particular element of the case.    

Another prominent club at ASU is the Transdisciplinary Undergraduate Research Network, or TURN. The focus of TURN is to launch explorations and spur innovation in engaged undergraduate researchers. Sophomore Ruth Farington and junior Kayna Lantz serve as officers in the club.

“We’re based off the principles that ASU has people from different disciplines who have a way of looking at scenarios differently,” Farington said. “They’re able to tackle a situation in the way that fits best for them. That in turn will make our club better suited for every type of person at ASU.”

Farington emphasized the usefulness of her club for students involved in research and those who would like to be involved in research in the future.

“I think the most rewarding part of this club is taking a step back from our routines,” Lantz said. “In our regular life we have our majors and our classes and we fall into the same ways of thought over and over. Every now and then I think it’s important to take a step back from that. At TURN, we provide the potential to share knowledge and expose people to different ways of thinking.”

Farington said the reason she and Lantz wanted to start TURN was because they wanted to allow undergraduates to capitalize on all the different disciplines that are present at ASU, and that TURN is allowing students to merge those disciplines together at an earlier stage.

Other groups try to have students help the environment.

The Campus Student Sustainability Initiative's (CSSI) mission is to lead the ASU community in projects and initiatives that inspire environmental, economical and social sustainability. Senior sustainability major Olga Borquez and sophomore marketing/data analytics major Madeleine Bertch are the leading officers of the club.

“At our meetings we talk about programs like our Pe’d-Off initiative, which is our effort to replace all the men’s toilets on campus with low-water fixtures,” Borquez said. “It is just one of the five projects that CSSI is currently working on.”

Bertch said she was drawn to the club because of how project-oriented it was.

“I started with CSSI in the fall of 2014, which was when we first started working on the Pe’d-Off initiative. We saw that the MU [Memorial Union] has some of the heaviest foot traffic on campus and there are so many gallons of water that have been wasted there, so we decided to make a change,” she said.

Among the most prominent of CSSI’s projects is Up to Us, which is focused on raising awareness for the national debt through community events such as working tables at farmers markets and around campus. Up to Us views the national debt as tied to sustainability because the burden of paying it off will fall on future generations. The club's work is paying off: Among the 60 universities involved in Up to US, ASU ranks second in pledges.

Top photo: Sustainability graduate student Jason Zeikowtiz (right) poses for a photo with campus visitor Vilas Pendse to promote the Campus Student Sustainability Initiative student club's missions on the Tempe campus on Feb. 18. Photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

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