The university experience is more than just a four-and-a-half year job-training party. It’s about life experience, making connections and getting the most out of college tuition. A great way to enhance the college experience is to join a campus-affiliated club. Not just for band geeks and math whizzes, the Associated Students of the University of Nevada clubs provide opportunities for those who wish to meet other students who share a variety of interests and backgrounds. And with more than 150 different topics, there is likely something for everyone. From obscure groups like the Lumberjack Team and the Taco Night Club to mainstream unions like the College Republicans and Black Student Organization, it would be hard not to find a group to feel at home with.

According to Carly Sweder, the vice president of clubs and organizations, students who participate in the clubs have a greater likelihood of succeeding in school.

“Students who have ties like this to the school are twice as likely to graduate,” Sweder says. “It’s an outlet for them to think about things other than studying.”

With 250 members, the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship is by far the largest group on campus. It is made of 17 small Bible-study groups that meet two days a week and a Thursday-night worship session with local missionaries, pastors and speakers. All 250 members attend the Thursday night meetings, which are held at the Jot Travis Student Union. In addition to weekly meetings, the club has special events such as rock star bowling night, sledding trips to Tahoe and a yearly trip to Catalina Island to study the Book of Mark.

“It’s a chance for students to grow spiritually while in school,” Sweder says. “This is something a lot of kids were used to being around before they left home, but it doesn’t have to end with college.”

The Black Student Organization is one of the longest-lived clubs on campus. On campus for more than 30 years, the BSO has about 35 members and serves as a family unit away from home.

“Lots of African Americans don’t see many familiar faces when they come to campus for the first time,” Johnell Cropper, the president of the club says. “We are a close-knit group that provides that type of close-knit interaction.” The club has weekly meetings and regular functions around the community, like talent shows and open-mic nights. The club also runs the concessions at Nevada football games and men’s basketball games. But, Cropper says, the BSO doesn’t want to get pigeonholed as a blacks-only organization. “We have students of all races join us. We have Asians, Mexicans and Caucasians showing up to our meetings all the time.”

The Lumberjack Team is comprised largely of students studying natural resources and agriculture. They meet to learn skills such as tree cutting, timber marking and wilderness-management techniques. The club, which has been active on campus for about 15 years, also participates in an annual competition where students from around the country compare their skills at tree identification, log rolling, ax throwing and wood chopping.

Josh Vittori, the president of the club, says it’s a great opportunity for students to try something new. “Of the hundreds of clubs on campus, ours is one of the few preserving an American tradition and trying something completely different.”

For craft-minded students looking for something new, the Kraft and Scrap Klub might be a hot ticket. Low maintenance and fun, this club meets every two weeks to construct scrapbooks of personal pictures and other artistic trinkets that can be used around the community. Last year, the club made clay Christmas ornaments as gifts for the women at the battered-women’s shelter.

Those looking to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15,” the Wolfpack Triathlon Club might be the answer. With more than 30 participants, the club meets three times a week to train in the Lombardi Recreation Pool and on the bikes in the gym, and on the track at Mackay Stadium. At the end of the year, the group travels to the Collegiate National Championships Triathlon in Central California where members compete against schools from all over the Western United States.

For politically minded students, the possibilities are nearly endless. On the left, there are progressive-minded organizations such as the Young Democrats and Nevada Blue, a left-leaning campus newspaper designed to push democratic ideals to Nevada students. The Young Democrats meet on campus occasionally with barbecues and informational booths where students can learn about liberal ideology. On the right are the College Republicans and the Pack Patriot, a conservative monthly newspaper distributed around campus. These clubs run events similar to the Young Democrats but stage theme days such as “Conservative Coming Out Day,” and “The Tunnel of Conservative Oppression,” which highlights what group members say are liberal biases on the university campus. Both student-run newspapers act as clubs and are open to anyone wishing to write, photograph or help design a publication.

All campus clubs and organizations are free of charge, and many receive funding from the ASUN. Anyone can start a club, but funding requires participation.

You have nothing to lose, Sweder says. “It brings you together with the university and doubles your chances of graduating.”

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