Academic and special interest clubs connect students

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BYUSA Photo and the BYU College Republican club
A variety of clubs meet on campus each week to participate in academic association clubs, such as the BYU College Republican club (bottom), and special interest clubs such as the karate club and break dancing club. (Top, BYUSA photo; bottom, the College Republican Club) 

BYU has over 200 recognized clubs on campus. Academic associations are housed in individual academic departments, and special interest clubs are sponsored by BYUSA, according to Darren Hinton, the clubs coordinator for BYUSA Clubs.

Special interest clubs (BYUSA clubs)

Hinton said BYUSA clubs help students find people who have similar interests. These clubs are called special interest clubs because they allow students to be involved in areas outside of academics.

Hinton said each year the number of clubs remain constant because there is an even flow of clubs disbanding and new clubs being recognized on campus. He encourages all students to get involved in a BYUSA club so they can make connections and have a worthwhile college experience.

Left to right: BYU students Mitch Coutu, Yunnie Kim, Cristina Collazos, and Garrett Stoker participate in BYU’s Hip Hop club. (Justin Roedel)

BYUSA Clubs Vice President Stetson Bartschi said the specialty clubs focus on special interests outside of academics.

“Special interests clubs allow students to pursue interests outside of the normal avenues and are a place for students to develop their talents which would otherwise go unrecognized,” Bartschi said. “We seek to bring students together where they can enjoy similar interests and find their niche in the university.”

BYUSA clubs provide activity nights for special interest club members to get involved and meet people. 

Clubs Night is held every Tuesday night in the Wilkinson Student Center and involves over over 1000 students each week, according to Bartschi.

Academic associations

Kristen Thompson, the administrative assistant over all academic associated clubs, said all clubs approved to become an academic association must have a direct tie to a specific campus department or program.

Academic associations include clubs like the BYU College Republicans, clubs associated with the Marriott School of Management and the Engineering club.

“Membership in these organizations generally consists of students in a particular major or program,” Thompson said. “Academic associations also can be a chapter of a national honor society or a professional organization.”

Thompson said a student academic association needs support from the sponsoring department or program and approval from the corresponding dean’s office. The adviser must be a full-time BYU employee from that college.

“Student academic associations are an excellent way to network and find other students who are interested in the same major,” Thompson said. “(They’re) also a place to start to apply some of the content that students are learning in their classrooms.”

Thompson said some of BYU’s academic clubs are student chapters of national professional organizations. She said these organizations provide opportunities for students to make connections to professionals in their field of choice.

Starting a club on campus and getting involved

Students who want to start a BYUSA club can apply online. The application requires students to describe what the new club will do at club activities and what it’s purpose will be, according to Hinton.

BYUSA monitors the special interest club if it gets approved.

The approval process may take as little as a week or two to as long as a couple of months. Students may apply at anytime to create a club.

“Once the club is approved, BYUSA will go through the process of making it a club. We’ll sit down with the club president and talk about rules and regulation,” Hinton said. “Each new club will also receive a club packet, $250 to start the club and a banner create to put up around campus.”

There are currently 108 recognized BYUSA clubs on campus and 133 recognized academic associations. To get involved or to start a club, visit the BYU clubs website.

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