Opinion: Small student organizations matter too

With over 600 organizations on campus, there’s plenty of niches to explore.


Jenna Galligan

Dylan Montigney talks about Japan’s esports scene at an interview in the Iowa Memorial Union on Monday, December 10, 2018. (Jenna Galligan/The Daily Iowan)

Peyton Downing, Columnist

Many student organizations have kickstarted their activities for the semester. Members have sent recruitment emails and held kickoff events. It’s easy for many groups, especially smaller ones, to be overlooked. While there are plenty of clubs with large memberships, less mainstream groups deserve attention as well.

Student organizations are a phenomenal way of meeting people and expanding your horizons. Without them, college would just be studying, going to parties, and maybe talking to a couple of people in your classes. There are so many possibilities and interests available to explore when looking through organizations that there is a club for practically everybody. 

Do you like video games but don’t know anyone who enjoys what you like? There’s Esports at Iowa. It’s not just for hardcore gamer dude bros; it’s also for people who just want to chill with friends and play video games. Want to get more specific than that? Maybe have it be about your favorite MOBA game? There’s the League of Legends Club. Is it not just enough to play video games? Do you hope to design your own games? Epx studio has you covered. The group is willing to take in anyone, no matter a person’s major or background.

But there’s more to life than playing video games. The Board Game Club offers a more tactile entertainment experience. Removed from competition, there’s the Fight Inclined Student Thespians, if fake fighting is your thing.

Of course, that’s not an exhaustive list; there are niches for every student.

Maybe you’re not looking for a hobby to indulge in — you’re looking for something more impactful. There are plenty of political student organizations. The Roosevelt Network is a student-run advocacy group that pushes nonpartisan policies for both county governments and state legislatures.

“Every year, we find and work on public policy ideas that are important to us,” Roosevelt Network member Laura Widman said. “We talk to the change agents in our communities to figure out the best way to deal with issues that we’ve found, and then write policy around that.”

Last year, the Roosevelt Network submitted a policy written by members Emily Miranda, Rebecca Lyons, and Ganon Evans that was then published by the Roosevelt Institute — the larger, national apparatus of the Roosevelt Group. Members are now working to get this legislation passed in the Iowa Legislature.

If the vast array of niche clubs doesn’t suit your fancy, there is always the option of creating your own student organization. It’s surprisingly easy to do — so easy that a student named Ben Lewis made a fan club for himself. Does it do anything? No, but the fact that it exists shows that the University of Iowa has given students plenty of room to express themselves.

Even if you join a student organization and find out that you don’t like it, it’s not as though you’re forced to return. There aren’t any contractual obligations you sign saying that you must keep going when you’re not enjoying yourself. Organizations exist for you to be social and enjoy yourself.

Even if it never pans out, it’s important to experience what college life has to offer. With such an assortment of different activities to try, there’s bound to be something that piques your interest.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.