Club Transition and What You Should Know

Student life is alive and kicking on campus. More new clubs are sprouting each year, and, contrary to popular (dis)belief, students at U of T actually go out and do things like - no, not study - like... Like go out! And have fun! Every year, we have tons of events and initiatives started and run by people like you and me. That's the amazing thing about student life. But can you imagine the amount of planning and thought that goes into putting a club together and running it throughout the year? For old and new clubs alike, the summer holidays is when club leaders do their paper work and planning. Transition is a long and tedious process, but it helps make sure that the club full of awesome during the year. I'm in the process of wrapping up my own club's transition from the old exec to the new exec. It's not as simple as just saying "There you go! Huzzah!" (though I wish very very much that that were so). I wanted to share some reminders and things to keep in mind as clubs - whether you're a veteran group or looking to start a new one - get ready for the new school year! Hopefully  I don't miss anything. Lezgo!

1. Apply for club recognition.  On the St. George campus, you need to apply for recognition in two places - UTSU and ULife. What's the difference? ULife recognition is done through U of T's Office of Student Life. You get UTSU recognition, which helps you get funding from the union. You should do both. Both recognition processes need to be done every year - think of it as renewing a license. UTSU recognition happens in June while ULife recognition happens in September. 2. Check your finances. 
Very important if your club is planning on being financially ambitious.
Reality dictates that in order to run a club, you need money to do it. Fortunately, booking campus space is free most of the time, save for special days or holiday/weekend rates. UTSU also provides club funding if you choose to apply for it - which is why it's so important to apply for recognition! Make sure you know where your money is, and who's in charge of it. This usually falls under the jurisdiction of your club's treasurer and the signing officers. The signing officers are necessary especially when you keep your club money at one of the banks around campus that works with student clubs. Those accounts are called community accounts, and have multiple safeguards - like having more than one signing officer - to protect against mutiny. Okay, maybe not mutiny. It does help with accountability and transparency though, which are very important if you want to have your club running like a well-oiled machine. It is also important to establish good budgeting practices. Treasurers everywhere - I know it's tedious to record everything as soon as it happens but trust me when I say it will make life a lot easier come June, and you need to present your budget to get the final installment of your UTSU funding. Trust me. 3. Plan! Plan! Plan! What my (old) board and I did was come up with a year plan, divided into semester and month. It can be a chronological list or you can print out blank calenders and fill out dates accordingly. My club did both. The list was just a long list of events we know are going to happen or want to make happen from August to  May. The calendars were made and planned semester by semester - once in August for Fall term, and end of December for Winter term. It's less overwhelming and much more realistic if you break it down. When you have your list or calendar, fill it in with things you know are going to happen first. It's a good idea to fill in holidays, exam dates and annual events that you know your club is going to do. Then fill in meetings - if you can't pinpoint an exact date, highlight the week it's going to happen. My club meetings are biweekly, so this was especially important for me. Now that you've got the dates set, mark down when you're going to start planning/organizing/mobilizing to make those events a reality. It can be as simple as a reminder for so-and-so to buy cookies for this particular meeting, or as extensive as multiple dates spread over three months assigned to many people for a giant charity gala you are planning. Most important: Be realistic and make sure everyone knows that there needs to be room for flexibility. We're students. Things happen that might make it hard for some to meet a deadline or attend an event. Keep in mind that, at this point in the summer, no one really knows their exam and assignment schedule. 4. Don't forget Clubs Day.  Clubs Day is organized by UTSU every year and is the time to get your club out there. Froshies will be led there by their frosh leaders, eager and bright-eyed. That means you need to put your best food forward. Basics would include having some sort of display, some pamphlets (keeping in mind the amount of paper you're using) and a sign-up sheet. By Clubs Day, you should have the location, date and time of your first meeting set so that potential new members can come out and see what your club is all about. This year, UTSU is having two Clubs Days. Twice the fun! Remember to register ASAP. Seasoned club leaders, do you have anything else to add? New club execs, do you have any questions, comments, concerns? Share them in the comments below! - Crystal


4 comments on “Club Transition and What You Should Know

  1. Really helpful tips, I didn’t realize how hard it is to be a part of a club till I joined the exec team of one, still learning orz…and thx a lot for sharing Crystal!! btw is there any other ways to look for funding in uoft, apart from UTSU and the Good Idea fund of Hart House?

    1. Hi Bd,

      I don’t know of any other ways to get funding. However, if you are affiliated with a college, then they might have something for you.

      Clubs are expected to find ways to fundraise for themselves. There’s just not a lot of money to go around 🙁 But remember, you can still get things done even if funding is short. If you need food or specific supplies, considering forming partnerships with clubs on campus that do that, or getting sponsors from businesses around campus.

      Good luck with your club!

      – Crystal

  2. I’m a first-year student at UTSG looking to join some new clubs and meeting new people, as the last couple of months has been fairly lonely. However, I find that a lot of clubs are either inactive, not accepting new members, meet infrequently, or not welcoming towards newcomers. Do you have recommendations as to which clubs are worth joining, i.e. meet frequently, close-knit but welcoming? I have a variety of new interests and open to trying new things. Thanks.

  3. Hey! I’m sorry to hear that. There are a lot of opportunities available on campus to get involved. It is true, that some aren’t active – but here are a few suggestions, but a lot are:

    – UTSU, College Councils and Course Unions are probably the most active groups on campus. If you’re passionate about representation or just want to make things better for your fellow students, then these groups are for you. UTSU also has various commissions dealing with other issues like equity and social justice. These commissions, as well as the councils and the course unions meet quite frequently, so its a lot of time, but it’s worth it. From being on a student union, I can tell you that it really helped me to meet a lot of people from across our campus. Within colleges as well, there are smaller tight knit college specific groups.

    – Campus media. If you’re passionate about writing; there’s The Varsity, the newspaper and the college newspapers. If video editing interests you, then there’s UTTV. These are also great, I know from my experience at the Varsity, by writing for a campus media outlet, you get to know the campus a lot better and consequently meet a lot more people.

    – Groups based on ethnicity or religion. These tend to be the biggest clubs on campus, religious groups like the Muslim Students. Assoc, Power 2 Change, the Hindu Students Council, Hillel and ethnicity based groups like the Greek Students Assoc, the Tamil Students Assoc, etc. tend to have a LOT of members and tend to be really active and hold many events. Plus, from my experience they tend to be close knit and welcoming. As per the University and the UTSU’s equity policies, anybody can join these groups.

    Those are the biggest groups. However, it doesn’t end there — it all depends on what your interest is. If you’re passionate about something, I’m sure you can find a club that shares the same passion and is just as active. Yes, there are a lot of skeletal inactive clubs – but there are also plenty of active ones that aren’t necessarily large. Don’t fret. My first semester at U of T was a boring, inactive one as well. You’ll find your niche. 🙂

    go blues go.

    – Abdullah

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