A rewarding college experience encompasses far more than classes and academic challenge. The full experience of going to college is found with a well-rounded approach to college life. Getting involved on campus is key to this pursuit.
Most college campuses have a wide variety of student organizations, sororities and fraternities, intramurals and volunteer opportunities. Some campuses even have weird clubs for students who are seeking a unique time.
When you join a campus organization, you'll meet new friends, gain practical experience, learn about leadership and have something tangible to list on your resume. Start by going to an activities fair, usually held at the beginning of the semester, to check out all of the possibilities. Most student organizations even provide treats at their first meeting as a way to entice new members to join. The great thing about joining a college student organization is that you don’t need special skills to be a member. Bring your interest, willingness to contribute and an open mind, and you'll be surprised at the fun to be had. If you don’t find a student organization that interests you, you can even form your own.
The following are some of the weirdest clubs at college campuses you can join across the country.
Do you like people-watching? Students at the University of Minnesota love it so much that they started a club called the Campus People Watchers. This student organization plans activities that center on the observation of people from a psychological and analytical perspective. Devoid of creepiness, the Campus People Watchers studies organizational culture by examining the behavior of others. Members of the Campus People Watchers even write reports to reflect upon what they've learned. This sociological approach to fun is a popular student involvement option. The Campus People Watchers was founded in 2008 by a student who was a political science major. In addition to observing people on campus, they also venture out to large community events like the St. Paul St. Patrick’s Day Parade or visit the Mall of America.
The University of Minnesota has more than 800 clubs and organizations that encourage student involvement. Five enrolled students can start a group by creating a constitution and securing a faculty or staff advisor.
The Nerd Network
Founded in 2010, the Nerd Network at Appalachian State University in North Carolina is a distinct student organization with the sole purpose of bringing together nerdy people. The organization’s biggest event is called NerdCon and features vendors, panel discussions, a cosplay contest, video gaming and a lip sync battle. The Nerd Network is a group that encourages students to be open and display their individual uniqueness. Shared interests include anime, comics, science fiction and video gaming. The group meets every other week in the Student Union.
There are more than 400 recognized student organizations at Appalachian State University. Any student can start an organization with a little hard work and determination. In addition to a charter application, a new student organization can be formed with a minimum of 10 students, a campus advisor and a student organization constitution. Recognized student organizations receive leadership development training, the ability to reserve campus space and access to supplies and other campus resources.
Clown Nose Club
Spreading happiness and creating spontaneous joy is the mission of the Clown Nose Club at Pennsylvania State University. It all started in 2010 when Penn State student Chad Littlefield was handed a clown nose in the student union by a visiting artist. Chad wanted to create a culture that encouraged social interaction and campus camaraderie. He gathered together other students who shared his interest, and a new organization was born. The Clown Nose Club adopted “positive social risk” as their motto, and this is just what the group strives to do. Each semester, members of the group create new ways to make people on campus feel happy. Giving spontaneous gifts, serenading faculty or delivering homemade cookies are just a few of the things they've done to bring goodwill to hard-working campus community members.
The Penn State campuses have more than 1,000 student organizations. Starting a new organization requires special paperwork, a faculty/staff advisor, a constitution and at least 10 registered students. Organizations have access to resources like funding, meeting rooms and facilities and an organizational web page.
The Squirrel Club
At the University of Michigan, there's a club that's devoted to feeding squirrels. The Squirrel Club even sells T-shirts to raise funds to buy peanuts for their furry friends. T-shirts feature the phrase “Michigan Squirrels” in the school colors of blue and gold. Using a special feeding technique, members of the Squirrel Club use the opportunity to feed squirrels as a way to connect with one another and enjoy the outdoor environment. The Squirrel Club was founded in 2002 with just five members and is now one of the largest organizations on campus with more than 400 registered members.
Boasting more than 1,400 student organizations, the University of Michigan encourages students to get involved on campus. A new organization can be formed with a minimum of 10 members, a campus advisor and a constitution that outlines the purpose and operating guidelines for the group. All student organizations at the University of Michigan must undergo leadership development training.
The Concrete Canoe Team
Did you know that concrete can float? The engineering students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison figured that out and even started a team to practice their craft. Using civil, chemical, mechanical, electrical and geological engineering principles, members of the Concrete Canoe Team build canoes out of concrete and race their canoes at competitions held across the country. In fact, they've won the national competition seven times during their existence. Well-organized members of the Concrete Canoe Team design canoes, write research papers about their work and present the information at conferences and competitions. In addition to having fun, engineering students gain valuable practical experience and work with one another to raise money and gain sponsors for their award-winning canoes.
The University of Wisconsin in Madison has more than 900 student organizations. If you want to form a student organization at the institution, you'll need a constitution that demonstrates how the mission of the organization is related to campus life at the University of Wisconsin. Seventy-five percent of the members must be registered students, and you'll need to complete a compliance agreement.
Shire of Grey Gargoyles
The Shire of Grey Gargoyles is a student organization at the University of Chicago. This organization is a society for creative anachronism that spends their time participating in medieval reenactments. Group activities include medieval dance, sword fighting, glassblowing and Renaissance play. Each member chooses a medieval name and assumes a character that's historical in nature. They make their own costumes and hold events like the Midrealm. Two highlights of this event include the coronation of a queen and king and a procession of group members in regalia. Group members work together to make history come alive each time they meet.
The University of Chicago has more than 450 organizations available for students to join. Students can form unique organizations like the Shire of Grey Gargoyles by filling out an application and submitting bylaws or operating guidelines. Voting members must be registered students, and all students must be free to join the group.
The Hammock Club
Calvin College is home to the Hammock Club. This student organization encourages students with hammocks to build community together while swinging from trees and rafters. In addition to meeting new friends and wearing matching T-shirts, the Hammock Club has spontaneous and planned events that involve hammocking. Often, the Hammock Club officers use social media to inform members about a time and location for collective hammocking. In the winter, they'll even find creative places to hammock indoors.
Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Calvin College has a total enrollment of 3,840. Involvement is central to the student experience, and this is evident in the more than 100 organizations available for students to join. It takes just three members and a faculty or staff advisor to begin a new student organization at Calvin College.
The Tiddlywinks Society
Long ago, the game of tiddlywinks was a favorite pastime of students at Harvard, but just recently, a group of students started a new group called the Tiddlywinks Society. This student organization plays the game for fun, but they also engage in competitive play with other universities. The game is played with winks that are small discs, a squidger that propels the discs, a mat that serves as the game surface and a pot to hold the discs. No previous experience is necessary to join the club. The game and requisite skills are taught during meetings and practices.
Harvard has a plethora of student organizations to choose from, but new groups are formed every year. It takes 10 undergraduate students and an official advisor to begin the process of forming a new student organization. A constitution that describes how the organization will function is also required as a part of the application process.
Students for an Orwellian Society
A national group, the Students for an Orwellian Society originated at Columbia University in 2004. This student group has a political focus and serves as a way for students to compare current events to those that were expressed by George Orwell in his book "1984." The Students for an Orwellian Society use a variety of mediums including flyers, posters, T-shirts and social media to promote political awareness and spark an edgy conversation about issues they feel should be changed. They have a reading list of political books and engage in activist-oriented activities on campus and in the broader community.
Columbia University serves as host to more than 500 student organizations. There are four different governing councils for student organizations and each has a different method for recognizing new groups. Students interested in forming a new group should contact the appropriate governing board and follow the guidelines for recognition.
The Assassins' Guild
A standout group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Assassins’ Guild is an organization that involves students in live-action play centering on dart gun fights. Players assume characters in a fantasy world based in an alternative universe. Some games focus on the historical past and others are set in the future. In addition to making new friends, student members are assigned specific tasks, and the goal is to determine friend from foe and use dart guns to remain protected. Some games even use the Society for Interactive Killing format.
MIT features more than 450 recognized student organizations that provide fun and out-of-class learning. New groups must have a stated purpose of enrichment for the campus community along with special paperwork like the anti-hazing and membership confirmation form. Approved groups receive their own website and access to campus resources.
- University of Minnesota: Campus People Watchers
- Appalachian Campus News: Appalachian Nerd Network hosts 6thAnnual NerdCon
- University of Michigan: The Squirrel Club
- University of Wisconsin Madison: Concrete Canoe Team
- Canton Grey Gargoyles: Home
- Calvin College: Start a Student Organization
- Harvard: The Tiddlywinks Society
- MIT: The MIT Assassins’ Guild
- The Daily Collegian: Students ‘clown’ in seeking smiles in Clown Nose club
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.