Whether you like your steaks rare, medium or well-done, UC Merced has a spot for you in one of its 74 clubs and organizations, including the Meat Club, dedicated to the virtues of barbecue.
In just two years, beginning with the founding of the Vanguard Engineering Club, UC Merced has established more clubs and organizations than many larger institutions, said Enrique Guzman, Student Life coordinator.
The campus’s diverse organizations include seven different Christian, Moslem and Jewish faith-based groups. Representatives of these faiths recently formed an inter-faith religious council to enhance students’ spiritual lives.
UC Merced also offers outlets for various ethnic groups and those interested in learning about them: African American, Chinese, French, Japanese, Latino, Pakistani, Filipino, South Asian and Vietnamese.
Each is helping educate people about its culture, as Asian clubs did recently with the Lunar New Year Festival, which featured demonstrations by the Martial Arts Club, too.
Students with political interests might join the College Republicans or the Green Club. Democrats might have to work a bit harder – no Democratic Party organization exists, though there is a “Students for Obama” group.
“I guess the students haven´t felt there is the need for one,” Guzman said.
Part of pioneering a new campus like UC Merced is getting to start your own clubs and organizations, and all you have to do is pick up a packet at the Office of Student Life and have a minimum of four club members.
Last year, students petitioned to add sororities and fraternities, Guzman said. After about 150 students signed a request to institute Greek life, a committee formed. It will make a recommendation by May 15; UC Merced might see its first sororities or fraternities this fall.
Studies have shown that those who belong to groups in college continue their interests in these organizations and tend to volunteer more in the community after they leave college.
“Because of my foundation (in college groups) I have always been very active in volunteering,” Guzman said. He serves on the board of Merced’s Boys & Girls Club and has worked with Habitat for Humanity, among others.
Students also have a chance to give something to those in need with the upcoming Celebrating Community event on April 7. Students will help community agencies that need volunteers, such as convalescent homes and soup kitchens.
“Clubs are a very critical and important element of college life,” Guzman said. “They help students become great leaders.”