Stuyvesant Clubs: 101

What the process of making and leading clubs is like at Stuy.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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By Sophia Li

As a school with over 200 clubs, one can argue that Stuyvesant’s got it all. From those that teach students about the art of Chinese yo-yoing to ones focused on calisthenics, rocketry, and even lettuce-eating, it seems like every possible club that could exist, does exist. Yet, new clubs are still constantly being introduced to the student body.

One such club is the Stuy Papercrafts Club. “During freshman year, I attended the interest meetings for clubs or other activities. My interest in those other activities was never very high though, and I quickly found myself becoming bored during those meetings,” sophomore and founder of Stuy Papercrafts Club Gloria Lee said. She then decided to create her own club focused on what she loved: papercrafts. She was then able to work on something she was truly passionate about and meet others who felt the same way.

Sophomore Ethan Brovender, co-founder of Stuyvesant’s Minecraft club, echoed these feelings: “In the Minecraft club, we play and talk about Minecraft. We put our heads together to try to squeeze the most fun and accomplishment that we can out of the game, and it’s a real bonding experience,” he stated. He found the Minecraft Club to be a great way to make new friends and socialize with people he typically would not meet.

Co-founders of StuyDesign, juniors Cynthia Or and Irene Hao, agreed with this sentiment. One of the most rewarding prospects of creating their club has been “being able to meet these talented artists whom I never would have ordinarily met in class,” Or said.

But how are clubs established? Despite their popularity, not many people are aware of the strenuous process and logistics behind creating a club.

Recently, the Student Union (SU) developed a new website, StuyActivities, where students fill out applications to get their club chartered. This process allows for a smoother, more organized way to both charter and keep track of clubs. Club members, as well as prospective members, are able to see things like what the mission statement of the club is, and what days the club meets.

The chartering process is pretty straightforward. Waiting for the application to be approved typically takes between one and two months, and any issues or confusion can be solved through communication with the website admins via e-mail.

However, the process was not always so simple. Prior to the development of StuyActivities, students had to register their ideas physically. “It was a club charter, a literal piece of paper we had to write all our stuff onto and hand to [the] SU,” senior and founder of the now disbanded Stuyvesant Broadcasting Club Moududur Rahman said. Before digitizing the process, clubs kept track of things like attendance and members in whatever form they saw fit. “I like the idea of StuyActivities and making it all online,” Rahman commented. “But I feel like [it’s] so extra with a lot of bells and whistles no one uses. I want a more barebones, simple implementation that's reliable.”

“The website itself is still a little faulty,” Lee admitted, talking about how she struggles with checking the details of meetings she’s interested in because she gets an error, and wishes for the glitch to be amended.

Sophomore and co-founder of StuyUNICEF Alec Shafran also agreed, noting how some of the website’s features were ineffective. “But at the same time, you have to give credit to the SU for coming up with the idea of the website and making a strong effort to effectively support all the clubs and meet the needs of the club leaders,” he added, overall pleased with the website’s functionality.

All interviewees agreed that processes such as getting a room and determining a schedule for meetings were simple and easy to do with StuyActivities. Instead, the majority of their struggles seemed to stem not so much from the logistics, but rather from the pressures they faced as leaders.

“We are always looking into new ways to draw our members’ attention and hopefully get them to participate and bring their more of their friends,” Or said on the difficulty of always finding new ways to keep their club interesting and members returning.

“The lack of attendance was definitely our biggest issue,” Shafran echoed. “We would send out an e-mail to the approximately 100 people who expressed interest during the Club Pub Fair, and a total of four people would show up to the meeting that we would schedule.”

“The biggest difficulty [I faced] was self doubt,” Lee added. “In the earliest stages of planning out the creation of Stuy Papercrafts, I kept on asking myself if I was qualified enough to become the founder of a club, as someone who struggles with being outgoing. I asked myself if I would really be able to create a club and nurture it into something successful.” Nonetheless, Lee has managed to overcome that obstacle, and she now leads an active and successful club. She said, “It was very rewarding to see our first project come to life. We all created bird papercrafts. That was a huge achievement for me.”
While extremely rewarding, managing a club can also be very time-consuming and stressful. Is the experience worth it? Why do people start clubs in the first place?

“It is definitely challenging to balance managing the club, schoolwork, as well as all of my additional extracurriculars,” Shafran admitted, crediting his co-founders and close friends for helping him and making the experience more enjoyable.

Hao and Or concurred with his statement, explaining how they shared the club responsibilities to make it more manageable. “This lessened the burden and helped us juggle time for both school work and StuyDesign,” they said.

Aside from the rewarding aspects of creating a club, it can also teach one valuable skills. Brovender stated, “I learned that leadership isn't about bossing people around and getting them to do what you want. It's about empowering them to help the rest of the club, and listening to their feedback and new ideas.”

In addition, Lee has realized that perseverance is key. “There’s a limit to how much I can help my club grow, and the biggest thing I really can do is show up to my meetings, and never give up,” she said.

Not only will all of these lessons help club founders further improve their clubs, but the skills they’ve learned are also applicable to other situations. Their experiences can help these students build better relationships, become better leaders, and be more accountable for what they’re doing.

Ultimately, leading a club is a huge responsibility. When asked about what advice they would give to people who want to start a club, all interviewees advised that one should be prepared and genuinely passionate about their club’s mission statement, as well as willing to dedicate themselves to it wholeheartedly. “[If you and your] initial members are dedicated, subsequent members are also going to take the club seriously,” Rahman commented.

Lee added, “The most important thing is just to ‘Wake Up, Dress Up, and Show Up.’” This phrase inspired her to push through with her club, despite any crossroads she might have faced.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks and reach out,” Shafran advised. “There are so many people at Stuy[vesant] that are more than willing to help out however possible, despite any differences there may be in age or interests. We all just want to see each other succeed, and share our passions with others.”