Top 5 Clubs to Join at U.Va.

September 12, 2014

Story by: Olivia Knott*

Ah, the school year has begun! While you may be tempted to split your time between hours of reading (ahem, procrastinating) on the bottom floor of Clemons and dancing the night away on the top floor of Trinity, why not use this year to make a difference for others? U.Va. is home to around 350 clubs. While this may sound intimidating, fear not! With the help of my peers, I have chosen the top 5 clubs at U.Va. that strive for social justice, raise awareness, and foster the growth of relationships and ideas between peers.

Take Back the Night and One Less

These two clubs both work to bring awareness to and end sexual violence, goals in line with the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center’s very own Gender Violence and Social Change mission. In fact, the Women’s Center collaborates with One Less and Take Back the Night events.

13471019284_b88bce776e_o Students gather at Take Back the Night's candle light vigil.
Stock photo from the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center archive

  Take Back the Night hosts an annual week-long series of events for the U.Va. community including workshops and opportunities to meet with counseling staff, and participate in performances and classes, such as yoga and self defense, to create a safe and empowering space for women to talk about sexual assault. The main event of the week is a nighttime vigil commemorating survivors.  One Less is an all-female club that works throughout the year to create hour-long presentations on sexual assault prevention and awareness to present to different groups on grounds.

From a member: “My favorite part about being in One Less is the support network we foster, both within our group and in the U.Va. community. This is a problem that affects all of us as students, and we need to work together to keep our community of trust intact and SAFE!” – Caroline Hollis, 3rd Year, Batten School of Public Policy and Leadership

TEDx at U.Va.

“Ideas Worth Spreading” is what the organization TED centers its mission around. TedxUVA brings together speakers specifically from the U.Va. community, including its very own teachers, students, and guest participants of diverse interests (last year included a famous Australian didjeridu player) all with the goal of sharing ideas that they consider to be important. You can participate through planning the event or even apply to be a speaker yourself! Check out U.Va. Class of 2007 Alan Webb’s talk on self directed learning:

Do you have an idea worth spreading?

From a member: “The TEDx Club unites event planners, web designers, local businesspeople and agents of change in our community to share ideas and resources with each other, in the hopes that all of us together can do more than any one of us could alone.” – Katherine King, 3rd Year, Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law

Sustained Dialogue

Creating and sustaining a dialogue about issues relevant to the U.Va. community is an integral part of achieving change. This club gives students of diverse backgrounds the opportunity to meet weekly in small groups led by a moderator to discuss controversial social issues at U.Va. This is the club I plan on joining this year. As a California native, U.Va. was a complete culture shock for me, and now as a third year, I’ve become fascinated by how someone’s background shapes their beliefs and ideas. In a world that desperately needs more tolerance and understanding of others, I’ve decided that this is how I want to make a difference.

Top 5 U.Va. Clubs Relay for Life Relay for life participants at the 24-hour walk/run fundraiser
Photo courtesy of Hallie Martin

 

Relay for Life

As the largest student-run fundraiser at U.Va., participants in Relay for Life create fundraising teams to raise money for the research and programs of the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life holds events throughout the year (including last year’s 22-scoop ice cream eating contest!), culminating in an overnight event in which your team takes turns running or walking laps for 24 hours. The organization has created a blog, in which its members share how cancer has touched their lives and the importance of joining Relay for Life.

From a member: “I joined Relay for Life my sophomore year of high school so that I could be a resource for people who are now going through the experiences that shaped me as a kid [Drew’s grandmother and mother are both cancer survivors]. Through Relay at U.Va. I’m doing everything I can to help the American Cancer Society to provide the care and fundraising for groundbreaking research that will someday completely eliminate cancer as a major health issue." – Drew Souders, 3rd Year, McIntire School of Commerce

Check out Drew’s story on the Relay for Life blog here. *Please note that all opinions in this and other Iris blog posts are those of the individual writer, not the organization as a whole, nor of the sponsor - the Women's Center.

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