Why aren’t people showing up for student organizations?

Elyse Grothaus, A&E Editor

At our latest weekly Chips meeting, a staff member brought up that three Student Activities Council committees — SAC Entertainment, SAC Impact, and SAC Special Events — will be merging to form one new committee. This is due to lack of interest in the events and lack of leadership coming in to take charge of the organizations. I was upset to hear this because I have often been frustrated by the low attendance at various student organization events and meetings. So, my question is, why is this the case? Why is it that many organizations struggle to get 10 people to come to their meetings? Why is it that at a college where everyone is “over-involved,” people just aren’t showing up?

One possible reason for this trend is that Luther has too many organizations. The visual media department released a YouTube video in 2016 bragging that, “With over 100 recognized student organizations, we really do have something for everybody!” The activities fair is a great example of the large variety of organizations that Luther has to offer, and it is always packed with enthusiastic club leaders encouraging you to sign up for their email list. However, for a college of just over 2,000, is this a healthy number? How many student organizations are too many student organizations?

The easiest singular culprit to blame for the lack of attendance at student organization meetings and events is the students themselves. After all, this problem ultimately stems from a lack of people. I was originally planning on writing an opinion piece that called out underclassmen for seemingly lower participation levels, but the more I thought about this the more I realized that it would not be fair. It is always easier for the “older generation” to blame the “younger generation” for doing things wrong, but this narrow view fails to take into account the differing interests, motivations, and priorities of people at a different age and stage in their lives.   

This brings me to my third possible explanation as to why students aren’t showing up. Perhaps Luther needs to rethink the types of organizations it offers and how they are marketed to students. New organizations such as Luther College Platform seem to be popular and interesting for attendees. Maybe there needs to be more focus on the select organizations that are proving to be well-attended. And maybe hoards of emails are not the best way to attract people to student organizations. Luther must always evolve based on the wants and needs of its students, and student organizations are no exception.

Whatever the reason, whether it be one listed above, a combination of the three I offered, or a completely different reason altogether, I want to figure out why people aren’t showing up and how to get them to start. After all, student organizations can offer truly enriching experiences for those who attend. Some of my most worthwhile learning opportunities in the past four years stemmed from student organization meetings and events. I encourage you to respond to this opinion piece by either challenging my assumption or offering other explanations as to why people aren’t showing up and how to get them to start.

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