How to Start a Club (It’s Really As Easy As the Tour Guides Make It Sound)

By Danny DeBare ‘22

When touring Pomona as a prospective student, I distinctly remember the part about clubs. From “250 clubs to join throughout the 5Cs”, to “half a million dollars the Pomona student body doles out,” clubs ground many students’ experience at Pomona. And truly, if you want to create a new experience or bring together a group of students for the first time, founding a club at Pomona is simple.

*I know I talk about my gap year a lot, but bear with me*

After arriving to campus off of a gap year, I felt like the orientation week didn’t click with me as well as I had hoped. I wished the organizers had created a space for gap-year students to build a community, or at least get to know one another. Sometimes, I felt old and out of place. After orientation, I brought these concerns to some administrators, and, after discussing some of my concerns, they encouraged me to apply for funding to start a new club focused on creating community for gap-year students.

club meeting Only a few requirements exist for groups desiring club funding, and most come naturally! First, you have to prove that a similar club doesn’t already exist. Second, you have to show interest and prove that you have at least twelve students excited to support the club. Third, find a faculty advisor. Sometimes, this faculty stems from a personal connection or a shared interest in the topic of the club. Fourth, meet with the Dean in charge of clubs. Finally, create a club constitution and executive board.

All in all, besides scheduling a meeting with the Dean and shooting an email to a faculty who had already showed interest in cultivating a gap-year community, the paperwork took about an hour. Some of that time (more than I’d like to admit) was spent finding the perfect icon photo. Fun hint: an example club constitution comes with the forms! This system was established to facilitate the creation of new communities on campus, and, boy, does it make the process easy. The next month I applied for funding and received every dollar I requested.

21 Choices Yogurt shopFast forward over the summer to the first week of orientation 2019; anxious first-years—who may have been older than their sponsors—arrived to campus. Instead of watching them stumble into other fellow gap-year first years by some miracle, the Pomona College Gap Year Community hosted a welcome brunch in a private dining room at Frank Dining Hall where students from every grade mingled over fun icebreakers, talking about the transition to college and answering questions from first years. The following Friday, we all walked down to the best frozen yogurt place in the Village, 21 Choices, and all had froyo on the club’s tab. I saw a need, created a club to fill it, and was fully supported by Pomona every step of the way.

Now, on my tours, I make sure to include this anecdote. It’s important, when picking schools, to understand that your interests may change, and that schools should have structures in place that encourage student development. Pomona more than supports this.