As students settle in at the University of New Mexico at the beginning of the fall semester, they look to the rest of the semester and consider participation in events and clubs on campus.
Thinking of joining an organization, or just wanting to get know fellow Lobos around campus, students don’t lack choices, thanks to the dedication and hard work of students and staff at UNM’s Student Activities Center.
Associate Director of Student Activities Ryan Lindquist said, “We’ve definitely seen a nice increase over the course of the last 10 years.”
Currently more than 400 student groups are on the menu to pick from at UNM, ranging from Student Vets to the Chess Club and “Best Buddies of New Mexico” and “Big Brothers, Big Sisters.” Sports clubs include men’s and women’s rugby or cricket, while the “Hobbit Society” and “Muggle Society” appeal to Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fans.
Student organizations are an important part of creating a more complete college experience for members of the UNM community, according to Debbie Morris, director, Student Activities Center.
“I believe it helps them to be successful students. We want them to have more than a freeway and parking lot experience,” Morris said. “Students are connected to each other and the campus community and tend to stay in school, graduate and have a better college experience.”
UNM organizations are categorized in academic, sports and recreation, honorary organizations, service, fraternities, sororities, special interest, religious and others. The groups don’t have to be related to an academic endeavor on campus, but students are finding that this is one way to make stronger networking connections with their fellow classmates, advisors and future co-workers.
“Our group is designed to schedule events for physics and astronomy graduate students outside of their research and their coursework,” said Mark Gorski, a new graduate student at UNM who was attending a recent Student Activities Center workshop to re-charter the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Students Association. He added, “This is my first year at UNM, and I’m here to be social and meet people in my department, because our department is fairly big.”
Classifying the organization is done by students and their advisor when they renew the group’s active status each fall.
Students who haven’t found a club or interest are encouraged to contact UNM’s Student Activities Center about the possibilities of creating a new organization. To do so, students need to attend a Student Activities Center Workshop to learn the steps to create a new student group - from finding a staff or faculty advisor, to locating rooms for meetings, advice on getting more students to join, and providing templates and guidance for tackling bylaws and a constitution for their new organization.
“We walk them through the entire process. We have a checklist for students that they can come in and get prior to the workshop,” said Student Activities Coordinator Crystle Collier.
The Student Activities Center is about more than campus groups.
It’s also about providing a more complete collegiate experience for students, to make their time on campus as memorable and enjoyable as possible, and thanks to a starting push from UNM’s Vice President for Student Affairs Eliseo “Cheo” Torres, the Student Activities Center has also run a successful “Mid-Week Movies” program since the Student Union Building reopened in 2003.
“We have a really nice movie facility that Dr. Torres thought would enhance campus community,” Lindquist said.
Students, staff, faculty and members of the community are able to watch second-run movies for a few dollars on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the semester. This fall’s offerings include “Thor,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “The Green Lantern” and other recent hit movies. The SUB Theater often shows movies that appeal to children as well. “This is another way our non-traditional students with families can enjoy campus with their families,” Morris said.
Tickets run $2 for students, $3.50 for staff and faculty, or $15 buys a pass to the entire semester’s movie series.
For a small fee per semester, members of the UNM community also have access to the ASUNM Crafts Studio, located in the SUB basement, across the hall from the SUB Theater. The studio features kilns, pottery wheels, and jewelry stations and free instruction to those interested in tapping into their crafting alter ego. The annual Holiday Crafts Fair features work of many student, staff and faculty artists.
ASUNM is also heavily tied in with activities throughout campus. ASUNM’s Student Special Events helps to bring a diverse and interesting collection of speakers, concerts and other events to UNM. Student Special Events is a student service agency of ASUNM and is made up of a core of five students, an executive director and directors of marketing, promotions, culture and speakers, with a group of student volunteers to help bring a variety of interesting events to the university.
“We work together and try to bring cool and fun events to campus for our students to enjoy,” said SSE Executive Director Vanessa Atler.
Last spring they coordinated events from the Battle of the Bands to a presentation and discussion with a group of masked Lucha Libre wrestlers from Mexico, to their yearly “Fiestas” celebration.
“I want to bring what the students want to see,” Atler added. “That’s what we’re here for.”
Some of the other ASUNM Student Service Agency events this fall include Fall Frenzy, a chance for students to take part in an annual community service project to help clean up and beautify the UNM campus; Homecoming, Red Rally Bonfire and Pep Rally, where ASUNM’s “Lobo Spirit” agency builds, then burns, a 25-foot-tall Aggie as part of a pep rally the Thursday before UNM’s matchup with longtime rival, New Mexico State University Aggies.
For Lobos who love to sing or perform the Student Activities Center hosts the Fourth Annual “Lobos’ Got Talent” competition on Friday, Nov. 11. Mirroring the wildly popular TV show “America’s Got Talent,” more than 40 student musicians and performers apply and compete for 15 coveted spots. The application deadline is mid-October, with auditions in early November.
“We have incredibly talented students at this university that nobody knows about,” Morris said. “It feels really good to give those students an outlet and an opportunity to showcase their talents, whatever they may be.”
Halloween is also a wonderful time on the UNM campus, from the rustle of falling leaves, to jack-o-lanterns and Lobo Football games at University Stadium to the discussion of zombies.
That’s right, zombies. This year, ASUNM’s Halloween Speaker is Matt Mogk, the founder of the Zombie Research Society, who will discuss the history and pathology of Zombie lore and, of course, how to survive a Zombie attack.
UNM offers something for everybody. As Homecoming declared, “It All Starts with ‘U’”.