Study after study of student retention and success show that students involved in campus organizations thrive at universities, both socially and academically.
“Academics agree that there is a link between student engagement and retention. Overall, students who are engaged in their studies and activities are more likely to be successful, which includes remaining at an institution to complete their qualifications,” writes Helena Coll Sanchez in Student Engagement and Retention, a 2020 article for FeedbackFruits.
And N.C. Central University, with over 100 registered student organizations, has no shortage of them. And they come in all shapes and sizes. Some are historically based, like the National Council of Negro Women and Collegiate 100 Black Women; some, like Classy Prestigious Revolutionary and De Haute Allure, are modeling troops; some are related to students’ majors, like the Art and Design Club and the Law and Technology Student Organization, and some bring together out-of-state students from specific locations, such as the Metro Eagles.
Experts say students who participate in student organizations, programs, and community service make the most of their college experience because they cultivate relationships with staff, engaging in connections that encourage their sense of belonging.
Ariel Mial, an NCCU environmental and geographic sciences senior, is a case study in the benefits of belonging to student organizations.
Her student organization, Climate Reality Corps, is related to her major and focused on environmental issues. She says it’s a “small and intimate group that gives her a space to voice her opinion and gives her career experiences.”
For example, Mial is now in New Orleans at Rally 2022: National Land Conservation Conference. The conference is a “gathering of inspired and passionate land conservation practitioners from around the world who are dedicated to conserving cherished places in our communities.”
“Joining Climate Reality Corps adds to my experience at NCCU by allowing me to gain exposure and community service in my desired field,” said Mial. “Also, it gave me the opportunity to meet new people and take a step out of my comfort zone.”
Political science senior Danyelle Duckett says founding 11:11 Durham “helped me find a part of myself.” According to Duckett, she started 11:11 Durham to bridge the gap between the service opportunities available to students and what students feel can make a difference in their community.
“We create community service events by utilizing the voice of the students’ interest and my own personal experience,” said Duckett, adding that the project has improved her leadership skills, her public speaking and “everything else I had already learned to do but had slim true confidence behind.”
Brandon Radliff, NCCU Student Organizations and Fraternity & Sorority Life Coordinator, is well aware of the importance of successful student organizations. Radliff, who arrived at NCCU last fall, said his responsibilities include making sure student organizations are registered, making sure organization advisers understand their responsibilities and have the resources the organizations need.
“When students become involved with things that interest them, it’s an outline for them that takes their stressors away, academic thought, and it contributes to them being happy,” said Radliff, adding student sometimes slip up and mess up their reputation by “how they carry themselves how they treat people, and each other.”
He stressed that student need to stay on top of their business procedures and keep their advisers involved.
To register student organizations must have at minimum five full time student members, a signed statement from a full time University administrator or faculty member agreeing to serve as an adviser. They must also have a constitution and by-laws. Dues must be accounted for and, if applicable, written consent must be provided from the national organization.
EagleLink, which describes itself as the “guide to all information on student organizations and student life,” is homebase for establishing a new student organization. At the create organization link prospective organization founders enter information about themselves and the organization type they want to establish.
Each student organization can request up to $3,000 a year from the University Senate Council with a written proposal to the Student Government Association. Each year organizations have to renew their registration.
Given the importance of student organizations for student success and well-being, one issue remains for NCCU students. How much time are they able to devote to these beneficial student organizations? “I don’t have the time to participate in anything, I have two jobs,” said business senior Breanna Sampson.