The first few weeks of school are always overwhelming. Whether you are a seasoned Dukie or are a first-year student that has just recently set foot on campus for the first time, the early weeks of the fall semester are full of stress and commotion. Of course, these first few weeks are also crucial when it comes to getting involved in the hundreds of student activity groups that are available to Duke students. Duke offers an incredible selection of student groups, so that pretty much every student can find an organization that caters to his or her interests. Whether you like movies, tennis, trivia, or foreign affairs, you are pretty much guaranteed to find a group for you. While joining a new campus group can seem fairly daunting, especially to students who are new to campus, there are numerous ways to go about getting involved.
Student Activities Fair: The Student Activities fair is the best place to start when it comes to joining a student group at Duke. The university boasts an impressive 400+ recognized student activity groups that range from club sports to trivia to religion, and the vast majority of these can be found tabling at the activities fair. And good news for freshmen—the fair is located on East campus, right in front of the Marketplace. To get the best out of your experience at the activities fair, it’s probably easiest to walk around and scan all the tables to get a good picture of all the student groups, and then visit each individual organization in which you are interested. When you do find a group that you think you might want to join, make sure to get as much information from the members as possible, and be sure to add your name and email to the group mailing list so you can receive the information about member meetings and events. For nearly all organizations, writing your name and email on a list is by no means a commitment to join; it’s just a way to receive more information about the group. Therefore, it’s best to put your name down on every list that you think might interest you. The University Center Activities and Events (UCAE) Fall Student Activities Fair is scheduled to take place on FRIDAY, AUGUST 31 from 4PM TO 6PM on the East Campus Quad.
Narrowing down your selection: If you are like most Duke freshmen, you will probably sign up for far more student organizations than you can reasonably handle. There really is nothing wrong with putting your name down on numerous lists; however, for your own sanity, it’s best to narrow down your group selection so that you only participate in the groups in which you are very interested. Keep in mind that each organization that you decide to join will require a specific time commitment, some more than others. Be mindful that you don’t want to overextend yourself. While it’s great to get involved, you also want to make sure you can actually commit to each group you join, while still having time for school and a social life.
DukeGroups: If you are unable to make it to the activities fair, or decide later on that you want to join a specific group, head on over to DukeGroups, an online resource where you can find a listing of every student organization, and add your name to some group email lists. DukeGroups is also a great resource to consult before the Activities Fair because the fair itself can be somewhat overwhelming. Checking the full list of student organization descriptions before the fair might give you a better sense of which groups you want to find at the fair, and can expedite your experience on fair day itself.
Start your own group! With hundreds of student groups, Duke has a wide range of hobbies and interests covered. However, if Duke does not offer a specific organization that interests you, you can start your own group! There are a number of guidelines when it comes to starting your own campus organization; however, Duke wants to make sure each and every student interest is represented on campus. Therefore, don’t hesitate to check out more information about starting your own campus group if your desired group does not already exist! For more information about starting a new organization, check out the UCAE page about starting a new campus organization here.
So despite the beginning-of-the-semester commotion, joining a student group on campus is not too difficult. Just remember that the best way to become a member of an organization is to be proactive; the only way to truly participate is if you take the initiative to get involved.