With 250-plus student organizations on the Middle Tennessee State University campus, students have the opportunity to cultivate a variety of interests and what will in many cases be lifelong friends as they navigate their academy journey.
MTSU’s Center for Student Involvement and Leadership recently hosted its annual Student Organization Fair in the Student Union Ballroom to provide new and returning students a chance to plug into the campus community at a deeper level as well as hone their leadership, teamwork and communications skills.
“It’s always an exciting event where we invite all of our student organizations to come out and table and introduce themselves to other MTSU students and students get to meet them,” CSIL Director Jackie Victory said. “It’s always fun.”
From sports clubs and honor societies to fraternities and sororities, faith-based organizations, and departmental and professional groups, the ballroom featured rows of informational tables manned by organization representatives eager to share details about their group.
Society of Electronic Music, MT Student Sociologists, Society for International Affairs, Japan Club, MPAC Dancers, Believers at MTSU, Photography Society of MTSU … the choices seemed endless at the Aug. 30 event.
Victory encourages students who are unsure about what group to become involved with to start by thinking about their major and organizations related to it. Students can then meet classmates on a more personal level while also finding study partners for their courses.
“Going to class is obviously important but being able to engage with students outside of class, being able to make friends, being able to meet people with similar interests, those are all things that are important,” she added. “Obviously looking at hobbies, looking at special interests and things they enjoy, that’s going to help them socially as well so that MTSU feels a lot more like home.”
MTSU political science and international relations major Matthew Keylon of Cleveland, Tennessee, is president of Order of Omega, an honor society for Greek organizations on campus that emphasizes community service.
Keylon, also a member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, said the Order of Omega has allowed him to meet numerous fraternity and sorority members that he may not otherwise interact with regularly and “expand my horizons.”
“I think studies have proven that the more you get involved and engaged on campus the more likely you are to graduate,” he said. “And you’re going to make lifelong friends. I joined ATO as a freshman and I’m probably going to talk to these guys until the day I die.”
He encourages Blue Raider students not currently involved “to just see what’s out there.”
If a student has a particular interest, “we more than likely have (a group), and if we don’t, start one!” he said. “There are more than likely people just like you, even if it’s a smaller organization. That’ll be a close circle of friends … and it just makes college that much more special.”
MTSU Black Student Union President Tobias Gurley said his organization promotes unity throughout the campus, especially for Black students and other students of color, through special events, community service and meetings.
“We talk about social things that are going on, but we’re also putting in work within the community and also on campus,” said the junior biology major from Clarksville, Tennessee. He has been involved with the group for two years, serving as treasurer last year before moving into the top leadership role.
Gurley said he’s aware that some students — many with full class schedules in addition to full- or part-time jobs — think they don’t have enough time to be involved with a student organization. But he found that his involvement has actually helped him progress academically and socially.
“Being involved on campus has actually elevated my school work,” he said, noting that the many great special events held on campus incentivizes him to prioritize his course work to free up time to attend.
“And it’s just great to build connections with people, to get out and show your face,” he said. “I would encourage any and everybody to join whatever organization fits your specific needs. It’s a great thing that MTSU offers and a great thing to do.”
Students can find the directory listing of student organizations at the MyMT website, https://mtsu.edu/mymt. Students can message the organizations from within the platform if they have questions about a particular group.
“It’s a good tool for them to use to help them get started,” Victory said.
For more information, visit the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership website at https://www.mtsu.edu/involve/. Learn more about student organizations and how you can become involved at https://www.mtsu.edu/sos/.
— Jimmy Hart (Jimmy.Hart@mtsu.edu)