University sees dramatic increase in student groups

The number of student groups has more than doubled since 2002.

Justin Horwath

Last October, marketing and science senior David Chang and his roommate, history and political science senior David Wallace, formed a student group as an ode to one of their favorite publications, The Onion.

They didn’t expect it to be anything more. But a few weeks later, Chang was barraged with e-mails about the group.

“To be quite honest, (the group) was really meant as just a joke,” he said. “But people started e-mailing me, and I decided to turn it into something.”

Since then, the group has met every month at events, like concerts and bowling nights, sponsored by The Onion.

“It’s a really loosely organized group,” he said.

According to Mandi Watkins, assistant director of student activities, the number of student groups has more than doubled since 2002.

Watkins said there were approximately 225 student groups then, but as of February there were 637 registered organizations.

“When (the Student Activities Office) merged with Coffman, that’s when the number really skyrocketed,” she said, citing the building renovation that brought in the office.

Watkins noted that an improved online registration process, more support from the University and an increased “community feeling” in Coffman Union have helped augment the number of groups.

“The second floor is a very lively place,” she said.

Entrepreneurship management and finance senior Drew Pederson, a representative to the Student Unions and Activities Board of Governors, called the increase a “big compliment to the student union.”

“The number just shows that more students are involved on campus,” he said.

Administrators at other Big Ten colleges said there has been an increase in registered student organizations, but not as dramatic as at the University.

Matt Couch, assistant director of the Ohio State University student union, said the number of registered student groups has increased from around 600 in 2002 to around 800 this year.

“(Students) are just looking for smaller communities in a way they never used to,” he said.

Like Ohio State, some of the student groups at the University are funded by a student service fee allocated to registered student groups and administrative units.

This year, the student service fees helped fund 37 registered student organizations and administrative units at a cost of $305.10 to each student taking more than six credits at the University, while in 2004-05 the student service fee cost each student $275.79 and helped fund 32 registered student organizations and administrative units. Fee requests for next year are still pending.