An Unhelpful Guide to Starting Your Very Own Kwantlen Club
Opinions / September 28, 2015
A story of red tape and tennis
When I figured I’d start Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s first-ever student organization for tennis enthusiasts, I didn’t expect to be reading my weight in “Start a Club” documents.
Well actually, my editor told me to start a club, then write about my experience. In doing so, I found out from some standard club forms on the Kwantlen Student Association website that starting a student society is an intensive, highly-regulated affair. The documents, while accessible to an intelligent person’s first foray into society bylaws, suggested a lot more work than I thought was needed for what I had in mind.
So I thought I’d offer a quick tutorial for anyone else contemplating club formation. Here it is, dear reader, a largely unhelpful guide to starting your very own, KSA-sanctioned student organization.
Step 1: Dream Big
From the start I was hoping my necessarily laissez-faire approach—I’m taking five courses and writing this thing—could be accommodated by the club-creation process. I chose tennis as the club theme thinking surely there are students at Kwantlen just as busy as me that could use a quick 15-love and some Federer-level racket smashing.
The as-of-yet unborn KPU tennis club was simply looking to connect tennis players at Kwantlen. Wanna play a set? Drop us a line in the Facebook group or something. Maybe we’ll get back to you when we’re not having a three-week deuce with this annotated bibliography. And if we do get back to you, let’s meet at Newton Athletic Park at six. Ending time’s nominal. Bring your own racket. No crying.
Does that really sound like something I should draft a soft and hard year-long budget for?
Step 2: Look For Inspiration From Other Clubs
Now, I’m being unfair. It’s not uncommon for a Canadian university club to endure such an extensive process. It’s not uncommon for student unions to have lengthy requirements that need to be filled, just like the KSA’s.
But it’s also not uncommon for Canadian universities to have some really bizarre clubs. Macleans On Campus reported that there was a “Super Cool Council” club at Dalhousie University, whose club description was literally “We are super cool.” Also, a “Campus Crusade for Cheese” club at Waterloo.
In contrast, Kwantlen’s clubs are obviously created for respectable, utilitarian ends. I know what the history students’ society probably does (they read, the nerds). There’s no arguing what the debate club probably does. We don’t have to have a cheese club at Kwantlen—but we could, and that would be a laugh. Purely that. No professional development or social justice cause, planning tools or budgets. Just general fun. Because if I was starting a cheese club I’d want my damn cheese club to have a cheddar castle as our headquarters, should the student union accept my funding request.
I maintain that our student union was pretty bright about all this clubbery and, from my interpretation, designed the process to allow for the most successful student clubs with the least amount of corruption. The Kwantlen Gaming Guild is about 500 strong, for example, and of course you need to hold the required annual general meetings for such a massive club. Of course you would need to elect their executives and work democratically. Of course you would need to draft a specific constitution for such a club. These people actually have a year of stuff to budget for.
Another example is the Kwantlen Model United Nations (KMUN), who have flown out to seminars and booked space for their events. The KSA helps facilitate both endeavours for clubs and that’s great. There are a lot of great club resources, like locker space, photocopies, webspace and opportunities for funding requests.
Step 3: Succumb To The Bureaucracy and Abandon Your Love of Tennis
But it was this reliance on regulation, in tandem with an already bursting-at-the-seams schedule, that absolutely strangled my unborn tennis club. I never was able to get my innocuous little guild off the ground for all the same reasons the KGG and KMUN can swell to impressive sizes without caving in on themselves. Which is great for them, the regulations work for those groups.
But maybe my tennis club only needed the 250 free photocopies. Maybe we just felt like growing the thing by word of mouth. Maybe we just wanted to play tennis, no strings attached.