In Pursuit of a Free Lunch: How to Start an On-campus Club

Co-written by Jyoti Jennings & Jessica Payne, Associate Editors

“In this economy, getting involved in a club differentiates you from every other student and is a great way to show leadership qualities,” declares Kevin Kwon, 2L SBA Vice President of Organizations.  Kevin should know; the SBA created his position this year to keep tabs on USD’s wide array of on-campus clubs.  The V.P. of Organizations is the doorkeeper for the SBA, which sets aside $170 of funding upon a club’s approval for periodic lunch meetings. Additional money is available upon request from the discretionary fund for proposed events that benefit the entire student body. 

If you and your besties wish to express your unique leadership qualities to employers without the cutthroat competition of popular clubs, there are four easy steps to start your own club anytime during the school year: 

1. Draft a mission statement—its length can vary.  For instance, the mission statement for Motions includes gems like “journalistic excellence is the soundest foundation for success” and “we pledge to seek and report the truth with honesty, accuracy, and fairness.” 

2. Create and fill board positions (e.g., treasurer, secretary, Vice President, reigning monarch). Then record the board members’ contact information, and submit it to the SBA so it knows that it is allotting lunch money to real law students and not to vagrants.

3. Find a faculty advisor.  You should find someone who is interested in and knowledgeable about your club’s focus because 1) your advisor will continue the club during graduation-induced regime changes, 2) your advisor will be an excellent panelist, and 3) your advisor can help contact professionals and colleagues who share the club’s focus. If you cannot find someone with the above criteria, pick an enthusiastic professor whom you like.

4. Email Kevin Kwon, and ask him to put you on the SBA agenda to bring your club before the SBA for approval.  The SBA bylaws require a majority by roll call vote, which means that each SBA club’s representative votes individually, and his or her vote is recorded.

NOTE: Next year, clubs will register with the Office for J.D. Student Affairs, which will oversee all clubs. This will hopefully create a framework that makes it clear to students which clubs are active and makes it easier for clubs to plan events and receive funding.

And now a moment for those poor, lonely, defunct clubs:

defunct club (n.): a club whose officers and general status is unknown to the SBA

According to Kevin Kwon, the recent move to deactivating defunct clubs is both to do some housekeeping (Why keep it on the books if nothing’s happening with it?) and free up funding. Although the SBA sets aside basic funding for each club, if a club is not active, the money ends up just sitting there. Hence, the list of defunct clubs was released in anticipation of removal. 

“Defunct” sounds official, but it’s easy to reactivate clubs, provided students act before the SBA permanently removes a club from the roster. “Step 4,” which requires an SBA majority vote, can be skipped because the defunct club has already been approved and (more importantly) your lunch fund has already been allotted. All you need are officers, a mission statement, and a faculty advisor, and your posse is ready to head out for some hot clubbing, complete with a gourmet Subway buffet.

If you are interested in any of the following clubs, contact Kevin Kwon. Those with an asterisk remain uncertain, and those with an exclamation point are being revived.

Clubs in the Process of Being Revived:

Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)
Lawyers in Performing Arts*
Republican Legal Society*
Democratic Law Society*
Christian Legal Society
Running/Fitness Club!
Business Law Society
Surf Law*
Golf Club!

Currently Defunct Clubs (Save Us!):

Art Law
READ San Diego

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