Saturday, October 11, 2014

Tim from Toluca Lake With a Weekend Thirsty on Clubs.

I have had the (thinking of word to go here - let's go with...) pleasure of being the faculty advisor to my discipline's club.

I do love this part of my job. I do. Every semester we have about 40 or so students join the club and they are enthusiastic and they amaze me with their dedication. They do. And if I must say myself, I'm doing a bang up job.

 However, 99.9999999% of the club members are my students. How can I motivate my colleagues to encourage their students to join the club (and why don't they?). Oh, don't get me wrong. Please don't. They do get "involved." My colleagues do get up in my business and criticize what I do with the club. Even the noob does this.

Q: How can I motivate my colleagues blah, blah, blah. How can I keep them from getting up in my grill concerning something they're not really interested in?


  1. Optimistic answer: By repetition, and your own enthusiasm. Keep reminding them to announce club meetings in their classes, etc., and be persistent about it.

    More realistic answer: You can't. You can entice students with free food. One instructor in our physics department likes to barbecue, and every Thursday at noon he hosts a barbecue outside the physics department office. (The climate here is such that we can barbecue comfortably throughout the year.) Many of our students attend. It’s lots of fun, and we bring a whiteboard and markers and they do talk about physics.

    Only 3-4 of our faculty ever attend. They’re almost always active ones, not the deadwood. So far these barbecues have been supported entirely by private donations, mainly from the active faculty. Our deadwood, embattled, Kool-Aid-tipsy Chair hasn’t lifted a finger to help, certainly not financially, even though it’s been pointed out to him that a few hot dogs aren’t that expensive. In fact, he’s instituted sign-up sheets, for what reason I have no idea.

    If there’s no free food, or if the club meetings aren’t at times your students consider convenient, you may be hard-pressed to get even students to attend. It’s like pulling teeth to get my physics majors and grad students to come to meetings on Saturdays at 7-9 p.m. of the local amateur astronomy club, even though they’re on campus here and this club has long been a huge help to me, both in keeping the observatories running and in observing events and public outreach. Threatening to staple dicks to the floor (TWITCH! TWITCH!) won’t work, unless I do the stapling in the room in which the meeting is held.

  2. If you want them to leave you alone, invite them to serve as the club's advisor next year. They will likely discover some other task that demand their attention. The downside is that one of them might accept your offer. Then, they will get credit for successfully running a club that you worked hard to develop during previous years.

  3. I'm in a similar position as a club sponsor for our department. The faculty view it as a completely student-driven club b/c that's how it was run for years and years. I'm slowly getting faculty (one at a time) to show up for a half hour at a time, but it's been an effort. The students keep saying they want more faculty to show up and faculty are just happy to get away from the students.