Lisle, Illinois ~ The opportunities for students to get involved at Benedictine increased significantly this past academic year with the addition of many new cultural, spiritual, service-oriented, social and pre-professional student organizations.
The University’s Student Senate approved 15 new clubs since the end of the Spring 2015 Semester, increasing the number of student organizations on the Lisle campus from 47 to 62.
They included such new clubs as Helping Hands, Healing Hearts, which supports the Ronald McDonald House Charities; GK (Gawad Kalinga) Benedictine, which supports efforts to fight poverty in the Philippines; and FemPower, which aims to empower women and promote gender equality.
“The best thing about our club is knowing that we are helping families that need the most help,” said Dionna Mantucca, president of Helping Hands, Healing Hearts. “Some families feel comfortable enough to share their stories with us, and knowing that reassures me and other club members that we are making a difference in their lives, even if it is just making them food.”
Students formed the Theater Club, which performs plays in the Goodwin Hall Auditorium; the Astronomical Society; and the Podiatry, Anatomy, Computer Science and Graphic Design clubs to provide students who have interests in those particular majors and fields with opportunities to further develop and explore careers.
“We want to help students learn anatomy at a deeper level so they can excel in their undergraduate courses,” said Sally Jo Detloff, president of the Anatomy Club. “The best part about this club is the ability to work on a dissection at your own pace and on your own time. It alleviates the pressure to perform and makes the experience more enjoyable and self-driven.”
The GLOW (Gay, Lesbian or Whatever) Club was created to provide education, support and awareness of people with different sexual orientations. Super Fans was established to cheer on Benedictine student-athletes.
Students can also become members of the Film Appreciation Club, the Association of Latino American Students, the Protestant Board and the Indian Student Association.
“It’s been busy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Daniel Turano, BenU’s coordinator of Student Involvement.
“As long as there is a student idea and student buy-in, almost any group can get started,” he added. “I usually push anything that comes across my desk through (to the Student Senate) because I want to hear from the students. I put the emphasis and focus on them taking the lead and I provide a support system.”
Before applying to become a student organization, new clubs must have a minimum of 15 members including a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary, 10 active members and one faculty or staff advisor who sponsors the club.
Once approved, it’s up to club members to plan events and decide how to finance them. While money is set aside in the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development for club activities, club members must first make an appeal for it.
“We have a funding review board, and club leaders can come and plead their case as to why they need funding,” Turano said. “The board then decides to approve, modify or deny the appeal.”
Many clubs fundraise for themselves. Some have held bake sales and athletic tournaments. Others have partnered with local restaurant owners who agree to donate a portion of their profits to a Benedictine student organization.
And just within the past two years, student club members have met some ambitious goals.
Last year, all BenU student organizations contributed to help reach a $25,000 fundraising target. This year, students were challenged to raise a combined $40,000. By the end of spring, they had raised more than $50,000.
“We encourage students to fundraise, and they expect that of themselves as well because it’s not just for their own use, it’s to give back to charities, to Benedictine and other nonprofit organizations,” said Turano, who added that fundraising isn’t necessarily the end goal.
“It’s about making sure students feel they are empowered to do what they think is necessary and what they think will benefit the entire campus community,” Turano said. “We continue to work on increasing student involvement on campus, whether that means creating more clubs, or getting more students out to club events or club meetings.”
Building the student experience and increasing the close-knit community feeling on campus is key.
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 10,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 19 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fifth consecutive year in 2015. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit ben.edu.