Looking for ways to get involved on campus?

From left, students Andres Florez and Miguel Silveira speak with their peers about the Association of Commuter Students during an involvement fair on the Foote Green.
By Jenny Hudak

From left, students Andres Florez and Miguel Silveira speak with their peers about the Association of Commuter Students during an involvement fair on the Foote Green.

Looking for ways to get involved on campus?

By Jenny Hudak
Several departments and organizations work to get students involved at the University of Miami, encouraging them to grow as leaders and connect with their communities.

When Carly Payne began her undergraduate studies at the University of Miami, she sought ways to meet her peers, develop her leadership skills, and discover her passions. So, Payne began getting involved with student organizations. 

“Trying to get involved early on in your time as a student is ideal,” said Payne, a senior from Rochester, New York, who is studying political science and journalism. “Student involvement really teaches you what you like—or don’t like—and introduces you to a broad and diverse group of students you might not otherwise meet. A lot of my friendships and experiences today were formed through my involvement in clubs.”

As chair of the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), Payne leads a group that advocates for student organizations and their members, like herself, looking to get involved on campus. 

Payne and her COSO peers work to approve new student organizations; provide, develop, and improve services and resources for student organizations; enforce policies and procedures related to student organizations; and coordinate large-scale involvement fairs, like Canefest, during ’Cane Kickoff week. 

“My piece of advice to a student who doesn’t know where to get started finding a club is to reach out to other students. If they want to visit our COSO office in the Shalala Student Center, one of our committee members will sit down with them to discuss what they’re interested in, or what they’re considering applying to, and help them through that process,” Payne said. “We understand the process can be daunting for some, so we try to connect them with a more experienced student leader who can guide. 

The Department of Student Activities and Student Organizations (SASO) serves as a resource for student leaders, programming boards, and student organizations through advising, leadership development, and organizational support services. 

“Our department’s mission is really about helping connect students to one another, to campus resources, and helping them find their place on campus,” said Josh Brandfon, senior director of student activities, student organizations, and student center complex programs. “We’re all about creating experiences and connecting ’Canes.”

With more than 300 registered student organizations, there is virtually something for every student. Students looking to get involved with major programs, like the Homecoming Executive Committee, Hurricane Productions, or Category 5, can also turn to SASO for guidance. 

Through student involvement, Brandfon noted, students are given the unique opportunity to develop key competencies and supplement their in-classroom learning with out-of-classroom experience. Depending on the organization, students can learn event management skills, manage large budgets, collaborate with outside vendors, and foster relationships with professional staff who may be potential career mentors. 

“Reach out to the staff for each respective area,” he said. “Visit our offices to learn about the opportunities and organizations that exist on campus. The staff from all of our departments are willing to talk with students looking for that connection or opportunity to get involved.” 

Another key component of the student experience is community service. The Butler Center for Service and Leadership connects students to volunteer and leadership opportunities, programs, and initiatives. 

“Our goal as a team is to work with students one on one and also through our various programs to help them become better engaged in the community as they go through their UM experience,” said Andrew Wiemer, senior director of the Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development. 

Students can engage in service opportunities facilitated by the Butler Center, or apply to participate in mentorship programs that promote the skills and resources necessary to be successful student leaders on campus and beyond their collegiate careers. Through service opportunities, students can become better connected to the South Florida community around them.  

“When students volunteer, it helps them see the community around them and understand various social aspects and social issues that affect our Miami community,” Wiemer pointed out. “When students are involved in service days or programs, they can see the community firsthand. This is a chance for them to engage and develop themselves as leaders in our community.” 

Similarly, mentorship, leadership, and involvement opportunities are available through the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs or the LGBTQ Student Center, both focus on fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance for a diverse student body, while also developing student leaders through skill-building opportunities and service projects.

For students looking for an opportunity to stay active and meet their peers, the Intramural Sports program, through the Department of Wellness and Recreation, offers players the opportunity to participate competitively or recreationally in a variety of sports and activities such as flag football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, kickball, and more.  

Teams compete against each other within the University community in tiered divisions, encouraging students of all levels of expertise, from novice to advanced, to participate. 

With hundreds of student organizations and opportunities to get involved, Payne encourages her peers to try everything. 

“Don’t let initial failure get in the way of getting involved,” Payne said. “It would have been very easy for me early on not to persist when I was starting to try to find somewhere to get involved on campus. If everything does not work out according to your plan, take that as an opportunity to sign up for something else. And use that as motivation to work toward your ultimate goals.” 

Visit Engage for more information on how to get involved with student organizations.