Student organizations offer opportunities to get involved

With a choice of more than 200 student organizations in which to participate and the ability to start a new one for just about anything, Kent State’s campus community provides students with limitless possibilities to get involved.

Katie Goldring, academic program officer for the Center for Student Involvement, said there are several advantages for students who choose to engage with groups on campus.

For example, meeting people early on is a great way to make friends and help students adjust to the new environment.

“What I found when I went to school was you have to make those connections quick because everybody starts finding their niches right away,” Goldring said. “I think it’s a good thing to look at your options right from the get-go because if you don’t find that comfort level right away, then you’re wanting to go home every weekend and wanting to still relate back to your high school friends. And while it’s important to keep those connections, you’re going to be here at Kent State for the next four years.”

Goldring said what sets Kent State apart from other universities is the diversity of its programs and organizations.

But for students looking to get involved on campus, looking through the list of more than 200 registered groups and finding something that interests them can be an intimidating process. To help ease the burden, check out our roundup of some of the biggest and most well-known entities here at Kent State.

Undergraduate Student Government

In addition to representing the entire undergraduate student population of the university, USG is responsible for the allocation of funds to other groups, programming some of campus’ biggest events and making sure students have strong representation in the university community.

USG representatives are elected in the spring for the following academic year through FlashLine, and those wanting to get involved will find a variety of positions they can run for to contribute to USG in whichever capacity they feel they’re best suited for.

Evan Gildenblatt, the executive director of USG, said he’s proud of the work his organization does for Kent State students, and he encourages everyone to pursue a position, get involved and make a difference.

“I think it’s a really vital role that we play: not only to act as advocates for the student body but to also provide goods and services,” Gildenblatt said.

Kent Interhall Council

Similar to how USG presides over student organizations, KIC is dedicated to serving the university’s on-campus residential community.

KIC’s roots are in its hall councils. These smaller groups are governing bodies for individual residence halls or residential complexes that program events and use funding to build community on an almost grass-roots level.

“You have the power within hall council to make a huge impact for the people you live directly with,” said Andy Sokolich, the president of KIC. “Now whether that’s planning a really fun program that will make people smile or using your money a little bit differently and buying a new TV for a lounge, if you start small with your hall council, you can do big things.”

Kent State College Democrats

One half of the mainstream political spectrum can be found in the Kent State College Democrats.

The Democrats have a very active campus presence. In addition to their weekly meetings, the group organizes initiatives such as voter registration drives to combat voter apathy and educate students as well as members of the community on why it’s important to be politically active and get to the polls during election season.

The Democrats are also very active with the actual Democratic Party. They’ve worked closely with state Reps. Kathleen Clyde and Tim Ryan as well as Sen. Sherrod Brown, and the Democrats have a reputation for being incredibly organized and efficient with campaign work and canvassing for a multitude of Democratic candidates at all levels of government.

Bryan Staul, president of the Kent State College Democrats, said the Democrats provide a variety of leadership opportunities that can really help students considering a future in political work.

“[Working with the Dems] looks great on a résumé, and you gain opportunities to meet potential employers,” Staul said. “You can really make a name for yourself, and you can really set yourself up for some great career opportunities.”

Staul said with this being an election year, the Democrats have big plans in store, and it’s going to be a great time to be involved.

“This semester, we’re going to be the loudest political voice on campus,” Staul said. “And if students really want to gain an inside look at the political process, College Democrats is the best option.”

Kent State College Republicans

On the opposite end of the political spectrum from the Democrats, the Kent State College Republicans work to promote political ideals of the GOP and campaign for its candidates on the local, state and national levels.

In the spring, the Kent State College Republicans hosted the Ohio College Republican Federation’s state convention. The convention was a gathering of various other College Republican groups from other universities across Ohio, along with an assortment of elected Republican officials.

With a presidential election around the corner, the Kent State College Republicans will have an active year ahead as they work with members of the Republican Party of Ohio to get Mitt Romney into the White House.

Spanish and Latino

Student Association

A leading diversity organization founded in 1990, the Spanish and Latino Student Association provides students at Kent State University with programs and events based on Hispanic culture and tradition while fostering acceptance and celebration of the students’ heritage on campus.

SALSA’s official mission statement is to “assist in the success of the Latino students at Kent State University” by representing the minority within the campus community, serving as a link between the administration and Latino students and informing the administration of the community’s concerns.

The group also works to increase awareness of issues of importance to Hispanic and Latino students and facilitate cross-culture interaction.


PRIDE! stands for “People Respecting Individuals’ Diversity and Equality,” and the group works to provide not only a front for activism but also a social outlet for LGBTQ people and heterosexual allies of the community.

Brandon Stephens, PRIDE! Kent’s vice president, said the organization’s presence on campus offers students a place to come where they can feel comfortable with their identities and meet similar individuals.

“I’m from a small area, so I had no [Gay-Straight Alliance] or anything of the sort to experience that sort of activism that is necessary for equality,” Stephens said. “In PRIDE!, I’ve met so many great people who share the same sentiment that we need to work harder to achieve equality and gain the rights that we deserve as human beings.”

Black United Students

The black student movement began in 1961 when the United Christian Fellowship and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People sponsored a lecture by Henry Austin, the public relations director for the Deacons for Defense and Justice.

During his lecture, Austin challenged black students to unite and organize themselves to become a unified body. In 1968, BUS was registered as an official student organization.

Today, BUS continues the goals its founders set long ago. The group strives to combat oppression of African-American people from all walks of life, and, like SALSA and PRIDE! Kent, works toward a greater sense of diversity and acceptance of minorities within the campus community.

Most recently, BUS rallied to raise awareness and protest the controversial killing of Trayvon Martin. The group organized a march across campus as well as a candlelight vigil for the 17-year-old Florida high school student after news of the circumstances of his death surfaced.

These organizations are just a small sampling of what Kent State has to offer. More than 200 others — including club sports, Greek organizations and religious groups — can be found through the Center for Student Involvement or at the Back to School Blastoff, a Welcome Weekend event on Aug. 26 at the track behind the DeWeese Health Center.

In addition to getting involved in a pre-existing club, students also have the option to start their own for any special interests they may have.

Goldring said all it takes is five friends who meet basic GPA and eligibility requirements and a faculty or staff adviser.

The Center for Student Involvement is updating the student organization and registration process to be completely paperless and online. Yvette Mendoza, the senior secretary in the Center for Student Involvement, said that beginning Aug. 23, students can access the new registration system through FlashLine.

Anyone with questions can contact CSI at 330-672-2480, and updates on student organizations’ events and university programs can be found on the “What’s Up Kent State?” page.

Contact Justin Lagore at [email protected].