Starting a YAL Chapter on any campus poses challenges. Whether it’s dealing with a biased administration, or a small student body, we have all experienced a difficult time setting up or maintaining our chapters. Below I have listed 5 tips for those at smaller schools out there, like Saint Vincent College, who sometimes need some encouragement to keep their chapter alive and engaged on campus.
1. Dream big, but expect less: Although it would be fantastic to have a YAL chapter of 50 people on a 1,500-person campus, it is unrealistic. Small college campuses bring with them a large commuter population, and an often disconnected student body. At your first meeting you may have two people, but don’t feel discouraged. Make your best impression on those two, and they will tell others, and soon the number of people who know about your chapter will be significant.
2. Keep an open mind about tabling numbers: To go along with the last point, do not feel discouraged if a large portion of the people you got to sign up at a tabling session, do not show up. You can email, text, and call them, but they are either busy, or they just don’t care. Just remember that if you make a strong impact on a few, it will influence the many.
3. Social media, always: Regardless of whether you are a small or large school, social media is your best weapon to get out your message on campus. This means create a Facebook page (that you update often), and post all your meetings and events on your college’s main portal/activities board. Help the student body realize that you are active, and not one of the many dormant clubs on campus.
Facebook is also a great tool when it comes to searching for people on your campus with shared interests. For instance, say you typed into Facebook, “people who go to ‘Saint Vincent College’ that like ‘Ron Paul’.” What would pop up would be all current and former students of your college, that like Ron Paul. Don’t be afraid to add these people and start a discussion.
4. Find allies in professors: One of the upsides of going to a small school is that you generally know most of the professors on a first name basis. This type of relationship helps spread YAL not just through the student body, but also the academic community. Professors will help you by letting their classes know about your events and meetings, and may even help you organize speakers and different events.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask other groups on campus for help: Whether it be connecting with the College Democrats, College Republicans, or any other club on campus, remember that making connections with these different groups will help the message of your chapter spread further. Whether it be teaming up to create an activism project, or sitting in on each other’s meetings to advertise for your own event, it is better to make allies on a small campus, rather than enemies.
I hope that these 5 tips have given you the motivation to continue to work hard for the chapter on your small college campus, and given you ideas for the future.
For liberty.Published in