Want to change the world? Try joining a club. Organizations such as these give you the perfect opportunity to connect with fellow students. They also provide you with the chance to learn about various events and changes affecting the community. Whether the issues involve political, social or educational aspects on campus, you’ll find a club for you.
Instead of spending your time watching old sitcoms on Netflix, get involved with one of these 10 organizations at UF.
1. Islam on Campus
This student run organization focuses on uniting the Muslim community through service, activism, education and social activities. They host live events such as a Fast-A-Thon, an event where students pledge to not eat or drink anything during the day, to raise money with the main purpose of giving back to local charities. After the sun sets, fasting and non-fasting students come together to feast for free. What college student doesn’t like free food? “We push for equal opportunity, we’re not just a resource for Muslim students at UF but everybody regardless of racial profile,” said President Onais Tariq. “When something hateful happens on campus, we emphasize everyone has an individual voice.”
2. Equal Access Clinic Network
These student-run clinics are free to underserved people in the Gainesville community. Established by the UF College of Medicine, they serve about 1,500 patients a year and include specialty clinics such as occupational therapy, physical therapy and a women’s services clinic. Students learn the inner workings of the health care system and people in the community get the health care they need and deserve. Really, it’s a win-win for all. “Research suggests that primary care is essential for the long term health of individuals of a community, low income patients typically don’t have access to this, so they only go to a medical professional when they have a severe medical emergency, which is expensive,” Executive Director Adam Grippin said. “It’s important that we have opportunities available to the underrepresented population.”
3. Pride Student Union
This social, educational and support organization provides a welcoming space for people of any identity. April is Pride Awareness Month (PAM), and UF holds the largest LGBTQ+ student-run event series in the nation. Events include drag shows, gay blood drives and guest speakers who discuss the intersections of race and sexuality. “Beyond trying to educate people, or enact social change, PAM provides an opportunity for LGBTQ+ people to experience community with each other in a space that celebrates our existence and achievements,” said President Taylor Baker. “Our members come from a variety of backgrounds with [the] ability to be out, be safe, and be comfortable.”
4. Jewish Student Union
JSU serves both Jewish and non-Jewish students interested in exploring the cultural history and diverse experiences of Judaism. With various anti-Semitic issues that have occurred on campus, the organization remains steadfast in representing their culture and religion positively by recently hosting people like Hen Mazzig, an openly gay former IDF commander. Not only do they have events for Passover where they serve delicious food, but they also recently hosted a Playing for Peace concert. The event celebrated native Jewish and Arab music, both serving as important aspects to understanding the culture of Jewish people.
5. Generation Action
This campus affiliate of Planned Parenthood works on campus to promote awareness and education about women’s reproductive and sexual health. While supporting the local Planned Parenthood, they also organize meetings with local professionals to talk about the misconceptions about abortions and the importance of having the rights to one’s body. Members also contribute to these meetings with their own experiences. “We promote equality largely through education, focusing on sexual health and reproductive justice for all,” Vice-President Tessa Walters said. “It is extremely important in this political climate to have informative discussions about vital organizations like Planned Parenthood.”
6. Black Student Union
BSU gives a voice to the issues black students face on campus. With student protests dating all the way back to the late 1960s at UF, the organization marks itself as a home away from home for many black students while making visible the issues black students face to all. They hold events like Story of Hope where known names in the Black Lives Matter movement such as Michael Brown Sr., father of Michael Brown, and Sharon Cooper, sister of Sandra Bland, spoke. Both discussed the issues facing black people as well as ways to organize and learn from these tragedies. On a less serious note, if you’re into sports, they even held their own version of March Madness where all the proceeds earned went to charity. Boasting fun, games and a good cause, this organization provides a full circle of opportunities and growth. What more could you need?
7. Hispanic Student Association
Hispanic Student Association brings together Hispanic and non-Hispanic students alike to immerse themselves into the Hispanic-Latino community in Gainesville. The organization provides events focusing on a range of culture and education celebrations such as music, literature, dance and discussions. Their annual Noche de Gala event has proven itself as a night full of fun. Friends come together and dawn their nicest semi-formal attire in the ultimate celebration of culture and accomplishments made in the community during that year.
8. National Alliance on Mental Health: A Helping Hand for Gators
NAMI raises awareness on the issue of mental health while also breaking down the barriers of the stigma attached to the subject. “It’s important for people to be able to talk about mental health without judgment. Stigma is dangerous because it can prevent people from seeking help,”President Alexis Elvy said. “Having a welcoming space to talk about mental health can encourage those who need treatment to seek it earlier, and encourage others to be more understanding.” Feeling overwhelmed by classes and adult responsibilities will happen, but knowing you have resources can come as a relief. “We want to send out the message that there are many people on campus who want to help.”
9. She’s the First
This non-profit organization sponsors girls’ education around the world. From leadership to a sense of community and global citizenship, She’s the First makes a lasting impact on underprivileged girls, many of whom will be the first in their families to graduate. The members of the organization help promote equality locally with the annual fundraiser with Patticakes, a local coffee and cupcake shop. Members make tie-dye cupcakes and Patticakes sells them at their stores. You’ll also find a volunteer program set up with Girls Place where members can help girls with their homework at the after school program. “When we educate girls, we are changing global economies which then in turn creates an equal society for all,” President Jacqulyn Hoza said.
10. Gators for Environmental Community Outreach
This organization caters to the environmental obsessed and those who want to learn more about the importance of our world’s natural resources. GECO strives for environmental equality by educating students with outings, outreach, community projects and guest lecturers. In addition, they promote collection days people in the community can drop off their old hazardous or electronic waste. Still not sold? GECO teamed up with the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Club to tend the student gardens. They harvested plants and members got to go home with all the fresh vegetables their hearts desired. This organization pushes for equality on the environmental front, but can easily translate into equality for the community at large.