Spring semester has begun, which means a pseudo-clean slate halfway through the academic year. You have the chance to actually enforce those new study habits, start using the East Gym membership you forgot you paid for and get involved on campus like you promised yourself you would in the fall. At Binghamton University, the small window of time we know as General Interest Meeting (GIM) Season must be used wisely. The hundreds of student organizations at BU hold GIMs to attract new members, and they’re the best way to learn what a club is all about with no strings attached. So here’s a guide to guarantee a busier, more fulfilling semester when it comes to clubs.

The first step to making the most of GIMs is finding out when and where they are. Check B-line daily, dig through the layers of fliers in Lecture Hall or ask your friends about meeting times and places. We all know you’re not getting ahead of reading during the first week of class, so go to a couple of meetings in your free time instead. Attending GIMs doesn’t mean you’re a part of the club, so if you go to a book club GIM only to receive a jam-packed syllabus for your English class the next day, don’t freak out. GIMs are meant to give you a feel for what a club or organization does, what the time commitment is like and when meetings are. Don’t skip out on a GIM just because you’re hesitant, but don’t feel pressured to commit right away.

There are clubs and organizations on campus for every area of interest, from a cappella to hula hooping, so don’t be afraid to try something totally new or out of your comfort zone. Environmental studies majors, feel free to join a sustainability club like Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (IDEAS), but checking out a dance organization could uncover a hidden love for ballroom. If you’re into activism, there are plenty of politically-conscious groups on campus, like the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) and College Republicans. At the same time, clubs are about experiences you can’t get from your classes. Outdoors Club organizes trips every weekend, and our radio station, WHRW 90.5 FM, puts students in charge of what plays over the airwaves. During the first few weeks of classes, choose GIMs based on your interests and passions, but also try branching out into something different. Most clubs, like Ballroom Dance Association or Guitar Club, accept and encourage members from all levels of experience and even offer lessons, so don’t be intimidated if you’re a beginner.

If anything, college students love free food, and most GIMs use this knowledge to lure in new members. It’s called Nirchi’s. If you want to get a head start on saving up your meal plan, scan B-line for descriptions that include “free pizza.” Skip dinner, bring your suitemates along and use your free time on something other than Netflix (we all know you did plenty of bingeing over winter break). Whether you want to make a difference, make new friends or just try something new, use GIM Season as a way to break the boring routine of class, eat, sleep, party, repeat.

With that said, see you at Pipe Dream’s spring GIM!