A variety of new clubs are appearing on campus, serving a broad range of students from bird lovers to LGBTQ students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
These are but a few examples of the clubs recently chartered by the Student Association (SA). The BU Business Fashion Society is geared toward students who wish to pursue business careers in the fashion industry. Out in STEM (oSTEM) is an organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ students with career development opportunities in STEM fields. It is Binghamton University’s branch of a national organization, and members of the BU chapter have access to the national organization’s resources.
BU’s Audubon Society is a chapter of the National Audubon Society, a nonprofit conservation organization that works to protect birds. Lisa Viviano, president of the Audubon Society and a senior majoring in biology, said the Audubon Society’s network was important in its advancement and the creation of its programming at BU.
“[The Audubon Society’s] work includes ambitious conservation and public policy programs, bird science leadership and public engagement and outreach, all made possible by an unparalleled network of grassroots chapters, volunteers, advocates and partner organizations,” Viviano wrote in an email.
According to Viviano, BU’s Audubon Society has been working with Audubon professionals and local wildlife organizations to create its programming.
“We recently collaborated with the Avian Wildlife Center, a not-for-profit wild bird rehabilitation center in New Jersey, who shared a presentation on bird field identification in the Northeast, featuring live raptors over Zoom,” Viviano wrote. “We also plan to create opportunities to practice citizen science on our biweekly bird-watching trips in the Nature Preserve!”
The Audubon Society is still in the process of being fully chartered by the SA, as new clubs must prove the value they add to the campus in order to receive complete SA backing. Viviano expressed gratitude toward her executive board and the SA for their help with the process.
“Despite the pandemic, we have stayed fairly along schedule in terms of the chartering process,” Viviano wrote. “As the founder and current president of [the Audubon Society], I am very lucky to have such a dedicated and hard-working [E-Board] on my side. The [SA] has also been there to help us and answer our questions through every step of the way!”
Domestic and Oppressive Violence Education (DOVE) is another one of the organizations recently chartered by the SA. DOVE is both an educational resource and a support group, serving to educate the student body on domestic and other forms of oppressive violence and to provide a student-run safe place for survivors.
For DOVE, the process of getting chartered was extensive and lasted from April to October of 2020. Isabela Budelmann, president of DOVE and a senior double-majoring in philosophy, politics and law and psychology, discussed the chartering process and offered some advice for those interested in pursuing it.
“While going through this process during the global pandemic presented more challenges, we were fortunate enough to be connected with Kimberly Peabody, [BU’s] director of Health Promotion and Prevention Services (HPPS) and chair of the campus Sexual Assault Response Team (SART), who was extremely supportive of our mission and goals,” Budelmann wrote. “For students looking to form an organization, we recommend that they be extremely organized and informed of the process before pursuing it.”
Budelmann said DOVE is an important organization, especially given the activities and reactions to @shareyourstorybing, an Instagram account created last summer that anonymously published sexual assault survivors’ stories and supportive resources. The fallout from the account, coupled with the efforts of student organizations, has pushed the University to start reforming its policy and attitudes toward sexual assault — including the creation of a Violence, Abuse and Rape Crisis Center (VARCC) in Old Johnson Hall.
“Some of the E-Board are survivors, some are supporters and allies, but all of us felt as though the amount of resources on campus that specifically addressed interpersonal violence was severely limited,” Budelmann wrote. “In particular, we were astonished to discover that there were no student organizations that sought to cultivate explicit conversations on these types of violences. That is why we established DOVE, there was a clear need for it. Since April, that need has only been emphasized as the @shareyourstorybing account was created and many survivors’ stories were brought to light.”
According to Budelmann, DOVE has been working with other student organizations to spread the word about the club and its events during the pandemic.
“The pandemic has presented unique challenges in gaining a strong membership,” Budelmann wrote. “However, we have found that social media has helped us immensely in terms of reaching the student body. We plan on continuing to build our DOVE community by collaborating with other well-known and already established groups here at [BU].”
Kylie Gottlieb, a member of DOVE and a sophomore majoring in human development, spoke about what the club means to her.
“There is a real emphasis in our club on the importance of empowerment: empowerment of ourselves and empowerment in relationships,” Gottlieb wrote. “Every member of our club is there to listen and encourage others, and we welcome all!”