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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Unique clubs reflect diversity of student interests

Published: September 21, 2012
Section: Features

Brandeis boasts its collection of more than 125 clubs, which vary from dance clubs to pre-law. Some of Brandeis’ clubs verge on being labeled as unusual, yet Elly Kalfus ’12, a member of the Brandeis Finance Board insists that “we try to give all clubs money, the only reason we wouldn’t give a club money is if none of their requests were allowed to fund based on the scope.”
Kalfus defines the “scope” as a document that is available online, detailing appropriate activities that clubs are allowed to participate in while using university funds. Kalfus gives the example of giving gifts to club presidents, saying “we don’t want to give clubs money for gifts for a specific student.”
The scope is updated each year and depends on university rules, and each club is evaluated using its criteria. During Finance Board Meetings, which ran last week, the Finance Board evaluates applications from each club, examining their own budget and appropriating money. Kalfus does admit “we have a budget based on how we get 1 percent of student tuition, but because clubs over request we always have to cut some things.”
Despite the cuts in funds that some clubs endure, Kalfus believes it is appropriate to give all chartered clubs money, stating that, “we see giving clubs money as improving quality of student life.”
Clubs such as Skydiving and the Brandeis Cheese Club believe that they use their money from Finance Board in important ways, bringing unique opportunities to campus. Ariana Schache, president of Skydiving Club, explains that Brandeis finances “money for jumps, a discount of $50 per jump. If you went [skydiving] alone it would be $234 dollars, with a group of 30 people or more $175 dollars. Then we get a $50 discount so it is $125 per person. That’s all the money we ask.”
Grateful for the money from Finance Board, Schache stated, “We don’t ask them for that much for different events, it is very basic stuff and without it our club would be gone, and they’ve been pretty understanding about it in the past.”
Schache expounded on the draw of her club, explaining that there are 800 people on the listserv and approximately 100 people will register to go skydiving. The club is so popular that some students get stuck on the waitlist. Schache describes it as “the most amazing experience I’ve ever done. I strongly believe everybody should skydive. If you are scared of heights it will get you out of it, and if you’re not, you are flying.” Schache also believes that Skydiving Club gives Brandeis a certain flair that more average clubs lack. “It has a personality, kind of a danger side, an adventurous side that people may not get from like a newspaper. If you are jumping out of a plane it’s like one of those things that if they didn’t exist, you maybe wouldn’t wish for it, but since its here it is so cool.”
Padraig Murphy, president of Cheese Club, explains that his club “is so marketable, I think Brandeis likes to promote it exists because they like the idea of people socializing and enjoying food.” Cheese Club uses their money from Finance Board to fund five to six cheese tastings a semester, spending up to $300 a meeting on fancy cheeses. Cheese ranges from $28 to $40 a pound, including extremely expensive varieties such as truffle cheeses.
Murphy explains that at each meeting he usually “construct[s] a theme or a collection based on a country; I pick a region and stick to it. We try to spend three minutes in the beginning, explaining the cheeses, making it somewhat educational.” Cheese Club is also immensely popular, with up to 100 people attending a cheese tasting. Murphy also believes that it is unique because of its low commitment. “It is rewarding. It’s one of those clubs where the members don’t have to do anything; they get a lot just by coming.”
Kalfus explained that she first got involved with Finance Board because of a desire to make funding more accessible to students who wanted to plan events.
Originally attempting to bring “The Whitest Kids You Know” to campus, Kalfus commented, “I had no idea how to get funding or anything. I went through this whole process with emailing everyone and very few people replied, and then we couldn’t get a space on the right night and in the end it didn’t happen.”
Kalfus was extremely disheartened by her experience. After that she decided to run for Finance Board. “I was like, I have to change [this system] and make it easier for people.” Now on Finance Board, Kalfus emphasized the importance of giving money to all kinds of student events and clubs. While it is not up to Finance Board to judge what qualifies as a club (the Brandeis Senate decides that), the money it dolls out improves student life.
“If students are going to student events, we want to keep having that club help students,” Kalfus states. She vouches for Skydiving Club, saying “I think there are some clubs that students may not ever be able to do in their lives since they are so expensive, such as skydiving. We are giving them an opportunity they may not have at any other time because we are able to subsidize it.”
Murphy commented on how “Brandeis markets the Cheese Club; on every tour I’ve joined up on I’ve heard admission officers say it.”
He believes it attracts both parents and students to the school. Kalfus declares that the varied and numerous clubs that Brandeis possesses are simply adding diversity to campus, including interesting activities that are “just reflected by the student body.” Brandeis is a unique school with students who are invested in a great many things. Brandeis Finance Board serves to finance whatever it is that students find enticing, be it cheese or the crew team.