Known as a large and diverse campus, Stony Brook University is the sort of place students–especially new students–may find to be intimidating, especially when it comes time to find a niche. But because of the university’s diverse student body, there are clubs that reflect diverse interests.

 RHA

A good first step for students is to consider residence status. “Residence Hall Association is a student advocacy group which represents and protects the rights, views, and concerns of students living on campus,” RHA President Michael Duffy, a senior psychology major, said.

RHA provides students with leadership opportunities and ways to get involved in campus life both inside and outside the organization. Outside organizations often participate in the general body meetings while they discuss events that cater to the interest of students all over campus.

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Every year, RHA holds a Block Party in the SAC Plaza during opening weekend. The organization attracts the interest of students each year through the infamous Ice Cream social, held at the beginning of the semester.

And February brings RHA’s Superbowl Party, complete with free snacks. They also sponsor a Bone Marrow Drive with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), National Residency Hall Honorary (NRHH) and Seawolves Against Cancer.

CSA

For those students who commute, Stony Brook’s Commuter Student Association might hold interest.

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“[CSA] strives to provide commuter students with opportunities to get involved in student life, to connect with other commuter students, and to gain access to educational opportunities,” CSA President Joy Pawirosetiko, a senior biology major, said.

CSA understands that some events may be difficult for commuters to attend and thus, make some of the students feel somewhat disconnected from campus life. CSA takes into consideration these limits when holding events meant for commuters.

The organization’s events, Pawirosetiko continued, “are more convenient for commuters, cater to commuters, or would be appealing to commuter students.”

CSA’s most popular event  is Relax-A-thon, held close to midterm week, where the group provides a relaxing environment for students complete with free massages, food and airbrushed hats and shirts.

It also hosts a Welcome Back Breakfast, drive-on movies, outings, and community service opportunities. And in the spring semester, CSA holds the annual CSA Ball and Casino Night.

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 OOSSA

For non-New Yorkers, the Out of State Student Association provides a welcoming environment. New York has plenty of activities to offer its residents and by joining OOSSA, out-of-state students will have the opportunity to make new friends while exploring Long Island and Manhattan.

“The mission of our club is to help students get involved and make their time at Stony Brook University the best it can be,” Pratha Katti, a junior biomedical engineering major and president of OOSSA, said.

OOSSA is an events-based club, but also gives its members an opportunity to give back to the community through service and mentorship.

The club’s past events included trips to Manhattan to see Broadway shows like “Lion King” and “Phantom of the Opera,” t-shirt tie-dyeing and Open Mic Night. They plan on hosting these events again along with a homecoming tail-gate, beach trips, bowling trips and a Thanksgiving dinner.

Political Organizations

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For the political-minded students are the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

Ian Schwarz, a member of the College Democrats, speaks at a debate held last year. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)
Ian Schwarz, a member of the College Democrats, speaks at a debate held last year. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)

The College Democrats is a chartered chapter of the College Democrats of New York and the College Democrats of America. Members of the club get the opportunity to attend state and national conferences every year. Their strong connections with these organizations aid in connecting members with internship and volunteer opportunities to help build strong resumes.

“One of our favorite aspects of the group is getting to build friendships with like-minded people,” College Democrats president Rachel Clark, a senior political science major, said. “We like to balance out some of the more serious work with fun events.”

Their events in the past included trips to Manhattan for a taping of “The Daily Show,” canvassing and phone banking for President Barack Obama and Representative Tim Bishop, on-campus screenings of political movies and television shows like “Milk” and “The West Wing” and debates  within the club and with the College Republicans.

The College Democrats plan on holding similar events this semester. They will also be involved in local elections as well as attend another taping of “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report.” Of course, debates will still occur as well as meetings spent talking about current events.

The College Republicans is also a politics-based club. The organization welcomes students who “are looking to getting connected politically, expose [themselves] to some really intriguing viewpoints, and meet well-known political figures,” College Republicans president Laura Doukas, a sophomore business major, said.

The College Republicans welcomes and encourages students from any political spectrum to join meetings or attend an event, where they interact with other students and debate various topics and issues, even the controversial ones. In an event like “Meet the Senators,” for example, students get the opportunity to network with political officials and make impressive connections.

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“Our theme this year is collaboration,” Doukas said. “We realize the importance of openly discussing and implementing ideas that will advance our country without compromising its values.”

So if politics and debate are your cups of tea, the College Democrats and Republicans are worth a look.

 ASBO

Enjoy volunteering and helping the community? Stony Brook has clubs such as Alternative Spring Break Outreach (ASBO) that gives you the chance to volunteer in community service projects.

Every year, ASBO travels to a different state to help a community through either disaster relief or start-up projects. (PHOTO CREDIT: COMMUNITY OF AWESOME)
Every year, ASBO travels to a different state to help a community through either disaster relief or start-up projects. (PHOTO CREDIT: COMMUNITY OF AWESOME)

Seniors and ASBO co-presidents Shanvil Bilal, a biology major, and Emily Torkel, a psychology and sociology major, describe the organization as “a student-developed, student-run community service organization whose mission is to promote community development and growth.”

In the spring of every year, the Friday before spring break, ASBO travels to a different state where they help out the community. They have two different groups who focus on different types of services like disaster relief and community start-up projects.

Last year, during Hurricane Sandy for example, ASBO helped out with Sandy relief almost every day, even heading out to Mastic-Shirley with a bus full of volunteer Seawolves.

ASBO also welcomes non-members to join them in their weekly excursions where they work alongside organizations such as AmeriCorps, New York Cares, Long Island Harvest and Long Island Cares.

So if you want an opportunity to make a difference in the community, consider joining ASBO in their mission to make the world a better place.

 Belly Dancing Club

What if you’d like something more along the lines of recreation? Stony Brook’s Belly Dancing Club is one of the most well-known recreational organizations on campus. They welcome the ladies, and maybe the few brave men, of Stony Brook to learn the basics of belly dance and give them an opportunity to perform in colorful costumes.

The Belly Dancing Club not only performs at campus events, but also hosts a weekly class at the Campus Recreation Center. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)
The Belly Dancing Club not only performs at campus events, but also hosts a weekly class at the Campus Recreation Center. (NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN)

“Belly Dance is a celebration of the body,” SB Belly Dancers president Kia Valkonen, a senior history major, said. “And it lets you forget about your stress and worry as you literally shake it off.”

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The club is composed of two parts. One part is the general weekly practices where any student interested is welcome to participate and learn the dance. They also hold classes through Campus Recreation. No experience is necessary, they only start with the basics, and, if you’re a little self-conscious, there is no need to show your belly.

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The other part is the performance troupe, consisting of ten students who try out for a spot in September. These ten members then train and work with a professional belly dancer on more complicated choreography. They perform in various SBU events such as the Multicultural Showcase and the Food Tasting event in the spring.

So if you’re looking to dance and to try and have the opportunity to perform on campus, give belly dancing a try. Your belly may be able to do things it could never do before.

Quidditch Team

If you’re an athlete with a secret love for the Harry Potter series, or if you’re just a huge Harry Potter fan in general, there is a club for you. Stony Brook University has its own Quidditch Team.

Quidditch, a fictional sport in the Harry Potter universe, became an official sport in 2005 and Stony Brook’s team has already participated in various Quidditch tournaments since its establishment in 2010.

Quidditch team President Ryan Sebade, a sophomore computer science major, describes the game as “a combination of rugby, dodge ball, and basketball, with a side game of full contact tag.”

The game goes exactly as it do in the series, with chasers, beaters, keepers and a seeker. A deflated volleyball serves as the quaffle and dodge balls serve as the bludgers. But the highlight of the game is the Golden Snitch, a volunteer referee dressed in gold, who usually leaves the pitch, waiting for the seekers to find him.

Sebade says that the members of the team can be competitive and whimsical at the same time and because “it came from Harry Potter, there will always be a bit of nerdy-ness in the sport.”

Although the team has not hosted any tournaments since the spring of 2012, they still participate in tournaments in other schools such as Hofstra, Manhattan, Philadelphia and Rhode Island. They hope to host a tournament at Stony Brook this year.

So if you see a band of students on brooms outside the Physics building during campus lifetime, that’s the Quidditch team. Join them and share your love for sports and Harry Potter.

Of course, these organizations are not the only notable clubs found in Stony Brook. There are dozens of student government-based clubs, culture clubs, special interest clubs, religious clubs, sports clubs, music clubs, art clubs and even circus clubs to choose from. Your head might spin and ache from the indecision. But the presence of these clubs assures that you will find your place in a pack of Seawolves.

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