New Clubs, Old Clubs, All the Clubs

International students representing the Southeast Asia Club at CovCon. Photo by Debra Patricia.

International students representing the Southeast Asia Club at CovCon. Photo by Debra Patricia.

A few weeks ago, Cov Con showcased all the clubs Covenant has to offer. With so many groups to choose from, you may have missed a few new clubs, including Covenant Robotics and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, which are in their trial semesters.

Each new club at Covenant must first go through a trial semester, which means they receive no funding during their first semester while they gauge student interest in the club. Student Senate oversees all clubs. Senate determines how much funding each club receives and verifies club leaders are using their funding wisely.

Covenant Robotics has been off to a great start, according to club president Abigail Gianis (‘19). At Cov Con, sixty-one people expressed interest and about thirty-five people have attended each meeting.

Robot parts are expensive, but because this is the club’s trial semester, members had to exhaust other outlets in order to raise money. Covenant Robotics members put on a bake sale during Homecoming Weekend and raised enough funds to put on their first prototyping competition. “We were able to network with so many alumni and parents,” said Gianis.

Gianis is also contacting big organizations like NASA and Boeing, who may be interested in supporting the club. Once they have enough funding, the club will be able to buy equipment for building and programming robots and will be able to enter competitions at other schools.
    Gianis is part of the Dual Degree Engineering program and noticed engineering majors do not have many opportunities to get hands-on experience at Covenant.

“In high school, I was the president of the robotics club for three years. That’s why I’m an engineering major because I loved it so much,” Gianis said.

Dr. Curtis Stern, professor of engineering, took students from his department to Georgia Tech to watch one of their engineering competitions. Gianis thought, “Why can’t we be doing this now at Covenant?”

Stern warned her that starting the club would take a lot of hard work, but Gianis finds it rewarding. “I just see the fruits it’s producing,” she said. Students often come into the engineering program with little or no experience, but Covenant Robotics is helping them get involved with other students in the major.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) is also doing well, according to club president John Mitchell (‘19).

FCA will meet once or twice a month for about an hour to play games, fellowship, and pray. At their first meeting, a trivia night, thirty people showed up, representing every team on campus. They also spent time praying for the teams with games that week.

FCA is a national organization, but Mitchell says the Covenant group will be a little different than most. He compares what most groups do to Hall Prayer and Praise, but he doesn’t want to compete with the ministries Covenant already has.

“In the past, Covenant’s had FCA, and it kind of fizzled out,” Mitchell said. Mitchell had transferred from Mercer University, which had a thriving FCA. Last semester, when Mitchell began working to start FCA, he decided it needed to be a little different at Covenant.

Instead of competing with ministries like Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) or hall life, Mitchell wants FCA to be a place where student athletes can “fellowship for our good and God’s glory.”

Mitchell says there has been a lot of interest in FCA. “It was surprising how many people I don’t know came up and asked me about FCA,” Mitchell said. A Student Senate member also told him a lot of prospective students ask about FCA.

The survival of any campus club depends on the interest of students and whether it fits the needs of the Covenant community. Clubs are usually required to have at least ten active members, unless the nature of the club does not require that many, like the debate team or Laugh Track, according to Student Body Vice President Isaac Van Puffelen (‘19).

If a club does not fulfill its requirements at the end of its trial semester, it may be placed on probation or even dissolved by Student Senate. “There are seasons where clubs have more or less interest,” Van Puffelen said.

Funding for clubs is extracted from the fee every student pays, and Student Senate seeks to steward that money wisely, confirmed Van Puffelen. Each class president serves as a liaison to several clubs, meeting with club leadership every two weeks to get an update on how the club is doing.

The Art club and the Ping Pong club were in their trial semesters last spring and are in their first official semesters now, with funding and “full rights and privileges.”

Abi Ogle (‘18), president of the Art club, said that in a club’s trial semester, “You’re trying to make your idea catch fire, to have people say ‘I want to be a part of that.’”

“It’s tricky, because you want to do something that’s productive,” Ogle said. “You’re looking at how you can be a blessing to the community.”