FIU Gets Involved
By Meliza Frias
Unigo Campus Rep at Florida International University
As you walk into Florida International University you will usually see a few handmade banners. Keep walking and you will find two or three tables with candy and students passing out fliers. This is campus life. Yes, FIU is a commuter college, but that definitely does not mean that our students don’t get involved. “One of the biggest misconceptions is that FIU has no student life, clubs, honor society, and especially Greek life is huge on campus,” said FIU senior Johnny Betancourt, the College of Arts and Science Representative for the Student Government Association and is also a brother of Phi Gamma Delta, known as FIJI.
At FIU we have 11 umbrella organizations with hundreds of clubs and societies. One of the most well-known organizations is the Student Government Association. SGA basically oversees how our University is run from the student perspective. Officials campaign for about a week and are elected into office by students. Besides running for office, students can get involved by applying to be part of cabinets or committees. SGA is run by hundreds of students holding various positions. “SGA is like a microcosm of a real government—it’s a great way to get involved and impact what occurs within your University,” said senior, Marbely Hernandez during an interview earlier this semester while she was President of SGA. SGA also offers students an internship opportunity. Students apply for this position and if selected they shadow one officer for an entire year in order to gain a greater understand of that position and SGA in general.
Another big on campus organization is the Student Programming Council. SPC plans social, educational, cultural and recreational activities for students year-round. It is split up into various committees from the films committee to heritage committee and students can join according to their interests. Each committee is in charge of planning events related to their title and they all come together to plan greater events like concerts or comedy shows. Recently, SPC brought Fabulous and One Republic to campus for a live, four-hour concert. Each student received two free tickets. “The concert was so much fun and so packed, we had to stand, but it was worth it!” said sophomore, Vanessa Giralba. SPC is known for bringing big names to campus, like Pauly Shore, Gloria Estefan, Mario Mencia and many more. All their events are free for FIU students plus one guest each, and come with great giveaways like panther bandanas, water bottles, and T-shirts.
The next largest organization is the Student Organization Council which oversees all the clubs on campus. SOC officials are assigned tasks from ensuring that clubs are active to appropriating the budget. Students can join SOC or can join one of the hundreds of clubs it oversees. At FIU there is a club for everything and anything you can imagine, from writing to dancing to community service. And if none of the clubs fits what you are looking for, you can create one. At the beginning of the fall semester a group of students felt FIU did not have an environmental awareness club that was truly active and so they started one. All you need is a list of interested members, officers, a faculty advisor, and a list of goals and objective for the club you are initiating. Now, the Student Environmental Association is well-known on campus and recently just held our first Earth Day Fest. “It’s incredible how much SEA has grown in such little time; they have signs everywhere with environmental awareness tips and activities. I think everyone knows who they are by now,” said sophomore Andres Rodriguez. Besides SOC there is also the Honors Council which oversees all the honor societies. To be part of an Honor Society you have to meet a certain GPA requirement (usually 3.0 or higher) and have a certain number of credits under that particular subject area. We also have a Multifaith Council, which oversees all the religious organizations, and Homecoming Council, which plans all the events that occur during homecoming week, from floats to comedy shows and pep rallies.
SGA, SPC and our various organization and society councils are a big part of what makes FIU an active campus filled with student life in every corner. But Greek life is definitely the best-known and largest organization. It is composed of 26 fraternities and sororities that offer students the opportunity to meet new people, organize events, and compete in intramural athletics. The downside is that Greek organizations do usually come with a hefty membership fee, unlike most other organizations on campus. A good way to determine whether Greek life is for you is to participate in rush week. This is absolutely free and it is a week dedicated to meeting all the fraternities and sororities and finding out what exactly each does. Also, unlike clubs or societies, becoming Greek is a lifetime commitment. Once you become a brother or sister you vow your loyalty to that organization so it’s important that you select one that truly fits who you are and what you want out of life. Due to the commitment that comes with going Greek it usually turns out that Greek students are also involved in everything else on campus. So you will commonly hear students utter that FIU is run by Greeks.
The truth is you do not have to go Greek to be involved on campus, you just have to want to be involved. Dealing with weekly meetings, planning events, promoting, and hoping everything turns out perfect (which it won’t) can become quite a hassle. That’s why most students prefer to go to class and go home. But that means missing out on what it means to be a college student, and it also doesn’t do much for your resume. Getting involved teaches you the leadership, organization, and networking skills you need to be successful in the future. As you begin to join the many, many organizations there are at FIU you will meet new people and start having more reasons than simply class to come to your university. After all, you are paying to be here, so why not make the most out of it?