One of the most common struggles faced by distance learners everywhere is isolation: the feeling that You’re alone in your studies. Often, It’s nice just to have someone in a similar program or situation to talk to, and That’s where student clubs can help.
According to the AUSU website, ?outside of education, one of the most important aspects of university life is the people you meet, the sharing of ideas, and the friends you make,? and this can be even more important for the distance education student than the traditional university student, ?because they lack the context of physical connections with others.?
To help AU students form these important connections with others, there exist a number of student clubs and societies ranging from those ?of an academic flavour,? such as the AU Psychology Students? Society or AU Business Students’ Association, to those ?concentrating on religion, sport, ethnicity, culture, or anything else that you desire,? such as the AU Student Moms Club or AU Gay Students? Society.
These clubs are led by interested student volunteers, and are provided by the students’ union with a free website, email address, and private forum. Club chairs are also permitted to apply to AUSU for additional funding for special projects. And while a current list of existing student clubs can be found on the AUSU website, students who don’t find a group that appeals to them are always able to contact the union about forming a new club.
According to AUSU Policy 7.05 – Student Clubs, students interested in creating a new group ?shall contact the executive director with a proposal which shall contain the title of the proposed club, a definition of the club membership, and the subject or special interest area that a club will represent,? and if no such club currently exists, the executive director will give the student their blessing to seek additional members. To become an officially sanctioned AUSU club, the student must present a list of the forum usernames of 10 AU students who are interested in joining, as well as the name of one other student willing to serve as a chair of the group.
Andrea Buck is an AU student who has been active in the Student Moms Club since 2004. ?I found out about the SMC shortly after I joined AUSU.org online,? she says. ?I noticed it was one of the few listed clubs at that time on the forum, so I clicked on it and sent an email to join!?
One thing that frustrates Buck about clubs in general is ?the lack of participation in certain clubs,? explaining that some are often ?very slow. People start them with enthusiasm but there is never any discussion on them, and I find it hard to keep them going.?
Buck says that she does enjoy, however, ?being able to seek parenting advice from others [in the SMC forums], as well as the feeling of being connected to my school and my peers, since distance learning can be somewhat isolating at times . . . I really enjoy all the ladies in the SMC; they are so supportive and wonderful. I am grateful to be a part of the group! It really does feel like a close-knit set of friends when we get chatting, and I feel blessed to be a part of it!?