Rich Kelley and Cheryl Vargas sit around a table with SJSU students surrounded by trees at the 2010 A.S. Retreat.

Growth In Clubs and Organizations Creates New Campus Vibe

By Ryan Whitchurch, Public Affairs Assistant

students gathered around in a circle listening to Blake Balajadia present at the Fraternal Values Summit in 2011.

Blake Balajadia presents to students at the 2011 Fraternal Values Summit.

The moment he stepped onto campus in fall 2008, Cesar Delgadillo, a fourth-year design studies major, felt a sense of pride for San Jose State University based on his freshmen orientation experience.

“I remember seeing the connection all of the orientation leaders had with one another,” said Delgadillo. “This made me want to get more involved so that I could have similar connections during my college career, and I’m happy that I did.”

The next year, Delgadillo applied to become a Frosh Orientation leader and was granted the position. Since acquiring this role, Delgadillo has joined a number of other campus organizations that he feels have helped him become more comfortable with himself and his leadership capabilities.

Today at SJSU, the number of students involved on campus is on the rise, creating a spike in the number of campus clubs and organizations and some impressive participation numbers. Associate Director of Student Involvement Emily Bauer says the unprecedented amount of students getting involved is creating a shift in campus culture.

“When I came in 2007, it seemed like people just went about their business and went home,” Bauer said. “These days, we have seen an increase in participation in all programs making SJSU a destination campus that students want to come to.”

In 2006, there were 225 on-campus organizations at SJSU. Today there are 359 student organizations, and Bauer expects this number will grow to around 400 organizations by the end of the year.

“On campus today there’s a different feeling,” said Blake Balajadia, assistant director for fraternity and sorority life. “the university is coming alive like never before.”

Students that get involved in a campus club, organization, leadership role or Greek life reap plenty of benefits, Balajadia said. Building a greater connection to SJSU propels students towards graduation and establish networks that may help them secure a job after graduation, he said.

“I always urge students to take a chance and check out a club or event that interests them,”  Balajadia said, “If all you walk out of this university with is a piece of paper, you’re really missing out.”

San Jose State is also making sure new Spartans connect with the university from their first day on campus. SJSU’s Frosh Orientation, a mandatory overnight program for incoming freshmen, is setting a new standard for students and is a driving force behind the increasing involvement trends.

“This past summer, the Frosh Orientation program, served nearly 4,300 students and 1,600 family members,” said Director of Student Involvement Richard Kelley.

Kelley said this year’s summer program had the largest class to date and received its highest evaluation and assessment scores in its 10-year history. A turning points in creating more campus pride began with increased support from former President Don Kassing.

“He made creating a sense of connection and pride at SJSU a priority,” Kelley said. “It was only when engagement and involvement became priorities that our campus could see change.”

Five years later, an increase in enrollment paired with a shift in campus participation from students hungrier to get more involved has SJSU’s campus life flourishing.

“There is a bigger sense of community on campus. I would say it just feels different and it feels great!” Bauer said. “People are excited to be here and want to make the most of their time at SJSU.”

Students can learn more about the organizations on campus and how to get involved by visiting, or attending an event for an on campus club or organization.