The “do your own thing” spirit is alive and well today at Longwood when it comes to student organizations.
Can’t find a club focused on what makes you tick? Create a new one!
That’s just what Lewis Jackson ’22 did when he founded The WOOD, one of the nine new clubs that gained official status in 2020-21.
“The WOOD is the first-ever creative community built to fit all creatives regardless of art form or medium and inclusive of all majors as well as all levels of experience,” said Jackson, an elementary and middle-school education major from Virginia Beach. Members include photographers, videographers, music producers, musicians and graphic designers.
There are currently close to 200 student organizations at Longwood, but there’s always room for one more—if students are committed to the approval process, which is managed by the Student Government Association. The other clubs gaining official status this year were
- French Language and Culture Club
- Fellowship of Christian Athletes
- 6 String Society (guitarists)
- First Lancers Connect (first-generation college students)
- Invitation to Freedom (spiritual life)
- Greeks for Change
- Army ROTC
- Minority Student Investment Club
Shannon Lyons ’21, a nursing major from Centreville, spearheaded the effort to create Greeks for Change during her senior year and served as president. She graduated in May, but her passion for the group remains strong.
“Topics that are hard-hitting and tricky to talk about—like hazing prevention and diversity and inclusion—are commonly ignored on some campuses. A group of my peers and I wanted to make sure they were discussed at Longwood.”
Because—rightly or wrongly—these types of issues are often associated with Greek life, the leaders of Greeks for Change thought it was important that the club be devoted to members of fraternities and sororities instead of open to the entire student body as other clubs are. That made getting approval more challenging than usual—and a potent experience in leadership and perseverance.
“It may have taken a year to get approved, but I was not giving up,” said Lyons. “This is a voice that the Longwood community needs.”
I tell my mentees all the time that, if there’s not something here for you and your interest, create it. Nine times out of 10, there’s another person on campus who’s feeling the same way you do about the same thing.Lewis Jackson ’22 Tweet This
DeShane Short ’22 also strongly feels there is a need for his club, First Lancers Connect. “It is important to have at Longwood because there are so many first-generation students who have questions and need a resource to get help,” he said.
For students who are the first in their families to attend college, issues such as finding financial aid, fitting into the college environment, registering for classes and accessing campus resources can be overwhelming, he said. Among the assistance the group plans to provide in the coming year are pairing a student with a faculty or staff mentor and bringing in guest speakers with expertise that applies to first-gen issues, he added.
Some clubs are more serious while others are just about hanging out and having fun with fellow students who share an interest.
The 6 String Society brings together students who play the guitar, from acoustic to electric, and classical to classic rock, said Brady Hurlich ’23, a special education major from Sterling who is the current president of the club. And in the true spirit of inclusion, anyone who plays any instrument or sings is welcome to join, too.
They’ve had jam sessions outside on campus, livestreamed their music on Instagram and even been featured on WMLU, Longwood’s radio station. They plan to continue those activities in the coming year.
[The First Lancers Connect club] is important to have at Longwood because there are so many first-generation students who have questions and need a resource to get help.DeShane Short ’22 Tweet This
And what will The WOOD be up to this year?
They’ll be bringing their talents together in a variety of projects, including offering their creative services—whether that’s taking photos, designing posters or strategizing a social media campaign—to the Farmville business community as a way to build their portfolios.
“Longwood is so full of people who are crazy talented,” said Jackson. “I hate when people feel they have to go to Richmond to find some sort of creativity. I want to say, ‘Hey, It’s right here.’”
A peer mentor, Jackson had been thinking about starting an organization like The WOOD since his freshman year.
“I tell my mentees all the time that, if there’s not something here for you and your interest, create it,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, there’s another person on campus who’s feeling the same way you do about the same thing.
“I decided it was time to take my own advice.”
Leave a Comment