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From stars to clothes, six student orgs for you

October 3, 2023 By Xinlin Jiang

With nearly 1,000 clubs and organizations to choose from, UW–Madison students face a vast landscape of opportunities. 

Each club is a window into a different facet of student life, covering everything from politics and sports to publications and career development.

The recent student org fair was full of students eager to find the club that fit them. “I’ve heard lots of people say an integral part of being in college is getting involved in clubs. So, I’m here to check it out,” freshman Gavin Rhodes said.

Here’s a closer look at six student clubs. They all offer the same message to students: Take the plunge and engage.

UW Roundnet Club

Members of the Roundnet Club compete in a tournament. Photo by Wyatt Ystesund

Who they are: Roundnet Club is a group based on the game of roundnet, more commonly known as Spikeball. The club aims to provide the opportunity for veteran spikeballers and newcomers alike to participate in the exciting sport. Open net play provides a laid-back atmosphere for match play and picking up the basics of the game. On-campus tournaments will provide a competitive atmosphere for seasoned veterans.

Why join: “This club is very unique and special because spikeball is a tournament that’s very accessible to all sorts of people. It’s incredibly easy to pick up. You can play anywhere with anyone. It is of utmost importance that you find some community that is meaningful to you. For us, it’s a sports community. And it’s a place where we get to go to get some physical energy out and just have a great time,” Wyatt Ystesund said.

Advice for freshmen: “Take that time in your week to go out and have some fun outside,” Ystesund said.

Mock Trial at UW–Madison

“Mockers” clown around before a recent competition. Photo by Margaret Mueller

Who they are: The team is an American Mock Trial Association-certified, student-run mock trial program. The UW–Madison undergraduate mockers currently consist of two teams of ten members each. Its purpose is to provide members with the opportunity to practice public speaking skills and learn about our legal system. Members help each other analyze case materials, craft legal arguments, and develop competition strategies. Members travel all over the country for competitions about once a month, beginning in October or November. All members compete as attorneys and/or witnesses throughout the year. The team is viewed by competitors as a friendly, good-humored bunch. For them, mock trial is not solely about performances and competition, but the people. They love spending time with each other and meeting new people throughout the season.

Why join: “What I would say something that’s really special about our organization is that at such a big university, it’s really tight knit. If you like arguing, if you like acting, if you like competing or if you just like trying some, this club is for you.” said Margaret Mueller.

Advice for freshmen: “I would say trying out for mock trials, we want to see people that are completely themselves that aren’t trying to be like a prototype of what they think a mock trial competitor should look like. Something that makes our mock trial team really special is that every person has their individual style and their individual strengths,” said Mueller.

Chinese Undergraduate Student Association

One of CUSA’s events is Madstar, a singing competition involving many universities. Madstar singers, staff and guests pose at the spring 2023 competition. Photo by Guanlin Chen

Who they are: The Chinese Undergraduate Student Association offers a vital support network for Chinese students in the U.S., organizing events such as freshman welcome receptions, career seminars and annual concerts.  It has five departments: Activities, External Relations, Creative Arts, Publicity, and Organization, each with specialized sub-teams. In Madison, it provides additional services like airport pickups and campus tours to help new students acclimate. This year, its activities reached over 800 incoming students. Its core mission is to promote and celebrate Chinese culture, aiming to engage individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Why join:“The transition to a new culture is a significant challenge for anyone leaving their home country. Our goal is to make this transition smoother for everyone involved,” said Guanlin Chen, the President of CUSA.

Advice for freshmen: “College is a time for exploration and growth, so start thinking about your career goals and interests early. Look for opportunities in practical projects, internships, or volunteer activities, as they will help prepare you for future career planning. BTW, don’t be late in your class,” said Chen.

Astronomy Club

A group of people wearing winter clothes gather on a rooftop with snow visible.

Astronomy Club members gather on a rooftop to watch planets and stars, at an event last winter. Photo by Nadia Talbi

Who they are: The Astronomy Club is dedicated to observing the sky and learning about the universe while sharing an understanding and appreciation of Astronomy with all students. It does things like outreach events, observing actual astronomical objects like planets, stars and inviting guest speakers and helping our members with research.

Why join: The club offers a wide range of events: astrophotography workshops, outreach events to schools, guest speakers including astronauts, and “star parties” where members observe planets and stars from the top of Sterling Hall.  “For me I’m more interested in actually observing and outreach and doing events where I just talked with my friends about what’s going on in astronomy,” said Nadia Talbi, the Media Director of Astronomy Club.

Advice for freshmen: “Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. In the Astronomy Club, I do research on exoplanets, which are like planets orbiting around different stars. Astronomy clubs is actually how I got that research in the first place. Just because I went to an event and I met a grad student, and he was like, I need someone. I need more people to help me with my research. And I was like, I would love to help you. And then he was like, okay!” Talbi said.


People gather in a plaza outside a building, where there's a microphone stand for those who want to speak.

ASM held an Earth Day event with art projects, free food, and speakers, and an open mic for anyone who wanted to share their stories and ideas about how to advance towards a more sustainable future. Photo courtesy of Hannah Stahmann

Who they are: The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) is the official student governance body of UW–Madison, representing the needs of over 48,000 students. ASM is composed of roughly 50 elected or appointed students, 8 professional staff members, and 200 student appointees on committees that hold legal rights to recommend university policies, budgets, and candidates for UW employment. ASM allocates approximately $50 million in segregated university fees each year and is responsible for management of the Student Activity Center and distribution of the student bus pass.

Why join: “We do a lot of outreach to different student organizations and to the community to see what they would like to see on campus and try to use our power in the government to to help them,” said Hannah Stahmann, a Co-Coordinator at ASM Sustainability Committee.

Advice for freshmen: “My most important advice is just get involved in anything,” Stahmann said.

Apparel and Textile Association of UW–Madison  

Three women pose and gesture to the camera.

Textile club members gather at a mini project runway event. Photo by Aakriti Bagchi

Who they are: The Apparel and Textile Association is committed to furthering students’ development of textile and apparel design skills, facilitating networking among Textile and Fashion Design students, as well as all majors, and building character and leadership skills.

Why join: “This year we have three main focuses: community building, professional development and community service. So for community building, we wanted to focus on hosting events like movie nights or small skill building workshops, like leaving workshops or taking trips to the textile galleries. For professional development. We were going to have professors come in and talk about their work. Take a possible Chicago trip for fabric shopping and have a showcase in December as a collaboration with The Vault. And then for community service you are going to do things like making knot blankets in the winter for homeless shelters and sewing sanitary napkins and making little kits for the women’s shelters as well. We are super freeform and open and welcome to learning from anybody and everybody and taking on as many ideas.,” said Aakriti Bagchi, the president of the Apparel and Textile Association.

Advice for freshmen: “Yeah, I think it might be a big campus. And it might be a scary one. But it’s genuine and it is very cheesy, but there’s something for everybody on here,” Bagchi said.

Tags: student life