Meet three unique student clubs that are part of the spring Towson University Student Involvement Fair
Featuring more than 300 clubs and organizations that focus on academics, arts, culture, sports, Greek Life, hobbies and more, Towson University provides students plenty of ways to share interests, meet new friends, connect with new ideas and, most importantly, have fun.
The Office of Student Activities will host a Virtual Student Involvement Fair on Wednesday, Feb. 3, to connect interested students with representatives of more than 100 of those organizations and clubs.
“Students should take advantage of all the opportunities that TU has to offer and make the best of their college experience,” says Chris Rindosh, coordinator of student organizations. “Student organizations play a crucial role in helping our students find community, so we want to encourage that as best as possible.”
Here are three of the more unique student clubs that can be found on campus, online and at the involvement fair.
Esports has become a worldwide, billion-dollar industry that attracts millions of viewers through streaming services like Twitch and television networks like TBS.
But two years ago, the TU Esports Club was almost discontinued due to lack of interest. Thanks to the work of Josh Finkelstein, who helped re-establish the club, it now features around 125 members and continues to grow.
“I have parents of high school students telling me their kids are interested in the club,” says Finkelstein, who is a graduate student and currently serves as club president. “I get emails from students who are interested in transferring and want to know more about the club.
“Most people don’t know about us, so I like to call us the largest unknown club on campus.”
Members of the Esports Club have competed in tournaments for games such as Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone and Rocket League. In fact, Towson University esports teams are making waves in the competitive world.
One of the club’s players was recently offered a full scholarship to play Overwatch at another school but decided to stay at Towson University. The club has also worked with Jericho, a video game streamer with more than one million subscribers each on Twitch and YouTube.
TU competes against different colleges across the country in leagues and conferences. For Finkelstein, he sees esports as an important part of a college campus.
“I know there are concerns…but I think that the benefit of students having something to do after school and a team that competes completely outweighs those concerns,” he says. “You’re giving them an opportunity to socialize and compete as a team and have structure.”
Sophomore Celeste Vandegriff has been knitting since she was six years old. So, when she was looking for a way to relax while studying biology, she picked up her knitting needles.
When she found out that there was a club dedicated to knitting—that donated finished items to local charities—she jumped at the chance to join.
Now president, Vandegriff wants to ensure members find a calm and soothing space that is welcoming to long-time knitters and those who are looking to start a new hobby.
“I try to make our meetings as relaxing as possible,” Vandegriff says. “We've had a couple of members join who didn't know how to knit, which is fine. So I take some extra yarn and make a little care package.
“I’ll drive over and drop it off, and then I’ll send them links to YouTube videos. And if they have questions, they can come to me.”
Vandegriff admits she is a shy person, but becoming president of a student club has built her confidence and helped her find a group of like-minded individuals.
Finding a peer group is one of the main reasons she suggests students join a student organization. And if they are excited about knitting, she’ll be happy to show them the ropes—or the yarn.
“It’s great to see the support we provide for each other, because it helps us get through school,” Vandegriff says. “Just to come to a space where there are other students who are going through a similar struggle and talk about a common goal, I think it's very important because we're not getting that right now.”
When junior Ben Guevara came to Towson University, the electronic media & film major had been cosplaying and attending conventions since 2012.
When he started at TU, he thought there might already be a club dedicated to cosplay and the community surrounding it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t…yet.
But when he started the club, it turned out there were plenty of people who wanted to join.
“To be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect because cosplay is a very niche hobby,” Guevara says. “I thought that, if I try to start a club for it, maybe we’ll pull in just a few people who'd be interested. But when we had our interest meeting, we had over 20 people that came just because they heard about it and were interested in being part of it.”
And the club has continued to grow, even during a pandemic. Guevara says they have meetings over Zoom where they share their creations and talk about cosplay community topics.
Cosplay costumes are designed after characters from many forms of media: film, television, video games, comic books and Manga. Guevara bases many of his costumes after “Star Wars” and Marvel characters, with his favorite being inspired by the title character of Netflix’s “Daredevil.”
One of the reasons Guevara wanted to start a club was that he joined the Marine Corps right out of high school, so he didn’t know anyone when he came to TU. Instead of joining a club that he was only moderately interested in, he wanted to start something he was truly passionate about.
“This has been such a good way for me to make friends and be part of a community,” Guevara says. “It’s been great that between work and studying, you can find a group of people who become your friends and share the same interests.”
This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel’s priorities for Towson University: Diverse and Inclusive Campus.