There are more than 650 clubs on campus, which means there’s really a club for anything. Not all are SAC funded, which involves a two–year waiting period after a club’s inception, but even without university funding, many of these groups have been colonizing and growing. To start a group at Penn, all you really have to do is log on to Groups Online at Penn and register. After an administrator reviews your application, you’re in. Sounds too good to be true, huh?
Due to the ease of the application process, there are a lot of cool clubs at Penn that aren’t as well–known. Street rounded up a few.
A food club: Undergraduate Steak Club
Mo Lawal (W ’19), the president of the Undergraduate Steak Club, calls it a community where members can get together to share their passion for steak. The idea was borne out of his and his friends’ great appreciation for a high quality steak, something they actually found at Fresh Grocer. The group just started in September, so there are only around eight to ten members right now, but in the future Mo hopes the Undergraduate Steak Club continues to grow, “bringing in as many people as possible who are interested in steaks and love steak—just to come in, cook, and talk about steaks.” This savvy griller’s favorite steak is a good ribeye, particularly a well–seasoned one, with butter, rosemary, and thyme rubbed in.
A cultural club: Natives at Penn
Natives at Penn isn’t a new club—it’s been around since 1994 and was originally known as “Six Directions.” It was founded as an organization to spread awareness of Native American culture, but president Keturah Peters (N ’18) says that the club has grown into a community for Native American students, complete with their own social and cultural events. The group usually meets bi–monthly on the third floor of the Greenfield Intercultural Center, where they have a lounge area reserved for them. Members can even come in and hang out for study hours. Although the organization is open to Native Students from other colleges, right now the membership is limited to around ten active members from Penn. “We’re pretty small,” Keturah admits, “but we do a lot to try to promote a community.” For instance, they’ll be hosting their annual Powow, open to the greater Philadelphia area, in the spring. There, students can buy crafts from Native American vendors, listen to Native American drumming, and try out Native American cuisines. There will also be an Ivy Natives Conference this spring, where Native American students from Ivy League schools will have the chance to attend workshops and listen to speakers discuss the topic of food sovereignty.
A political club (kind of): Common Party
Marc Erlbaum began the Common Party after the election last year; his objective was to create a space where people could acknowledge the commonalities between them instead of focusing on all the things that separate voters. Since then, it’s spread to Penn, and Nicole Rubin (C ’19) is one of the three campus directors here. “It’s not partisan politics,” Nicole says. “It’s trying to be political without being political. We’re trying to bring back common decency when we talk to each other.” The group champions constructive dialogue, encouraging members to talk openly, but kindly, about the serious political issues that we encounter today. So far, the group has already had a General Body Meeting and a community–wide conversation with Jonathan Zimmerman, a political professor, about political dialogue and open dialogue. “They gave out political questions, and we went around the table and got to share with people from very different political backgrounds about where we came from and how that has shaped our views,” Nicole explains. In December, the group will also be hosting another open conversation with former Neo–Nazi Arno Michaelis to speak about his journey leaving the Neo–Nazi movement. Although many of the group’s events are based on political issues, Nicole stresses that the group itself is hoping to adopt a variety of roles, with its focus on promoting effective discourse: “Even if you’re not a political person, you should learn to communicate effectively. The skills you can learn here are applicable to many aspects of life.”
A performing group: Penn Improv Society
If you’re in the mood for some comedic spontaneity on a Monday at 9 p.m., head to Huntsman G88. “I realized that around campus there were really no beginner comedy groups, and there were also no comedy groups that were fully inclusive,” Brian Goldstein (C ’20) says, “so I decided to create PIS,” otherwise known as the Penn Improv Society. Anyone is welcome, regardless of prior experience, and members get together weekly in a “casual commitment to comedy improv.” Brian himself hasn’t had much experience with improvisational comedy, but he thinks the PIS will be a great way to take away from some of the stress on campus. Members get a chance to test out their comedic and response timing, playing a variety of improvisation games while getting to know each other. “It’s a very low–key casual commitment, but I really do think improve helps you think on your feet fast, which is a very valuable thing,” Brian says. “Anyone who has any interest but no experience should just come out and try it.”
A sports team: The Penn Equestrian Club
The University of Pennsylvania Equestrian Club has been around for at least fifteen years, but they’ve just started at a new barn. Each rider trains about once a week, and members rent out zip cars to drive 30 minutes away to Northwestern Stables, their new location. The team has around 12 shows a year, where they compete against other universities in the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association, but their members range in experience from equestrians who have been competing for years to newbies. “Our goal is not to be a super intense team at Penn,” Celine Cummings (C ’19) says. “We don’t require any applications or auditions. We just want to make it a stress–free thing, because we don’t think a sports team should be super intense. It’s nice to have time where you can get out of the Penn bubble. ” Despite the range in experience, all the members are close (they even have a gym group that meets three times a week in addition to their riding sessions), and the 30 members or so get together often to hangout, although GBMs are only once a month. There’s even a collaboration opening up between The Equestrian Club and Penn Preceptorials sometime in December, so keep your eye out if you’re hoping to get some experience on the track.