University of Calgary

Join The Club

Submitted by alumni on Wed, 05/20/2015 - 10:00.

Join The Club

Some 17,000 students currently participate in UCalgary’s “club scene.” From Quidditch teams to origami groups, discover what’s driving this boom.
by Mike Fisher | Photography by Jim Wells

If you've ever been a member of a students' union club at the University of Calgary, you're part of a healthy tradition. Clubs, student societies, and student-led activities have helped campus life thrive since 1962, when the ski club launched with a handful of eager participants.

Now there are more than 330 clubs on campus involving 17,000 students, which is about two-thirds of the university’s 25,000-some undergraduates, says Jonah Ardiel, VP Student Life, making UCalgary a leader in club participation.

“When I attended a conference with my counterparts from across Canada, I learned some are proud just to have 10 clubs,”he says. “The fact that 90 per cent of our stu­dents commute to campus, yet they still take the time to join a club, really speaks to the level of student engagement here.”

Aside from meeting others and finding a place to belong with like-minded peo­ple, the clubs provide students with the oppor­tunity to learn skills that translate well in the marketplace. Improved men­tal health and enhanced well-being are other benefits.

“A club helps get you proactively invol­ved, but you also learn social interaction and other soft skills that you might need after you graduate,” says Ardiel. “You learn to take initiative and see windows of opportunity.”

How to join a clubFind event listings and clubs at the Students’ Union ClubHub website:

And that window on the future looks bright. There were less than 150 clubs at UCalgary in 2007 and Ardiel suggests that Club Weeks — held in the fall and winter semesters to showcase clubs for potential new members — are successfully increasing awareness and memberships.

The Ski Club alone has grown to almost 2,000 members, putting it at the top of UCalgary’s club membership chain. “Being so established at the university with a long history really speaks to ingrai­ned tradition,” says Ardiel. “The enthusiasm can become infectious. Friends become involved, not just in one club, but others, too.”

So if you have a family member or a friend attending the university who’s looking for a special place where they can belong, but haven’t yet found it, you might want to help spread the message to them — join the club.