Oct. 14, 2004

Jeff Bowen

Jeff Bowen, board games club adviser

By Lindsay Hitz

Every other Friday night at 8 p.m., about 20 Bucknell students gather in Room 264 of the Olin Science Building, carrying board games like Risk, Othello, and Mastermind. Throughout much of the evening, many of the members will be playing board games they haven't taken part in since childhood.

The club is a "Friday night haven" that provides an alternative to partying, according to Jeff Bowen, associate professor of physics and Board Games Club advisor. Adds Bowen: "It's a great way to meet people, and we have a lot of fun."

Playing ancient board games is just one of the many interesting and unusual activities in the world of Bucknell student clubs.

With over 130 clubs and organizations, Bucknell students can choose clubs to meet a multitude of interests. Or they can start their own. "If students don't see [a club that meets their specific interests] here at Bucknell, they can create it for themselves," says Kari Conrad, associate dean of students and director of campus activities and programs.

At Bucknell, says Conrad, student clubs reflect the unique and ever-changing interests of the current Bucknell student body. "Clubs change," she says, "as students' interests change." They also foster positive social life as well as supplement education. Says John Siwicki, president of Bucknell Student Government: "Students flourish and develop skills in clubs, building upon their academic base. The events complement the activities in the classroom."

Ranging from the more traditional, old-fashioned clubs such as the Board Games Club to the high-tech video game club, KRAID, there are many opportunities to join with students of like interests and abilities.

Board Games Club members play a wide variety of games, but not chess or checkers, which have their own constituencies, says Bowen. Examples include an Egyptian game called Senet, a British game called Kensington, and "whatever somebody comes up with," as Bowen puts it. Students join the club, Bowen says, because it provides a chance to have some fun with no pressure."

Other clubs allow participation in a multitude of recreational activities. The recently started Juggling Club is an opportunity for students of all abilities, from novice to advanced, to juggle with other interested students. Members of the Juggling Club have juggled a variety of objects including balls, clubs, rings, scarves, and even snowballs.

Jugglers enjoy working with fellow jugglers in order to improve their skills and for the performance aspects of juggling. Explains Christine Martens, president of the Juggling Club: "If you've ever seen someone juggle, you know that it attracts audiences, and you want to be a part of that."

The club tries to perform for the Bucknell community at least once a year. Last year, the jugglers entertained at the Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival juggling snowballs to complement the winter theme.

Besides juggling, many of Bucknell's clubs are aimed at performing. From Jelani, the hip-hop club, to We Brake for Nobody, the comedy improv team, to Slam, the slam poetry club; there are a variety of pathways for performance in Bucknell clubs.

At Bucknell, there are clubs to meet the many unique and unusual interests of Bucknell students. These interests may range from fashion to automobiles. For the fashion conscious students, Culture Couture is a club devoted to fashion.

For students with a strong inclination to speak out and debate issues, the Activist Forum allows students with different views to speak out on a range of causes including but not limited to civil liberties, the arts, education, and environmental issues. The Animal Defense League unites students with a love for animals to participate in activities such as volunteering at animal shelters. Car enthusiasts can join the Piston Heads club.

Drawing as they do on students' current interests, Bucknell clubs give students the opportunity build on their academic skills and socialize at the same time. Says Conrad: "Clubs provide a great lesson in theory and practice, by enabling students to employ the skills they learn in the classroom."

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Lindsay Hitz is a Presidential Fellow in Bucknell's communications office.

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