U.S. universities have clubs for all interests and getting involved is a great way to make friends from around the world.
Georgetown University’s Grilling Society started in 2002 and since then has brought together grilling enthusiasts to bond over their shared love for barbequing. Courtesy @gugs_georgetown/Instagram
U.S. higher education institutions welcome students from all around the world. This cultural diversity is part of what makes U.S. universities such unique places that inspire collaborative inclusion, growth and success. Universities recognize the importance of diversity in campus life and offer a variety of groups and activities that help students connect to like-minded peers and make new friends. No matter what the interest, there is a campus group for everyone.
The University of Colorado-Boulder features a passionate student group that is entirely devoted to gaming and esports, which is a form of electronic sports competition using video games. CU Gaming was founded in 2015 by a group of students who wanted to enter online competitions for the game, Counter-Strike. It has continued to grow ever since, becoming a thriving grassroots esports community that celebrates self-discovery, integrity and acceptance of differences.
“We are here to celebrate all games, not to tear people down for personal preference,” reads the CU Gaming group’s website manifesto. “The virtual space that we play in tears down boundaries and removes superficial differences…gaming should transcend race, gender, sexuality, religion and political views.”
With the addition of new games and growing number of competitive events, CU Gaming has grown to be one of the largest student organizations at the University of Colorado with more than 1,500 registered students participating online. CU Gaming also hosts in-person events, which are a great way to meet new people and connect around a shared passion. The main goal of the CU Gaming community is to promote member growth into not only better gamers, but better people as well.
Climbing high in Stanford
At Stanford University, there is a popular student activity group that focuses on climbing. There is a state-of-the-art climbing wall on campus that is 28 feet tall, with approximately 75,000 square feet of devoted climbing space located at the Arrillaga Outdoor Education and Recreation Center.
The climbing group at the university was spearheaded in 2012 by Phil Sandlin and Andrew De Torres, staffers of another unique campus group, Stanford Adventure Program. The duo began teaching climbing classes and managed the school’s climbing wall for participants of all skill levels. The Stanford Climbing Team has boomed in popularity, enlisting over 40 competitive climbers and becoming recognized as an official Stanford Club sport. It now has a full staff of certified climbing wall instructors to teach both academic and recreational climbing classes to Stanford students.
During the academic year, the climbing team competes in local, regional and national competitions that are part of the USA Climbing Collegiate championships. The Stanford Climbing Team is one of the top teams in the United States, earning the gold medal at both the 2018 and 2019 Climbing Collegiate National Championships. Outside of competitions, the climbing team plans trips to outdoor adventure areas, including Yosemite, Bishop and Red Rocks National Parks.
The Stanford Climbing Team is open to current undergraduate and graduate students who are committed to attending weekly practices, with tryouts held at the beginning of the fall quarter each year.
Bonding over fire
Georgetown University’s Grilling Society could be the perfect campus group for anyone who loves food. Since 2002, this student group has brought together grilling enthusiasts to bond over their shared love for barbequing.
The group’s slogan reads, “Beneath the trees which line the grounds of Georgetown, the Georgetown University Grilling Society strives to maintain the fundamental values of mankind through bonds and friendships forged in the very fires upon which we cook.”
Every Friday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the members grill hot dogs and their renowned round burgers for sale on Georgetown campus’ Red Square. The group serves veggie burgers as well.
All students are welcome to join the cookout. The proceeds from the food sales are contributed to charitable causes. Every year, Georgetown University Grilling Society hosts an annual Grillathon, a fundraiser that benefits food nonprofits and community organizations.
In 2021, the Grillathon raised $6,923.41, which is enough to keep over 300 children fed for an entire year through the Mary’s Meals nonprofit organization, which provides daily school meals to more than 2,000,000 children in 20 countries.
No matter what a student’s true passion—gaming, rock-climbing, cooking or another activity–there are countless student groups full of peers who embody the diverse and inclusive spirit of the U.S. collegiate experience. If an activity or hobby does not have a club on campus, students are invited to start it; every college club begins this way!
Jason Chiang is a freelance writer based in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.