From clubs that celebrate Harry Potter and My Little Pony to those that boast hot rods and souped-up hogs, UCF has come to accumulate more than 600 registered student organizations. And in the past year alone, almost 100 new RSOs have been approved.
The newly founded clubs cover a wide range of interests, from game developing to animal-rights advocacy, to Indian dance and LGBTQ+ service education.
Cecil Chik, a master's mental health counseling student, is the graduate assistant to the Social Justice and Advocacy program at UCF. This summer, she started LGBTQ+ Issues in the Helping Profession Association (LGBTQ+ IHPA) after being motivated to help future professionals gain cultural competency skills.
In the sea of groups that offer platforms for the population, she realized most of them were social in nature and wanted to address the need for an academically based LGBTQ+ organization.
"I wished that there was something that would have prepared me for the political, outside, big, bad world that's not UCF where it's really safe, more accepting and open," Chik said.
Chik, a former high-school math teacher, experienced a rude awakening upon entering the public workforce. When a student asked her to sponsor the Gay Straight Alliance, Chik felt happy, until another gay teacher told her it would be "career suicide" if she followed through with the request. Chik, who is open and comfortable about her gay identity, was confused and shocked by the comment.
"I wish I had learned how to deal with discrimination, deal with outside forces and society in that respect," she said.
Chik, who is also a mental-health intern with the ZEBRA Coalition, plans to use her RSO to offer workshops that will feature local social workers, doctors and therapists who present information about topics such as terminology, gender identity, gender expression and orientation.
She hopes these workshops will help students best interact with future clients, "so students understand that the world isn't always just black and white — there's some gray areas, too."
Tava Bingham, OSI coordinator for student organizations, first started working with the department two years ago, when there were only 475 RSOs.
"It's good so that students find their niche on campus," Bingham said. "The more involved they are on campus, the more they're going to want to stay here and finish graduating."
While students may form their own independent groups on campus, there are privileges to becoming an officially recognized organization through OSI, such as being eligible to receive Student Government Association funding for events and having the ability to reserve rooms on campus free of charge.
But having so many student-run organizations may also come with pressure.
Eventually, we will reach a point where it'll be difficult to meet the RSOs' needs for resources, Bingham said. Meeting spaces in the Student Union are limited, and there is demand for reservation.
SGA has put limits on the amount of funding RSOs can receive, such as the rule that no organization can receive more than 4 percent of SGA funding allotted to RSOs. Last year, this totaled about $37,000.
OSI communications coordinator David Oglethorpe said the growth of student organizations on campus is a reflection of the diverse student population at large.
That's 60,000 different interests that find common bonds and interact with each other based on similarities, he said.
Eligible student groups can apply to become registered with OSI by submitting a proposal form, which can be found at the OSI website, osi.ucf.edu.
Here's a list of the 100 new RSOs:
Global Association of Christian Hospitality Professionals
International City/County Management Association
Pegasus Composers Society
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
University Go Club
Young Life College
International Relations Club
Themed Entertainment Association at Rosen
Men's Health Advocacy Group
Student Chapter of the Division of Applied Experimental and Engineering Psychology
Criminal Justice, Legal Studies & Sociology Students Association (CLASS A)
Advocates for World Health
Graduate Health Network
Veterans Job Fair Council
Association for Women in Sports Media
Happiest Club on Earth
International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research
Delta Phi Omega Sorority, Inc
Pre-Occupational Therapy Organization
Student Consulting for Non-Profit Organization
National Communication Association Student Club
Eta Kappa Nu
Antioch Campus Ministry
Emerging Urban Knights Planning Association
Sigma Alpha Iota
Entomological Society of Central Florida
Project for Haiti Knights
Futures in Vaction Ownership
Student Association of Fraud Examiners
Knights Special Events Society
Christians United for Israel
Public Health Student Association
Cupcakes for Cancer
Voice Acting Knights
Armed Services Leadership Society
World Languages Education Student Association
Coalition for Students with Disabilities
Gamma Phi Beta
American Society of Safety Engineers
Fashion Club @ UCF
Evolutional Robotics and Neuroevolution
Save 8! Designate
Sigma Alpha Epsilon
Passion for Service
Structural Engineering Institute Graduate Student Chapter
International Youth Fellowship
Women in Lasers and Optics
Psych Knights @ Osceola Campus
Rapid Prototyping Association
Tau Sigma National Honor Society (previously existed)
Global Medical Brigades
Body of Animal Rights Campaign
Design & Code
Health Awareness and Prevention Society (HAPS)
Game Development Club
LGBTQ+ Issues in the Helping Profession Association (LGBTQ+ IHPA)