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Navigating Newness With Wisconsin Union Involvement

“Meeting new people can be scary,” Wisconsin Hoofers Council President Sam Hagedorn said.

Sam expressed a feeling to which many individuals can relate, the fear of not being able to find a community to connect with when entering a new environment, such as a college campus. But don’t worry! He continued with his own wise words and expertise. 

“Find something that you are interested in, and join a club that offers that,” Sam said. “Joining a club is a great way to get socially active and enjoy your time.”

Questions of “where do I find clubs that I am interested in?” are likely zooming through your mind. But you’re in luck! There is no better place to get involved in a variety of exciting clubs, communities, and committees than the Wisconsin Union.

The Wisconsin Union is all about giving people a place they feel at home. Whether you are coming to study at UW–Madison with many other students from your high school or are traveling from far and wide without knowing anyone, making friends can be a daunting task. Getting involved at the Wisconsin Union can be a great way to meet individuals with similar interests, take the intimidation out of being in a new place, and gain access to financial incentives while having fun.

The Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) is the student-run programming board for the Wisconsin Union, which includes 12 committees and six outdoors-related Hoofers clubs like the one Sam leads. The members collaborate to plan, market, and carry out events to engage students outside of the classroom. The leaders communicate, learn, and create lifelong friendships together while passionately working to put on exciting programs for the community. 

The only requirements needed to take part in any Wisconsin Union club or committee are a little bit of time, effort, and interest! Never fret over the level of experience you have or the relation (or lack there of) to your major when choosing an organization to be part of. If you have an interest, get involved! For example, in one recent year, the student leader of the Art Committee was an engineering major! 

WUD includes a variety of committees covering a range of interests. Simply browse through the Directorate’s webpage, and see what appeals to you! The expansive number of committee topics can meet many students’ interests, allowing them to explore topics on a deeper level. Think of your favorite club from high school, now place it onto a much larger scale with greater student control and funding! 

No doubt, being part of a Wisconsin Union club or committee is worth it just for the incredible friends and experiences. But the excitement doesn’t stop there! Becoming a WUD officer comes with financial benefits, such as an academic stipend of 80% of your tuition (Limitations apply.) and a Wiscard stipend. 

We, at the Union, give WUD Committee leaders academic and Wiscard stipends, as well. If you are interested in finding new ways to engage with students around campus, while receiving financial benefits, make sure to check the WUD leaders application deadlines, and get your information turned in! 

Let’s talk more about the Wisconsin Hoofers. Within Hoofers, there is an abundance of outdoor clubs to become involved in. You can travel from the tippy top of mountains in the Mountaineering Club all the way to the deep, dark depths of the sea in the Scuba Club all for a minimal fee. 

Sam took his own advice early on in his time on the UW–Madison campus joining the Hoofer Ski and Snowboard Club his freshman year. As a rising fifth year student, he explained the impact Hoofers has had on his campus experience.

“The people I have met in the club have become some of my closest friends at Madison, and I have really found a community on campus with Hoofers,” Sam said. 

Accumulating around 2,500 members, the Wisconsin Hoofers clubs are the ultimate way to meet new friends with similar interests. Worried about a lack of experience? Don’t be! All Wisconsin Union members (All UW–Madison students are temporary members.) are welcome to join any of the six outdoor clubs regardless of skill level. Just take the three simple steps listed on the Hoofers website to begin exploring the outdoors with your fellow nature-lovers! 

“One thing I love about Hoofers is you get to meet so many people from different backgrounds coming together because of the same love of nature and the outdoors,” Sam said. 

If you are interested in a leadership position within Hoofers, you’re in luck! There are applications available to showcase why you believe you would be a good fit. If chosen to be the next Hoofer’s Council president, you will be given an academic stipend of 60% of your tuition (Limitations apply.) along with a Wiscard stipend and additional benefits.

Outside of the Council president, there are supplemental leadership positions that come with financial incentives as well as great resume-building opportunities. Securing a leadership position in any of the Wisconsin Union clubs or committees is a great way to forge connections with like-minded Badgers.

There is something for everyone at the Wisconsin Union. The clubs and activities available under the Union act as the social hub on UW–Madison’s campus and allow individuals to have a community, memories, and experiences for a lifetime. So take Sam’s helpful hint, find what you’re passionate about, and get involved!

Author: Beth Shoop

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