By Tom Hart
For The Diamondback
More than 800 student organizations are listed on the University of Maryland's OrgSync, a site that allows students to explore different campus clubs. Though academic, sports and Greek life organizations make up more than a third of the groups on campus, students also have a chance to get involved in unique groups such as beekeeping, capture the flag and an advocacy organization for redheads.
Sophomore Zoya Samsonov, an aerospace engineering major, said her involvement in this university's beekeeping club has helped her develop close friendships.
"I just think bees are really important [to the environment]," Samsonov said. "I love them as an animal."
Other clubs, such as the Nerf Activity Society, give students a chance to get active while meeting people with shared interests at this university. Senior Kai-wen Chang, a materials science and engineering major, said he doesn't think clubs are a necessity, but said they serve as "another branch of social life that can be explored on campus."
After joining the club his freshman year, Chang currently serves as a moderator for the Nerf Action Society, which organizes events each semester, featuring appropriately branded dart guns and swords in games such as capture the flag.
Students looking not only to find similar interests, but also similar hair colors, can join the Red-Haired Student Union, though the group isn't exclusively for those with red hair. The club is a tongue-in-cheek play on the identity-based groups one finds on the campus, as the group is dedicated to the interests of "red-headed students and their allies," according to the group's Facebook page.
"We'd like to be involved both as a student group that's semi-ironic and a fun time, but also sort of philanthropic," said freshman Matt Saxton, finance major and president of the group.
The group's endeavors include handing out sunscreen to students on the campus, Saxton said, which combats a problem endemic to those with pale complexions.
Those looking to improve their public speaking skills can join this university's chapter of Toastmasters International, known as Hear the Turtle at this university. The organization, which has about 80 members, focuses on improving members' communication and leadership skills, said senior Casey Garnett, a psychology major and president of this university's chapter.
"I found that it was really useful to improve my public speaking," Garnett said.
If none of the 826 student organizations at this university are appealing, students can apply for the university's approval to become a registered student organization.
Junior Adam Raeder, who was interested in indie music in high school, found it difficult to find peers with similar interests. However, at this university, Raeder joined WMUC, the campus radio station, where he found others interested in comparable music.
A college experience without extracurriculars, Raeder said, "can be very boring … unless that's all you want to do."