The beginning of a new semester is the perfect time to be thinking about how to grow and expand your YAL chapter. Maybe you turn out a big crowd of people to a information meeting or a semester kick-off rally, but will they come back? Are they still there at the end of the semester? This is the ultimate test of your effectiveness as a student organization, and here's what you need to remember.
The Idea: Community
Think about the most successfully organized groups you know. These may be churches, veterans groups, or college fraternities, for example. The common thread that sustains the existence of these groups is that they create an environment which not only enables the purpose of the group, but ultimately fosters social interaction. In other words, people want a place they can make friends and hang out! It's half the reason you went to college to begin with.
Understanding "community" is vital to the success of your group. It encourages the creativity that occurs when people are comfortable around each other and sharpens ideas on philosophy and rhetorical skills. People build bonds with each other, find other common interests, become friends, and eventually begin to interact outside of the group. I love logging into Facebook and seeing people who are members of my YAL group asking each other which professors to take for a certain class, who wants to meet up for pizza, or where the best trails to go hiking are located. These people will continue to show up for YAL events, if only just to see their friends who they made there! I'm sure they love liberty too.