With more than 700 active contracted independent organizations currently operating on Grounds, UVA students are staying busy outside of the classroom. Each CIO is approved by Student Council and the Office of the Dean of Students, and operates independently of the University. Club participation is also a lesson in self-governance: each student group must maintain a constitution and manage its own affairs. From learning acrobatics to predicting the weather, there’s an organization for just about every imaginable interest. Here are just a few of the student clubs holding meetings, performances and activities on Grounds and around Charlottesville.
Virginia Acrobatics Club
Performs routines reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil for crowds all over Charlottesville. Club members hone their skills twice a week at a local elementary school gymnasium, practicing aerial silks and hoops, juggling, partner balancing, acrobatic yoga and stilting. Students can join even if they have no prior experience; the more experienced acrobats show the ropes—or in this case, the silks—to the newbies.
UVA Di Shaan
Holds three 3-hour practices a week to choreograph and rehearse competitive upbeat Bhangra dance routines in the tradition of Punjabi folk dance. "We practice a lot and therefore have become a very close-knit group that feels like a family," says current team captain Apoorva Lonkar (Engr '15). The team's hard work has paid off: it has twice placed first in the George Washington University's Bhangra Blowout competition, and performs at Bhangra competitions throughout the country.
Cavalier Weather Service
Cavalier Weather Service (CWS) club members use their knowledge of meteorology in combination with online weather models and weather maps to create reliable forecasts for the Charlottesville area. Forecasts are posted daily to the club’s Facebook page and broadcast on the radio by WTJU. CWS also teaches weather lessons to elementary school students and creates weather demonstrations for public science exhibits. “The atmosphere is simultaneously a complex piece of machinery and an ever-changing work of art,” says club president Erin Dougherty, “and getting that message across to the public…is gratifying, and moreover, important.”
Enables the scientific study of insects. Students can grab nets and jars and go on a collection outing. "Insects are everywhere, and you don't really have to go far to find something interesting. I find cool bugs around town all the time," says club founder and president Sachin Gadani (Grad '19, Med '20). The group also organizes various community outreach activities, including an annual seminar series on insect biology and the importance of bugs to the ecosystem.
Frisbee Golf/Disc Golf/FROLF
Toss a disc that's a bit heavier and smaller than a traditional Frisbee across a course and into the designated baskets, or "holes," in as few shots as possible. That's the object of Frisbee golf— also known as disc golf, or FROLF. "The sport is a great way to be outside, be competitive, and chill with friends," says Tanner Riche (Col '16), one of the group's founders.
Fashion Design Club
Students who wish to design and sew their own clothes can learn how through the Fashion Design Club. Fashion Design Club currently holds meetings and sewing tutorials in the Open Grounds space, which provides ample room for the group to set up sewing machines, examine fabric, cut patterns and share ideas. Newer members learn basic sewing and design skills from the club’s more experienced sewers, and there are a few opportunities for students who are interested in modeling and fashion photography to get involved as well.
Girls Excited about Math and Science
Visits two local middle schools on a weekly basis, and club members, all female, perform science experiments with preteen girls. "Our goal is to use fun activities to get girls involved in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields, where women are severely under-represented," says current club president Elisabeth von Spakovsky (Col '16).
Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group
Puts student members through rigorous training to conduct search-and-rescue operations for lost persons and aircraft as a member organization of the Appalachian Search and Rescue Conference. The group meets twice a week throughout the school year to learn skills and gain certifications in navigation and orienteering, wilderness survival and first aid, basic life support and CPR techniques, climbing and rappelling, radio communications and dispatch, and much more. The group, which builds leadership and camaraderie among its members, is on call 24/7, 365.
Rubik's Cube Club
Convenes all over Grounds to solve the Rubik's Cube and other twisty puzzles. "It's fun and rewarding to see improvement, learn new [solving] methods, organize competitions and cube with others," says current club president Sesi Cadmus (Col '17). In addition to trading tips and practicing puzzles, the group recently held a World Cube Association Rubik's Cube tournament that brought more than 60 competitive cubers to Grounds.
Shakespeare on the Lawn
Aims to make Shakespeare more accessible to students and the public through on-Grounds performances. "It's one thing to read Shakespeare's plays, but it's another thing entirely to see them on the stage," says club president Tom Hische (Col '15). "It would be a shame not to see his plays in a theater, as they were meant to be experienced. Even if that theater is sometimes a warehouse next to Scott Stadium."