In college, extracurricular involvement is everything. Some people join Greek life or are student athletes, but a lot of college students join Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). UCF specifically has hundreds to choose from, so there’s something for everyone. However, no RSO is perfect, and some of them are even toxic. These are some of the patterns that I've experienced myself, so if you see any of these happening within your own organization, run for the hills.
1. They're excluding members.
If your organization holds secret meetings and only tells select few members about events, they’re being exclusive. It makes for awkward tensions among friends and silences a lot of voices from being heard. RSOs don’t have bottomless pits of money, so of course, they can’t include everyone for large events like trips and conferences. That doesn’t mean that everyone shouldn’t be given a fair chance to at least apply or show interest in such events.
2. An outside organization tries to gain influence.
This could be another UCF RSO, or it could be an organization from somewhere completely different. When any person or group from outside of an organization tries to change it, it usually results in chaos, confusion, and a loss of a cohesive vision.
3. Problems that should be addressed, aren't.
It doesn't always matter what problems plague a group; what matters is how they are dealt with. I’m a big believer that the executive board and any other leaders of an RSO are meant to represent the concerns of the students. If you’ve approached someone in charge with your concerns and find yourself feeling ignored, it’s not an organization worth being a part of.
4. It's the only extracurricular that you're "allowed" to be involved in.
For me personally, I’m someone that likes to have different circles of friends. I think that it can be dangerous to only have one circle and one community. What’s even worse is when members of a community try to discourage their members from being involved in other things, because they see it as posing some sort of threat. We should aim to promote personal growth instead of shoving the agenda of an organization down someone’s throat. No group or extracurricular should demand all of your time and discourage you from pursuing what makes you happy.
College is all about finding what works for you, and you shouldn't have to settle for being part of something that you're not passionate about. If you truly care about an organization but see problematic behaviors, try to inform a leader within the community about your concerns before leaving. There does come a point when enough is enough and if pressing issues aren't being addressed, that's when you know that it's time to exit.