“Create it Together”: Fostering Community With the English Majors Organization
Do you want to meet like-minded people and participate in great activities related to English? Clemson’s English Majors Organization, or E.M.O. for short, is a student group for anyone who is interested in literature, writing and any and all things English. Current president and Clemson English undergraduate Hannah Sparks met with me over Zoom to discuss more of what the club was about, what activities members have been involved in this semester and her hopes for the club’s future.
Sparks has been a member of E.M.O. since her freshman year, when she joined as a way to meet other English majors outside of classes. Since becoming acting president at the beginning of this semester, Sparks has fulfilled leadership duties such as ensuring the club is registered with the university, working with faculty and organizing the club’s social and community events. In the past, the latter has included engaging with the campus literary festival, meeting to discuss topics in English while eating pizza and participating in book swaps. Due to the current COVID climate, however, this semester’s activities have been more focused on meeting to talk and check-in with members. The club was also able to continue its tradition of writing postcards to incoming English majors by adjusting the activities so that they could meet social distancing guidelines.
I had a chance to attend the event and find out more of what it was about. On Thursday, March 4, students who were interested in participating came to the benches outside of Daniel Hall to pick up their packets from Dr. David Coombs, the faculty advisor for E.M.O. These packets contained 15 postcards with quotes by famous writers on the front, and a blank back for the volunteers to write messages to the incoming English students. In addition, the deal for volunteers was sweetened with some pieces of chocolate to eat while they filled out the postcards! According to Dr. Coombs, this is a tradition that has been carried out for the last three or four years. It struck me as part of the wonderful community aspect of the Clemson English department and a great way to introduce incoming students to all that Clemson English has to offer. Sparks was in charge of the second day of the event, which occurred on Friday 5, and handed out the remaining packets to volunteers. Volunteers filled them out with messages of congratulations, cool benefits of the Clemson English program and words of encouragement. They then returned the packets the next week for the postcards to be mailed out to future Clemson English undergraduates.
Sparks mentioned that this semester she has been working alongside Coombs to revamp the E.M.O. club to provide more opportunities for members.
“I’m really trying to get the student voice into it. I don’t want to just create it on my own and then ask members to join — I want us all to create it together,” she said.
Sparks emphasized the benefits members of E.M.O. enjoy such as a space to be comfortable with their writing and experiences as well as the opportunity to share work and give feedback. Faculty members regularly come to meetings to talk and engage with the students, and in general E.M.O. is an excellent way to get involved outside of classes in a diverse range of activities.
Dawson Walker, former E.M.O. president and Clemson English alumni, shared similar sentiments about how the club made an impact on him and other members.
“E.M.O gave me friends, and several amazing memories of entertaining conversations. Though much of my tenure as president was during the pandemic, I enjoyed every moment. And the contacts I made in the group will last for as long as I attend to them,” he said. He added that “the club is simultaneously a social and service organization, perfect for new students who are looking for a friendly community to be a part of, and to help others as well.”
Students interested in joining the E.M.O. club can contact Hannah Sparks at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Coombs at email@example.com for more information.
Written by: Kelly Waters