Chapman clubbing: social hour sans the happy hour

Prowl Magazine, a Chapman student-run publication | Published Spring 2013

  An early spring moon lit up the Frisbee that Kristen Yu flicked across Wilson Field. It was a warm Monday night, and nearby, dorm social gatherings were beginning with chatter. Yet here, the world was silenced under the disc’s flight. It landed in her teammate’s fingers, and they both grinned with approval.

Jimmy Lindsey plays arcade-style games at the Mash Harder Club. Photo by Artëm Barinov.

   In that moment, Chapman belonged to them.

   “My coach always says to keep ultimate Frisbee weird,” said Yu, a freshman biochemistry major. “We like being the weird sport, and we’re out here because we want to be. On that field, we’re all friends.”

   Yu is part of the Ultimate Frisbee Club, one of more than 90 Chapman clubs meant to join those with unconventional interests and funded by the Student Government Association (SGA). Students searching for their own niche on campus create these clubs, which are typically less well-known and less advertised than large organizations like Greek Life.

   Freshman creative writing major Lee Feldman said he met some of his closest friends in the Anime Club, a group that meets weekly to view anime films.

    “I can really reach out and connect with other people and make friends just based off one potential interest that we share,” he said. “It allows different people to connect over something regardless of other interests in their life.”

    SGA President Chris Joondeph said clubs can request funding from the $75,000 SGA allocates to student organizations, after creating the club through a five-step application process with Student and Campus Life. Each request is voted on by a committee of five senators if less than $700, and by the entire senate if more.

   Many clubs, however, don’t request any funding and are free for members.

   “Clubs are more manageable for people who many not have money or time for things like Greek Life,” said Matt Robillard, a freshman digital arts major in the Ultimate Frisbee Club.

   Chapman, however, does not advertise clubs, with the exception of the Student Involvement Fair and weekly announcement emails by request.

   “It’s hard for people who are new on campus to know there are a lot of smaller clubs and organizations,” Robillard said. “If there was some way to show new people all the options that they have, it would be great. There’s a lot of invisibility.”

  Here is a look at three of those clubs: the Ultimate Frisbee Club, the Mash Harder Club and the Anime Club.


Monday, 7 p.m. – The Ultimate Frisbee Club

   “Spider” and “Coach Proxy” tossed a Frisbee lightly over soft discussion about weekend plans, and 14 students practiced drills nearby.

    “You give everyone a nickname, and it’s actually what you use on the field,” Yu said. “Sometimes people get really busy with commitments and class, and Frisbee is usually at the bottom of people’s list. But you can’t get your nickname if you never come out.”

   And those Frisbee throws take time to learn, she said.

   “A lot of people don’t expect all the running, and our drills can be pretty intimidating,” Yu said. “Last semester I was completely new and I couldn’t even throw a disc. But these people out here taught me how.”

   The Ultimate Frisbee Club meets Mondays and Wednesdays for three hours to practice and prepare for tournaments. Frisbee is a self-repped, non-contact sport with a 30-page rulebook.

   After establishing last spring, the club made its first win against Cal Poly Pomona last semester. But the club isn’t about competition, Robillard said.

   “A lot of people join for Frisbee because there’s not many ways to do that unless you know other people,” he said. “But then, as they keep going back to practices, it becomes more about meeting friends.”


Friday 1 p.m. – The Mash Harder Club

   Riley Mathis spent the first Friday of February like any other: tucked beneath Leatherby Libraries in room B16. Most of the ten students crowded around him wore their hair shaggy and their shirts loose, and grunted with frustration as he jabbed at his controller. They wanted to digitally destroy him, but they were his greatest coalition.

   They were quietly fighting to prove Chapman gamers had a social niche, too.

   The Mash Harder Club focuses on fighting games, a genre of video games that grew significantly in the past decade as it moved from arcade machines to personal consoles. Last year, SGA purchased four controllers for the club for $693, which club members plugged into multiple computer screens and a large projector in the classroom.

    “It’s more social than anything, but we can get pretty serious sometimes,” said Mathis, a sophomore computer science major. “It’s aimed at people who already have gaming experience.”

    Junior business major Jimmy Lindsey said he comes to the club for a chance to switch playing with a computer with a real person.

    “Playing against someone, you get the experience. If you play against a computer, it’s going to do dumb things,” he said. “A computer will think ‘I can do this really dumb move,’ but a human would never risk that.”


Friday 6 p.m. – The Anime Club

   Five hours later, senior English major Hazel Naylor hushed 25 students in Argyros Forum 207.  It was difficult, because despite the film flickering on the screen, it was also their social hour.  They were finally with the two dozen other Chapman students who understood what Friday meant.

   It was for anime.

   “This has made me who I am,” said Lee Feldman, a sophomore creative writing major. “You’ll be accepted for who you are, which isn’t necessarily present in other places on campus.”

   The Anime Club votes on a series of anime episodes to watch at the beginning of the semester, and meets every Friday afternoon to watch the Japanese films with English subtitles together.

   Senior business major Kelly Bohart picked a chair close to the screen. She said she came to meet friends.

    “A lot of my classes are changing, so I wanted to find people I had things in common with,” she said. “I used to watch anime with a friend in high school, but now I don’t have anyone to watch it with any more.”

   This, Naylor said, is slowly changing.

    “People used to judge you for liking it because it was different from mainstream media,” Naylor said. “But it’s becoming more integrated into our culture. My goal is to create a club to talk about what you like without being judged.”

    Three meetings are merely snapshots in a long reel of club-based social scenes at Chapman. Not long before these meetings, students swing danced at the Chapman Swing Cats club, played Capture the Flag at Chapman Nerf Club and became horse whisperers at the Equestrian Club.

For one more week, those meetings reassured them unconventional didn’t need to mean alone.