Russian club falters, apathy to blame
President needs help to start culture club
Last semester passed gloomily for Julie Sereda, the founder of UNLV’s Russian Club.
For the duration of the fall, she had spent much of her time advertising and organizing a new group to help connect the campus’s Russian community.
Empowered by the presence of other cultural associations at UNLV and through help from a fellow student, she had set out to enlist members for what she believed would be a successful new organization.
The lack of interest she encountered left her stunned.
“Out of hundreds of people [fliers were given to] I only got four people interested [in the club], and only one of those people joined,” she said.
Sereda, who emigrated from Eastern Europe when she was 12, explained that she had noticed a lack of enthusiasm and unity in the Russian community on campus.
“I noticed that there [were] Russian students on campus, but they [were] kind of scattered,” she said.
After attending a meeting of the Japanese Club, she decided she would create her own group to gather Russians and those interested in Eastern European culture together.
“My own culture wasn’t on campus in an organized way,” she said.
Sereda found a sponsoring professor and wrote a group constitution.
She promoted the club with fliers and through word-of-mouth. The school approved the formation of the organization.
When the time came for group activities and events, however, she was the sole member.
“Because the club did not take off, I just kind of gave up on it,” she said.
The sponsoring professor, Paul Werth, was on leave, and the student who assisted her in publicizing the club eventually grew disinterested.
“A whole incoming class last year was not aware of the possibility to [learn and connect] with Russian [culture],” Werth said.
Since then, the group has remained stagnant-unable to move forward or backward until someone finds a solution to the problems that have plagued the group.
“I started this club from scratch on my side, and it’s kind of hard to get it going when people have such high expectations already,” Sereda said.
Werth, who teaches a course on the history of modern Russia, said that he would like to see the organization come to life.
“I thought something, not [necessarily] something large, would come out of this,” he said.
However, he believes the UNLV community must pioneer the effort.
“I think the initiative is going to have to come from students,” he said.
Sereda hopes to see the club start at all.
She believes the organization could be of major benefit to UNLV, if only dedicated students would step forward.
“I wouldn’t mind getting back to [working on the club],” she said. “But on the condition that people who want to join…understand that it’s a brand new club, and I need their help.”
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Contact Julie Sereda: [email protected]