NeW at George Washington University has been nominated for “Legacy Chapter” award at this year’s National Conference. We sat down with Abigail Marone and Bri Mirable, members of GW’s NeW executive board, to hear more about the revitalization of their NeW chapter after going dormant for several years, as well as how they offer professional services while having a lot of fun along the way!
Q: How long has your chapter been around?
Abigail Marone: Our chapter was rebooted 3 years ago. Prior to that, NeW had been on GW’s campus for some time but unfortunately died out after an all senior executive board graduated.
Q: What are a few significant events or moments that your NeW chapter has been a part of in the past?
Marone: Last fall, we hosted a Fighting Feminism Women’s Panel. We hosted 3 conservative women to talk about ways the left has co-opted feminism and how conservatives can fight back, while still promoting female empowerment. The panel was very successful and featured Karin Agness, Julie Gunlock, and Emily Jashinsky.
Bri Mirable: Every year we participate in Freedom Fest with other conservative organizations on campus. It is a combination of a picnic and organization fair where conservative students can learn more about ways to get involved in a social setting. We love having the opportunity to team up with other conservative organizations on campus in a fun way!
Q: Does your NeW chapter have any traditions?
Marone: In the spring, we have a LinkedIn photoshoot for our members which has been very popular. Everyone has the chance to get a new profile photo, and we have a fun brunch afterwards!
Mirable: Every Christmas we host an end of the semester dinner at Bertuccis, an Italian restaurant on campus. It’s a great way for members to blow off some finals stress while enjoying a delicious meal with like-minded women.
Q: How has your chapter benefitted your campus? Have you formed any relationships with other chapters or clubs?
Marone: We have benefitted our campus by holding/cosponsoring speaking events, which brings a different set of ideas to the liberal campus of GW. We have also provided an outlet that conservative women can go to when they are overwhelmed by DC, current events, or other activities going on. When girls need an outlet to vent about everything from unfair treatment by professors to bias in the media, NeW is there for them. We have also provided our members professional services, such as the LinkedIn photoshoots or resume workshops we hold every year.
Q: How big is your chapter? Have you seen growth over the years?
Marone: Right now, our chapter has about 20 active members. We have seen enormous growth in the past two years, as the chapter was essentially non-functioning before Fall 2016. Additionally, we have turned out as many as 40-50 women for on-campus events.
Q: What is some advice that you could give to other chapters regarding member growth?
Marone: Outreach is 365 days a year! Your job recruiting new members doesn’t stop once the school year has started and student organization fairs are over. It is extremely important to keep members engaged throughout the year. We try to do this by discussing current political events in our GroupMe, which keeps members engaged and thinking about NeW. By the time we have our general body meetings, everyone is excited to come and discuss topics that came up during the week.
Q: What direction do you see your chapter going in as your move forward?
Marone: As we grow, our chapter has increasingly become focused on networking, professional development, and applying our readings to career topics. Since we are located in DC, many of our members are already passionate about their career path and have held many internships in their chosen field. We like to harness the experience of our older members to help our younger members and our chapter grow. We find that readings we can apply to our career or professional development is the most beneficial for our members.
Q: How has your chapter changed during your time there? How has it improved? Do you like the direction that it is moving in?
Marone: Our chapter has nearly quadrupled in size since we re-started it nearly 3 years ago. We have transformed from just a book club to a book club, a professional development organization, and a social group. We are so happy to see how our club has grown and transformed to welcome conservative women from different majors across GW’s campus. We love being able to build a sense of community among like-minded women, especially on a liberal college campus which would lack that community without us.
Q: What are some essential attributes of a well-functioning chapter?
Marone: A dedicated executive board that plans events well in advance and follows through on assigned tasks
Mirable: An enthusiastic member base that is connected through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and GroupMe. Also, an executive board that listens to member input on events they want to be held or speakers they want to see.
Q: Have you had to work through any challenges as a chapter? How did your chapter handle that?
Marone: Yes we have. When conflicts arise within the organization, it is important to remember that everyone on the board is there because they care about the organization and are pushing for what they believe the best path for the club is. When you approach a disagreement from that angle and recognize everyone cares about the club, it is much easier to understand where everyone is coming from and talk through a compromise/solution without taking anything personally.
Q: How has New impacted you as a conservative woman?
Mirable: NeW has given me the courage to be up front about my conservative beliefs on campus. Right after arriving at college, I didn’t tell anyone about my political beliefs because I was afraid people would not want to be friends with me. Finding my friends in NeW gave me a support system, and the programming done by the organization taught me that there is no shame in my conservative beliefs. I’m so grateful that NeW gave me this and I can’t wait to see how else it will impact me in my next two years on campus!
Q: Do you have any general advice for other chapters?
Marone: The recruitment advice is very important! In order to keep members consistently engaged, the executive board must work hard and accept responsibility for outreach and keeping people interested in the organization. NeW is so much fun, it isn’t too hard! Mainly, it is a game of working around schedules.