NeW at University of Virginia has been nominated for “Legacy Chapter” award at this year’s National Conference. We sat down with current president Adeline Sandridge, to hear more about the journey her NeW chapter has taken in the last 3 years!
Q: How long has your chapter been around?
Our chapter of NeW was the founding chapter established at the University of Virginia in 2004.
Q: What are a few significant events or moments that your NeW chapter has been a part of in the past?
We have been involved in our University’s Bicentennial celebrations kicking off in the fall of 2017. Additionally, we’ve been involved in several campus conservative moments including playing host to Senate and Congress candidates at the Center for Politics and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.
Q: Does your NeW chapter have any traditions?
Our chapter hosts Conservative Club Night every year and will be looking forward to hosting the third annual event this September. As far as traditions go, we participate in semesterly activities fairs, and hold our first yearly meeting in fun locations, and support one another in academic endeavors University-wide. We also are looking forward to carrying on a tradition of a conservative speed dating night with other conservative organizations.
Q: How has your chapter benefitted your campus? Have you formed any relationships with other chapters or clubs?
We’ve formed close relationships with College Republicans, Turning Point USA, Young Americans for Freedom, Students for Individual Liberty, Hoos for Life, and Hoos for Israel during our time on Grounds. We often co-sponsor speaking events with these organizations, socialize together, and work toward furthering the conservative movement at our University. We’ve benefited our University by offering another outlet outside of the classroom for people to get to know one another and learn more about being conservative in college.
Q: How big is your chapter? Have you seen growth over the years?
We’ve experienced significant growth over the years, moving from a small group of 3 or 4 members to a collective membership of 15-20. Though attendance fluctuates from time to time, we average a membership of 15 active members.
Q: What is some advice that you could give to other chapters regarding member growth?
It’s super important to be present at the events you think potential members might attend. A lot of this means working closely with people in other conservative organizations to establish personal relationships with other leaders. The closer you know them, the more likely they’ll be to want to help you out, attend your own events, and extend offers for new opportunities for your own members. It’s also important to not give up, even if it seems like not too many people turn out for your events, or it seems like you’re off to a slow start. Even getting one woman to attend your events is a success and should never be something to be discouraged by!
Q: What direction do you see your chapter going in as you move forward?
Moving forward, I think it will be important to continue the close relationships with other club leaders. It takes an army to keep conservatism on campuses across the country, and I’m hopeful that the relationships we’ve started will make it easier for future UVA leaders to want to use those connections to better the chapter. Additionally, I look forward to doing more to honor Karin’s establishment of NeW at UVA, as we approach the 15th anniversary in 2019.
Q: How has your chapter changed during your time there? How has it improved? Do you like the direction that it is moving in?
Our chapter has grown in size and has taken on more of an identity in its time. I think that we still have a lot of work to do in ensuring that other people on Grounds know about NeW, even if they’re not conservative or don’t envision themselves in a campus leadership role, but we’re improving each day in maintaining a reputation for being another great sounding board for conservative students on Grounds. The chapter is moving in a positive direction, and I’m looking forward to continuing that momentum as I pass down leadership roles over the coming months.
Q: What are some essential attributes of a well-functioning chapter?
Communication is very important; communicating with members, hosting meetings, and organizing ways for members to get to know one another and feel like they have a stake in the organization itself. Another key component is willful leadership; students that want to be leaders are very important, rather than those that tend to overcommit and not have as much time to dedicate to the organization. Finally, students that are passionate about NeW and want to share more about it beyond the walls of the classroom are key members of any liberal campus community.
Q: Have you had to work through any challenges as a chapter? How did your chapter handle that?
In the spring of 2016, the chapter president stepped down due to unforeseen family circumstances. As such, a few others and I, with little campus leadership experience, had to step up and continue the chapter in the midst of a bit of internal chaos. We were able to get things started again, and off and running, and a lot of that is due to the help of NeW National and Taylor McCarty as Campus Programs Associate.
Q: How has New impacted you as a conservative woman?
NeW has impacted me as a conservative woman by giving me a community of like-minded people that are passionate about ensuring that conservative ideals are heard in a liberal echo chamber. NeW has offered me the opportunity to be a leader and be someone with strong values, both inside and outside of the classroom. I owe a lot of my values and my strengths to NeW, as it has encouraged me to not fall prey to the popular ideas that often prevail in liberal environments.
Q: Do you have any general advice for other chapters?
Keep doing the work that you’re doing! Every event that you host, every person you talk to, and every relationship that is formed will be critical in showing others that conservatism is alive and well, in addition to providing a community for conservative women to learn more about themselves and their values in the process. No amount of members is too small or too large, and you truly never know the impact you have each day! Keep fighting the good fight, and know that you have an army of likeminded women behind you all across the country!