AU female social-service club L’amifidel has decided to call it quits.
After facing several years of rapidly declining membership, club leaders and members decided to take steps to end its tenure at AU.
“We all have lives outside of L’ami, and we’re all busy,” said Abigail Brim, a junior elementary education major and club president. “There weren’t many people putting in a lot of time. We started hearing talk of people quitting. Not because they had issues with us, just because their lives were already busy.”
Additionally, the club began the year with less members than are required to keep a club active. They had around 10 active members before recruitment in the fall.
“We had a lot of seniors that graduated last year,” Brim said.
Their hopes had been to recover their membership during a busy recruitment season.
“Leona came onto campus, so there were four female social-service clubs on campus,” Brim said. “AU’s not that big. Freshmen can’t recruit. And so we lost a lot of recruits to Leona, which definitely hurt us.”
Ultimately, L’ami had only one recruit.
“It was awkward, her being the only person,” Brim said. “There were brand new people, brand new things and she was doing it all by herself.”
Club members struggled to remain active as their semesters became busier, and Brim felt the weight of responsibility bearing down heavily upon her shoulders.
“All of this made everything very difficult to continue doing club every week and to stay motivated,” she said. “I was doing a lot of things by myself. My load was skyrocketing. It was stressful, and I didn’t enjoy it. I was miserable, and apparently a lot of the other girls were, too. So we had a sit-down conversation one day and we decided that, for the sake of our sanity, it’d just be best to take action now and take control rather than the club itself dying out while we were working so hard to keep it alive.”
Julie Ward, administrative assistant to the provost and one of L’ami’s two advisors, had just become a club leader this year.
“Being new, I’m unsure as to the factors that led to this point,” she said. “The number of active members made it challenging to attract new recruits, but the girls worked hard and tried to be positive.”
During the decision-making process, Brim and the club officers first sat down with their advisors to talk about options.
“We tried to help the girls process where the club was at that point and why,” Ward said. “[We talked about] what our options were moving forward and the repercussions of each, and then we considered and discussed what they wanted from club and if it was still possible to achieve that.”
In the end, after bringing the choices to the rest of the club, the decision was made to disband.
“I think the girls learned a lot about how to deal with hard things and did some serious ‘adulting’, as we like to call it,” Ward said.
Brim met with Trent Palmer, director of student engagement, and told him it was time for L’ami to take a break.
“He reassured me that clubs sometimes die out for a while and then come back in the future,” Brim said.
Ward wouldn’t be surprised to see L’ami revived in the future.
“All things seem to go in cycles and I would not be surprised at all to see L’ami cycle back around and become a strong club again one day,” she said. “I would be thrilled to remain involved with these girls, whether they are an official club or continue in a small group format.”
In the meantime, members are tasked with deciding what comes next.
“I’ve been asking myself what’s next for the last month or so,” Brim said. “I’m taking advantage of [my extra time] and focusing more on my studies. I’ve encouraged the girls who are going to be seniors next year, including myself, to look into joining other clubs. We’ll always be L’amifidel, but there are other clubs that are going to be just as accepting.”
Brim looks back on her time in the club, noting that her time as president was hectic and stressful, but that the friendships she gained were well worth the trouble.
“I instantly formed relationships with these girls,” she said. “I’ve pulled out some really great friendships from L’ami. We still go out, love each other, pray for each other. We’re all very different people, but L’ami has always been about accepting anybody no matter background, who you are, what you look like.”
After all, the club name is French for “forever friends.”