Latest News

Book Club Finds New Leadership, Lays Burden on Students

Alexis Hagerman | Photo submitted by Alexis Hagerman

Junior Alexis Hagerman never thought her love for books would lead to the stress of being leader of Wright State University’s English club.

Losing the club advisor

After club advisor and professor Carolyn Stoermer announced she was being retrenched, the English Club had to find new leadership. Hagerman found herself stepping up as the club’s leader and now struggles to keep the club alive through meetings and recruiting members. 

“I have been feeling a ton of pressure to keep the club like it is and not let it change just because my advisor is gone. So now I feel really helpless. I feel like I’m emailing all these people and doing all this work that I didn’t really sign up for. I’m worried that it might die if we don’t do enough recruiting, if we don’t do enough of this and that,” Hagerman said.

Hagerman began as a regular member of the English Club in 2018 as a freshman. Now, three years later, she’s taken on the role and responsibilities of club leader. She sends out emails, recruits members and plans events, something she does not have prior experience in and did not initially want to do.

The position was unexpectedly stressful for Hagerman, who joined because she wanted to share her love for books and liked the easygoing nature of the club. 

“I think I was just so… so spoiled, not having to worry about the pressure because Carolyn just took care of everything. And so now it’s like I really have to work to make that passion still a reality,” Hagerman said. 

Hagerman isn’t working alone. The English Club has a new advisor, Angela Johnson, professor and program director of Integrated Language Arts, who is happy to help.

Team effort

Due to the English Club’s unofficial status, there are no roles like president and all members contribute to the club. 

One such member is Ariel Parker, a senior majoring in English Literature.

Parker thinks highly of Hagerman’s leadership, calling it president level work. Hagerman takes on many responsibilities, and Parker assists where she can.

“I want to make sure that I’m there for Alexis and therefore the club to make sure we can do things,” Parker said.

Despite this, there are some tasks Hagerman alone takes on, such as emailing and setting up meetings.

Used to the club’s laid-back nature, the unexpected amount of responsibility took its toll on Hagerman, who initially joined because she loved reading and wanted a low-commitment club.

Where it started

From Defiance, Ohio, a two hour drive away, Hagerman came to WSU in 2018. Along with her classes, she was looking for a club to join.

Since high school, Hagerman’s parents and teachers encouraged her to be involved with clubs and organizations. Following the idea that the more she was a part of, the better her resume looked, Hagerman visited a variety of clubs. 

However, many clubs were too expensive or required too much commitment for her. They also lacked the sense of community she was looking for.

Then she found the English Club. 

An unofficial club, Hagerman resonated with the English Club’s mission statement, to support a love of reading and literacy in communities both on campus and off campus through volunteering, donating and fundraising.

“I’m an English major, I was like this is a good fit,” Hagerman said. “I really liked the laid back atmosphere, the community, and Carolyn was such an easygoing advisor. She really encouraged us to pursue what we wanted to pursue and not worry about the rest.”

Community feel

Hagerman found the community she was looking for with the English Club. The members had similar views and goals, with a shared passion for books and literature. 

One of Hagerman’s favorite aspects about the club is its group chat, where members post book recommendations, about their day, and different hang out events.  

The close knit, community feeling was a draw for Parker as well. As an English literature major, Parker was first drawn by how book oriented the club was. 

As she became more involved with the club, she became closer to the other members and more attached to the community they provided. 

“It’s really the people that help me stay,” said Parker. “I want to see it through to the end and I want to be able to say yes, I was involved in a new English club and I care about it.”

Part of what keeps the club members close are their shared values. They all share a desire to learn through books. For the English Club, diversity, inclusion and social justice are important. 

“We want to diversify our reading, because sometimes when you think of English Club, you think British and American literature,” said Parker. “But it’s very male and so a lot of the books we’re choosing are ones that aren’t what we’re used to, to read different perspectives and stuff like that.”

During quarantine they stayed connected and worked on diversifying their bookshelves by reading books like When They Call You a Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors. 

After quarantine, the English Club began in-person meetings again. They also began to think of recruitment. 

Because the English Club isn’t an official organization, members relied heavily on word of mouth and Stoermer’s assistance in finding new members. Now they have to think of more ways to find members, something both Parker and Hagerman are concerned about. 

Currently, Hagerman is planning events with other members, including an upcoming book drive and possibly a poetry night to make English Club more well-known on campus.

As part of the club since she was a freshman, the club and its community are dear to Hagerman, and she worries the club may die if there aren’t enough new members.

Despite her worries about recruitment and the stress of being English Club’s unofficial leader, Hagerman is still deeply invested in the club and hopes to ensure it continues after she graduates in 2023. 

“I do have those moments where I’m like, I’m done, I just want to quit. But then, you know, this club is so special. And we have a meeting, and we get together, and I see all these people who have a passion and kind hearts. So then I can’t just give up on it,” said Hagerman.