The Pagan Student Association at The Ohio State University occasionally gets
requests from other groups or individuals to give advice on how to start a Pagan
Student Group at their school. What you see below is kind of our standard email
that goes out for these requests.
Starting your own Pagan Group:
Here's the skinny on starting a Pagan Student Association or whatever you decide to call it. :)
From our founder (who now lives in Vermont):
>As far as advice for a new student group I have a few words
>1. Make sure you fully research the requirements of the
>school for starting a new club (bylaws, paperwork,
>2. Advertise about a week before the event with signs
>around campus as well as in local pagan friendly
>shops/hangouts. Don't advertise too much more than a week
>in advance or most of your signs get pulled down and people
>3. Definitely work with faculty. You probably need an
>advisor and they can help find students.
>4. Always try to stay neutral when dealing with factions
>(within the campus clubs/organizations as well as community
>5. While democracy is all good and well, a group will fail
>without strong leadership and a great core of students!
>6. Best of luck!!!!
My additions are pretty simple. Advertisements that work best are those which are less likely to be ripped down. We've found that if you put a huge pentacle in the middle of your fliers, they're not only more noticeable, but less likely to be torn down. :)
Make friends only with other groups that aren't political. Usually, student groups are safe. As soon as you see a group (not just someone in a group) bad mouthing another for personal reasons, back out. It's a sad fact that pagan politics are the worst sort. People start disliking other people, and suddenly they dislike whole groups.
There'll be people on campus who don't like you. The Christian groups (all 3500 of them) will probably just snicker at you. Other Pagans will think you're either too coven~ish or not enough of a coven. Basically, ignore people who don't like you. Don't let them drag you or anyone else in your group into an argument. Offers have come up from time to time to debate with various Christian or Interfaith groups, and we have always turned them down. I personally don't care what they think, but find it safer to not deal with them at all. Anyway, I see interfaith debate as counter-productive to religion.
Be social first. It keeps the group together.
Our group does not do rituals as an organization. We have stuck to a more academic study of our religions (which are many and varied) because it reduces arguments over the "proper way to cast a circle" or whether to invoke one god/dess or many. This isn't to say that we don't have groups which form under the umbrella of the larger group and have fun doing rituals, but we just don't do rituals in meetings anymore.
If you've never done anything like this before, you'll quickly start to realize that compromise is the only way to keep a group moving. If the group lasts long enough that you start to let the leadership pass, it's going to hurt when you see the group change. You still have to let it change and grow. Fighting the rest of the group is a very, very bad idea. I've been through it several times myself.
Well, if you have further questions or comments (including structure, a copy of our constitution, whatever), please feel free to ask. :)
Content © 2003, Michael J Dangler
Updated on 11/25/2003. Site Credits / Email Me!
Basic site design from ADF.org
(Yes, I stole it!)