Since the opening of Simmons University (then College) in 1902, students have sought learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom, applying their newly-found knowledge and skills to real-world situations. In addition to internships, independent studies, and field experiences, students developed clubs and activities to explore their academic subjects, the world around them, and themselves.
During the University’s first half-century, student extracurricular life focused on Simmons. Policies of dormitory life and social custom rarely permitted students to leave campus, leading them to form an array of intellectual, academic, and cultural organizations and societies to engage their growing knowledge and interests. Through these activities, students produced literary, news, and alumnae publications, deepened their understanding of their chosen majors and professions, governed themselves, and enjoyed the performing arts.
In response to the great social changes of the 1960s, residence hall rules began to allow students more freedom to leave campus and explore the world beyond Simmons. Educational programs changed as well, focusing less on professional preparation, and more on a liberal arts education. Many of the clubs and activities that had marked the first half-century of Simmons life ended, replaced by other organizations during the University’s second half-century that more accurately reflected the times in which Simmons students lived.
Although over 100 distinct organizations and clubs were created during Simmons’ first 100 years (1902-2002), the majority of these student-run groups fell into one of eight categories:
- Student Government
- Academic Clubs
- Student Publications
- Arts Organizations
- Faith-Based Organizations
- All-Campus Programming and Outreach
- Multicultural Organizations
- Political and Activist Organizations
This exhibit focuses on the overall growth of organizations in these eight categories, highlighting individual clubs and activities where applicable, exploring what topics, interests, and causes have been important to students, and showing how student organizations enriched the Simmons experience during the University’s first 100 years. Many of these activities—or those similar to them—continue today and are an enduring hallmark of the Simmons learning experience.