When I first opened the website of University of New York in Tirana, I was not only interested in reading about my major of choice but I was also looking forward to getting a glimpse of what campus life might actually look like. My excitement turned into disappointment right after my first-year traumatic experience. Even though more than a dozen had requested to join, only three people showed up in the first meeting of the Culture Club. Just like that, the Culture Club never saw the light of day again. However, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the Music Club stand in this year’s opening ceremony. During my studies here, I have come to know uncountable talented students that can sing and play instruments flawlessly. As a former guitarist, I immediately signed up. Three months later, I have not heard back from them. So, I decided to put on my investigative hat and find out whether UNYT clubs have evolved or eroded with time.
Andrea Mazelliu, student of UNYT from 2010 until 2016 and now part of the administration, argues that campus life had little to no resemblance to what it is today. According to him, almost every club you can think of was up-and-running – Charity Club, Book Club, Art Club, and IUS Association Club were amongst the most popular ones. Each club was equipped with its own student board and coordinator, which were solely responsible for managing the club. Being one of the founders of the IUS Association/Law Club, Andrea let us in on how this particular club was run. It was managed by a board of five students, which divided the workload equally amongst them, and one president, elected every year by the board members. Nevertheless, not all clubs were organized the same. Anisa Vrenozi, now a young and motivated doctoral candidate for Accounting Research in Austria, completed her undergraduate studies at UNYT in 2013. She remembers her college years with much reminiscence. Anisa and Alban Lauka, the president of the Student Union at the time, were the co-founders of the Book Club. The way they run their club was particularly interesting: Books to read were posted on a Facebook group, while membership was on free basis – students could spontaneously join the meeting. According to her, Charity Club, Drama Club, and the WorkafrolicsClub drove the most interest amongst students.
As I continued to dig around for other alumni, it was pretty clear that the most consistent club throughout the years was Charity Club. Xhoi Rami, former student and part of the UNYT administration, confirmed that Charity Club has always been consistent in its efforts to gather aides through food, sales, and other donations in order to help the homeless, orphan children, etc. Moreover, Gloria Resuli, junior at UNYT and member of the Charity Club, tells us that they have operated along the same lines by selling bakery, gathering toys, books, and clothes for children in need. After the horrid earthquake that struck Albania on November 26th, Gloria and other members of Charity Club came together to personally hand more than 250 sandwiches and 600 prepared meals for those affected in Durres, Shijak, Vore, and Bubq.
After listening to all the testimonies, it is clear that UNYT Clubs have eroded over time. With only 3 clubs up-and-running as of December 17th, we need to act expeditiously to bring back the vibrant campus life that UNYT once had. “There is an urgent need for revitalization of campus and student life,” – Andrea argues. “We need to start collaborating with each other, not only in hopes of receiving a piece of paper at the end of the year but also to get to know new people and build new networks that will help shape our future,” – he adds.
Xhulia is a sophomore at University of New York at Tirana. Since a young age, she spent most of her time reading books, writing short stories, painting, and playing instruments. As she strives to extend her knowledge of different cultures around the world, Xhulia enjoys movies in foreign languages, especially French and Spanish. At Insider, Xhulia is Vice Editor for the 1st Managing Board. She seeks to bring her expertise in culture and globalization.