Clubs + Activities
Johnnies are some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet, reflected in the diverse opportunities to get involved on campus. While there are some standbys (like the Gadfly, the student newspaper that’s been around since the ’80s, or the storied theater group the King William Players), many of the offerings change by year due to the students’ varied interests. Whether you want to spend your free time reading even more books or you want to blow off some steam on the dance floor, there’s something for every Johnnie. Don’t see the club or activity that you want? Make your own.
If you appreciate the arts, you’re in the right place. Love cinema? Join Film Society, where cult classics, regular classics, and some films defying categorization are shown for free in the FSK auditorium. Born to act? Join the King William Players, the student-run theater department that puts on plays in FSK (and occasionally other spots around campus). They do several productions a year, spanning genres and occasionally presenting original student-written works. Previous productions have included No Exit, Spring Awakening, As You Like It, Lysistrata, and Arcadia. (P.S. Sometimes faculty join in the fun—you might find yourself playing opposite your seminar tutor!)
For visual artists, there’s the Fine Arts program. Revamped in recent years, the program offers classes in drawing, painting, and ceramics, “open studio” hours during which students can gather to create, frequent field trips to art museums in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and beyond, and tutor-led art discussions on topics pertaining to (or specific pieces) of art. Open studio is home to acrylic, watercolor, and oil paints, brushes, pastels, charcoals, canvases, pencils, markers, inks, art books, and materials like newsprint and magazines for collage. The best part? Everything is completely free.
It goes without saying that Johnnies love to read and write, so there is naturally no shortage of opportunities to do both on campus. Write for or publish your work in one of the many student-run publications: the Gadfly, a bi-weekly newspaper that covers campus news, includes op-eds on current polity issues, and runs poetry, art, and short stories; Energeia, the largest art publication on campus, which features essays, poems, photography, and paintings; the Epoch Journal, a quarterly publication that runs op-eds, think pieces, and reportage from students on politics, policy, and society; PRISMA, a newly established photography magazine that’s open to all polity members; and the Apple, a completely anonymous (and often hilarious) newsletter run by students.
Study groups offer the opportunity to study books that aren’t on the Program or dive deeper into a single Program text. Most meet weekly and are a mix of tutors and students, and recent subjects have included Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” linguistics, the novels of Jane Austen, and others.
Most American colleges have something called a Student Events Board or Office of Student Activities. At St. John’s in Annapolis, that’s called Reality—a wink to the Johnnie Bubble, the affectionate name given to the Johnnie tendency to get totally absorbed in the Program and life on campus. Reality parties, held frequently throughout the semester, offer students a chance to let loose a little. The Fall semester features an annual start-of-term party, Oktoberfest, a Halloween party, and more, as well as near-weekly social events put on by the fearless archons (that’s what club leaders are called at St. John’s—we told you it’s different here!)
Another important part of social life at SJC is dancing … or, more specifically, waltzing and swing dancing. Waltz and Swing Parties are beloved traditions on campus, beginning with the Convocation Waltz at the beginning of the year, where students decorate the quad with string lights and dance all night. The Waltz Committee throws several dances a semester, often with a theme (think: Under the Sea, Masquerade Ball, Sock Hop, or Pajama Waltz), and students dress accordingly. No need to worry about being an experienced dancer—the Waltz Committee offers “emergency” dance lessons to all students ahead of time. Fun fact: Midshipmen (and women) from the nearby Naval Academy often come to campus for Waltz Parties, offering a chance to mix and mingle with people outside the Johnnie Bubble.
Politics are essential to the heart of St. John’s College, but not in the way you may think. Students focus not on the partisan rhetoric prevalent on the national stage, but on the development of Western political ideology and the foundations of American democracy. The entire college is governed by the Polity, which comprises the entire St. John’s community and is often used as a direct address (think: “Dear Polity … ”). Within that polity is the Delegate Council (DC), the student government on the Annapolis campus. Each year, up to four delegates are elected to represent each class, and the whole Polity elects the board of officers made up of the president, treasurer, secretary, and herald. The DC meets multiple times during the week to discuss current issues critical for the student body and to decide on funding requests for clubs and oversee chartering, budgeting for, and auditing all student clubs. The DC also serves as student representatives to the broader community and maintains communication between the student body, faculty members, and the college administration.
An essential subcommittee of the DC is the Student Committee on Instruction, whose primary function is to be the polity liaison to the Instruction Committee and weigh in on everything from laboratory manuals to seminar readings. The SCI is designed to serve as a forum for the student body concerning academic issues. Members examine the St. John’s Program, meet with prospective tutors, and set up events such as discussion panels and extra seminars. The SCI encourages students to engage in continuing conversations about the academic Program.
Johnnies are idea people with strong convictions. Every one of your classmates will have an opinion on virtue—and many choose to practice what they preach through volunteerism and advocacy. The biggest student volunteer group on campus, Project Politae, arranges group volunteer opportunities like elementary school tutoring, senior center activities, and homeless shelter work. Another, the St. John’s Environmental Club, is devoted to creating awareness on campus about issues relating to protection, conservation, preservation, and restoration—with an emphasis on educating and empowering students. Past projects of the club include setting up a bike-share program, donating leftover dining hall food to the Light House (a homeless prevention support center in Annapolis), holding an Earth Day celebration, and organizing seminars on various environmental topics.
If you’d prefer to get involved with a particular type of organization, the best way to find service opportunities is through VolunteerMatch. Their opportunity calendar is refreshed often, so check back for new opportunities. St. John’s students frequently volunteer with the Stanton Community Center, Touchstones Discussion Project, and Light House.
This information has been compiled to assist members of our community in locating potential volunteer opportunities. St. John’s College has not screened these organizations, and the inclusion of an organization in this list does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the college.
Whether you’re into individual sports—like running, fencing, sailing, or kayaking—or want to join the great tradition of Annapolis intramurals, there are plenty of opportunities to get exercise at St. John’s. The gym, affectionately referred to as Temple Iglehart, is home to exercise classes, pickup basketball, an indoor track, weightlifting and cardio equipment, and more. At the back of campus, the Hodson Boathouse offers the opportunity to take kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, sailboats, and more onto College Creek.
Learn more about our Athletics + Fitness offerings.
Johnnies may all follow the same Program of study, but they are anything but homogenous. Our campus is home to a diverse population of thinkers representing different racial and ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations, sexual and gender identities, political leanings, and more. And while the success of seminar depends on the acknowledgment of our shared humanity, it also depends on the exchange of ideas and perspectives. You’ll meet people who are unlike anyone you’ve known in the past (and with whom you might adamantly disagree), but you’ll also find a group of friends who share your interests and values.
Whether you want to challenge your beliefs or spend time with like-minded people, there is an ever-shifting roster of identity groups on campus with which to engage. If you’re politically minded, join the Leftist Reading Group or its conservative counterpart, the Leuven society. Check out the Black Student Union or Pink Triangle, the LGBTQIA+ club on campus. While St. John’s has no religious affiliation, there are a number of religious groups: the Christian Prayer Group, Shammai (a Jewish organization), and the Orthodox Christian Fellowship, to name a few.
Interested in exploring another religion, culture, or perspective? Form a reading group. Recent study groups have focused on Latin, German, and French conversation; James Joyce; Flannery O’Connor; Islamic texts; Fukuyama; and Plato’s Crito.