How Do You Run Your Club

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.

How Do You Run Your Club

Postby brianamagin » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:52 pm

After spending a semester running the club at MSU without really knowing how things in collegiate quiz bowl worked and mostly flying by the seat of my pants I wanted to think of ways to make things run more smoothly. I also became curious about how other colleges ran their collegiate teams.

So just tell me how your club runs.
-what is your eboard like?
-what are your practices like?
-what, if anything do you require from your members?
-what is the division of labor like in your club?
-and really anything else you think would be relevant to this discussion

I can start by telling you how MSU runs. We have three positions on our e-board, president, ombudsperson, and treasurer. Our treasurer obviously takes care of all of the monetary aspects of the club, our ombudsperson is supposed to assist the president in any way they need, and then the president does everything else. Which honestly, I think is a little much. This semester as president of my club I ran all of the practices, was in charge of planning and TDing the tournaments we hosted, picked which tournaments to attend, decided who was on what team, got hotels and figured out travel for all of our away tournaments, and pretty much everything else associated with the club. Now don't get me wrong, I definitely learned a lot about quiz bowl after taking care of so much, but I think that having one person in charge of almost every single aspect of the club is a little too much. I also think that having only three positions that can be held in the club is too few, there should be at least four if not five in my personal opinion and I think there should be at least a little more division of labor. When it comes to membership you only have to show up to like three practices a semester, and people are expected to attend and help staff tournaments but it's not mandatory. Then at practices we just read old packets at the difficulty of our next tournant and we have begun requesting that people write their own questions to ready at practice which has been going really well because most of our club is freshmen who have never written questions before.

I'm curious to see how similar and how different all our collegiate clubs are. And maybe get some ideas on how to improve my own club in the future.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Progcon » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:45 pm

Just wanted to state my case a little bit for the way things run at MSU though they have been ran like this for as long as the people I know personally have been involved in the club (roughly 5 or 6 years ). I am a firm believer in the 80/20 division of labor. 20 percent of the people--and for quizbowl it's probably less--do most of the work. It's like that almost everywhere in life as I have observed because of skill specialization. Last year, I did everything Briana did this semester and also edited a 20 packet high school set. I think the workload for president of our club is extremely doable given that I did it with little issue last year while I had a part-time job, had multiple 400 level classes, etc. In my personal opinion, any club can be run by four people because, in reality, four people are going to be doing the lion's share of the work anyway. To be completely honest, there were few times last year where I thought "if only I had a XYZ officer to do ABC for me; that'd be great." Most tasks are one-off and trivial. The more people you have, the more communication has to occur and sometimes inefficiencies can arise there like when you assign someone to do something--however easy--and they don't say whether it got done or not and often times, it hasn't gotten done.

My personal philosophy is that clubs should be run like businesses and be goal oriented. In this kind of schema, you really need a focused leadership structure where each person in leadership is committed to the goal. For my club, the goals are to make money because we don't receive any university funding, promote quizbowl in the state of Michigan, and put interested collegiate players in a position to do well at tournaments by funding trips and organizing practice. Everything else is secondary in the day-to-day decision making. If things are planned well, communicated, and executed as they are planned, there should be few if any issues running something as simple as a quizbowl club. There's really no excuse to comments like "well I didn't expect that to happen". Plan for everything you can because most things can be mapped out logistically (eg. protests, teams showing up late, players not being available to play a tournament, transportation issues, etc.). I've ran a small-time lawn-mowing company, and I can tell you that is much harder because if you make one mistake it can cost you hundreds of dollars and your reputation. Mistakes in quizbowl cause people on the forums to wine at you so the pressure and degree of difficulty are much lower.

Before I graduate undergrad, I will upload some documents we have and I have written about how to run your club effectively if people are interested. Some, like the financial one, still need to be written as I am going to completely redo the club's finances in the Fall of 2018.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby alexdz » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:57 pm

Several years ago, when Charlie Dees and I restarted the Mizzou club, it was more or less just the two of us running everything. The first year, Charlie did the lion's share of the work, and then our sophomore year, I took over more of the day-to-day stuff. Either Charlie or I at least co-directed every tournament we ran during my four years. Mizzou only required that you had two officer positions in a club - president and treasurer - and so that's all we elected. My junior year, no one ran for president, so I ended up going to both required trainings and serving in both capacities that year. In general, I usually organized the logistics of room reservations, making copies, and dealing with purchases/finances, while Charlie tended to be a much better "quizbowl stuff" manager, such as deciding what to read in practice, what events to attend, and how to run the tournaments. We tag-teamed most of the communications tasks with vendors and teams coming to our tournaments.

All that is to say, it's very much not unusual for one or two people to do pretty much all the work in running a college club. Obviously, the bigger your club and the more hosting and traveling you do, the more people you need to help make it all doable. But, as Harris said, it's not as if you're going to be able to magically get handfuls of people to take on significant responsibilities in this setting anyway. If people want to step up, you can give them tasks to do without necessarily creating new positions for them. We were able to ask new people who wanted to try to co-TD events with us, for example, which didn't require any election process or anything formal.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Calculus? » Tue Dec 19, 2017 4:10 pm

I run the Toronto club. To answer your questions:

The structure of our exec has been shuffled around quite a bit over the past few years. Currently, we have a president (me) and a Treasurer/VP. In future this could be expanded into two positions but currently what we're doing is working fine. The Treasurer/VP generally provides a second opinion on club related decisions and assists me with some of the operations/contact stuff when I am too busy. We also sometimes have our former president give input in discussions, which is useful. The T/VP also runs most of the first-year practices/does a lot of outreach, which has been fantastic because I'm not great at outreach type things. We generally plan the club's schedule re: tournaments and practices together, but as I TD everything, my word on tournaments is final. I do find myself doing most of the "treasurer" work, but this is also a personal preference for me since, like Harris said above, my main goal for the club is to make money and I like to be able to know exactly what's going on with our finances. I find the two-person exec has worked very well this year, and I don't believe that I'm doing too much work for one person. The first year I ran the club I found myself doing most of the work and ended up becoming quite frustrated and overwhelmed. Subsequent years got easier with the help of a second person. Unless our club becomes substantially larger (which is possible, we had quite a surge in membership this year) I feel that adding any more positions to the exec would become redundant/confusing, for the reasons Harris already stated, although it's possible that a future president would find additional execs more helpful than I would.

Our practice structure was revamped this year. We now meet two evenings a week, with one day being a "general" practice for anyone to show up to, and we generally play regular difficulty stuff and occasionally some trash. The other day has "junior" practice for less experienced players running concurrently with "hard" practice where ICT, Nats, CO, etc. are read. This structure was put in place to address the issue of very good players showing up to practices, locking everyone else out of buzzing, and discouraging newer members from returning. We frequently go out to dinner after practices to encourage more socialization between newer and older players.

I make it clear to new members that they're free to show up to practice at whatever frequency they'd like. At the beginning a lot of people think there is a formal process for joining or that we take attendance or something. Show up every week, once a month, a few times a year, whatever is fine. The only effect this has that I can think of is that when we vote on practice days at the beginning of each semester I generally won't weigh the votes of people who show up infrequently as heavily. I have also had to be very strict about "anti-flaking" this year. In past years we've had a lot of people, especially new members, who seem to think that they can register for a tournament and then not show up without saying anything. We've had to make it very clear that everyone has emergencies, but bailing on a tournament without letting anyone know and without a good reason will result in a ban from future tournaments.

I outlined most of the labour division above, but I will add that in general I don't handle travel/accommodations arrangements for non-first year players. I expect that most of our members know how to be adults and arrange their own travel, although I will inquire about rides, who has space for people to stay, etc. if I am asked, but in the end it's the other person's responsibility to make those arrangements, and I can provide a reimbursement if possible.

So again, some of this may change as our club gets larger, but for now I'm quite pleased with the changes that have been made and the help I'm receiving. I will add that the effectiveness of your exec really does depend on how enthusiastic/committed they are -- someone who kind of got pushed into the position because there was no one else who wanted it will generally be less effective than someone who really wants to be doing the job.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Victor Prieto » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:12 pm

brianamagin wrote:We have three positions on our e-board, president, ombudsperson, and treasurer. Our treasurer obviously takes care of all of the monetary aspects of the club, our ombudsperson is supposed to assist the president in any way they need, and then the president does everything else. Which honestly, I think is a little much.


I've been part of two clubs, both of which had four core officer positions: president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary. I've also instituted a social chair position for both clubs that I was president for, responsible for planning non-quizbowl social events. The unique officer positions I've seen were webmaster (manages the website) and historian (takes pictures, alumni involvement).

Aside from the treasurer, I think one of the most difficult things is delineating which responsibilities belong to which position. Assigning everything financial to the treasurer is pretty easy. All of the other responsibilities you mentioned don't fall into neat categories that are evident to me. We tried "internal" (running practices, club communication, university administration stuff) vs. "external" (communication with outside entities, decisions about tournaments, travel logistics) responsibilities, but that didn't really work. Most non-financial tasks have, in my experience, been entirely done by a specific club officer just stepping up and doing it, which is most often the president. If there are any club officer structures that have do a better job of division of labor, I'd also be interested in hearing about that, but it sounds like we actually may have more division of labor than other clubs have.

One thing I specifically did at Rice was specifically avoid the president role for senior year, and made the president make decisions instead of me. I was always there to help and to provide as much information as possible about what was going on outside of the club. That system seemed to work okay for preserving important skills in the leadership of the club.

-what, if anything do you require from your members?


We've never asked anything of our members.

Calculus? wrote:I outlined most of the labour division above, but I will add that in general I don't handle travel/accommodations arrangements for non-first year players. I expect that most of our members know how to be adults and arrange their own travel, although I will inquire about rides, who has space for people to stay, etc. if I am asked, but in the end it's the other person's responsibility to make those arrangements, and I can provide a reimbursement if possible.


I think this is atypical - I haven't heard of any other team where players are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Every team I've been part of has traveled together in normal circumstances. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, just noting its irregularity.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby setophaga » Tue Dec 19, 2017 7:20 pm

Victor Prieto wrote:
Calculus? wrote:I outlined most of the labour division above, but I will add that in general I don't handle travel/accommodations arrangements for non-first year players. I expect that most of our members know how to be adults and arrange their own travel, although I will inquire about rides, who has space for people to stay, etc. if I am asked, but in the end it's the other person's responsibility to make those arrangements, and I can provide a reimbursement if possible.


I think this is atypical - I haven't heard of any other team where players are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Every team I've been part of has traveled together in normal circumstances. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, just noting its irregularity.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure that Canadian universities offer car rental services to students at the expense of the club budget. At Carnegie Mellon, no one on the team has a car, so a significant amount of the club budget goes towards car rentals. For American clubs: do you guys usually use club members' cars (obviously if they're ok with it) or use university/rental cars to travel to tournaments?
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Calculus? » Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:41 pm

setophaga wrote:
Victor Prieto wrote:
Calculus? wrote:I outlined most of the labour division above, but I will add that in general I don't handle travel/accommodations arrangements for non-first year players. I expect that most of our members know how to be adults and arrange their own travel, although I will inquire about rides, who has space for people to stay, etc. if I am asked, but in the end it's the other person's responsibility to make those arrangements, and I can provide a reimbursement if possible.


I think this is atypical - I haven't heard of any other team where players are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Every team I've been part of has traveled together in normal circumstances. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, just noting its irregularity.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm not sure that Canadian universities offer car rental services to students at the expense of the club budget. At Carnegie Mellon, no one on the team has a car, so a significant amount of the club budget goes towards car rentals. For American clubs: do you guys usually use club members' cars (obviously if they're ok with it) or use university/rental cars to travel to tournaments?


Waterloo, I believe, has some sort of car rental service but the cost comes out of the student's pocket so it's not that much different than just renting a car elsewhere. This is due to the fact that Canadian clubs technically have no budget. From what I understand, many American schools have their institution pay the costs of tournament fees, travel expenses, etc. which is why I frequently receive a cheque from a school and not from individuals when American teams come up here (however this could be wrong because I have limited experience interacting with American teams).

We (and the other Canadian schools afaik) apply for funding from the university every year, but this only ends up being around a couple hundred dollars, not nearly enough to cover our expenses every year. So if no one who owns a car happens to be driving up, it's left to everyone to find the cheapest possible way to wherever they're trying to go, and it actually gets more complicated if I were to try to act as everyone's travel agent. This is why I say I take a more financially oriented approach to running the club, the money has to go to either travel costs or renting cars, as well as tournament fees, otherwise it comes out of player's pockets. I suppose the upside to this is that we have our own bank account and some greater degree of autonomy.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Benin Rebirth Party » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:13 pm

McGill uses the {President, Treasurer, Internal, External} division Victor pointed out. This has worked ever since I came here but I think both president and external needs to be fairly involved members of the interscholastic circuit for it to be effective.

Victor Prieto wrote:
Calculus? wrote:I outlined most of the labour division above, but I will add that in general I don't handle travel/accommodations arrangements for non-first year players. I expect that most of our members know how to be adults and arrange their own travel, although I will inquire about rides, who has space for people to stay, etc. if I am asked, but in the end it's the other person's responsibility to make those arrangements, and I can provide a reimbursement if possible.


I think this is atypical - I haven't heard of any other team where players are responsible for their own travel arrangements. Every team I've been part of has traveled together in normal circumstances. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, just noting its irregularity.


At McGill since 2 of the exec are on the A team and another two are on the B team, players being responsible for travel arrangements ends up being the same as the executives being responsible.

We don't ask anything from our members in terms of "membership fees" or whatever but because the way our club budget works, anything that's not Collegiate Novice has to be paid out of pocket with the expectation that some money gets reimbursed at the end of the semester. We send the student union a budget at the beginning of the semester and update if needed at the end and give all receipts and stuff to them. As I've seen with other clubs at McGill I am involved in, the amount varies a lot based on the student union's club budget and the time at which it is received is inconsistent too. For last school year, we got half our funding in April, and just a few weeks ago we got half of the 2016-17 funding and some money for 2017-18. We've agreed that one of the execs will shell out the money for novice if we don't get an advance, and have the club reimburse later.

In terms of commitment, we currently don't care who comes to practice or whatever since we don't have defined "members" or whatever. Everyone can come to tournaments space permitting, but committed people are more likely to find
themselves on a higher lettered team.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Dec 19, 2017 11:57 pm

Briana and Harris, did you decide to eliminate the Interior/Exterior positions at MSU, or de-emphasize them? As I recall, in addition to the three officers, there were three "roles" (interior, exterior, and librarian, which didn't really do much), and the president chose one role to have in addition to the quote-unquote executive office of president. When I was president, I chose the interior role, because I considered planning and executing lots of successful tournaments vital both to ensuring our club had funding and to developing the Michigan high school circuit. One mistake that I made was also handling a lot of things that I should have delegated to the secretary of the exterior relating to tournament registration and travel planning, but I did a lot of that myself because I was (and still am!) not very good at delegating and trusting that the other person will handle everything to my satisfaction.

Was doing all this doable? Yes, but it was a lot. I think that it would have been less stressful for me to have delegated more, and I also think it would have been better for the club to have other people in leadership roles. A lot of times, having a leadership role makes people buy in to the club's success both administratively and competitively, and having more younger people in these roles would have made the club leadership more resilient when I graduated and took a lot of institutional knowledge with me (incidentally, I did write a number of Google docs on tournament planning and MSU-specific policies and deadlines; not sure how much has changed in 3 years but would be happy to share to prevent duplication of work).
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Progcon » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:38 am

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:Briana and Harris, did you decide to eliminate the Interior/Exterior positions at MSU, or de-emphasize them? As I recall, in addition to the three officers, there were three "roles" (interior, exterior, and librarian, which didn't really do much), and the president chose one role to have in addition to the quote-unquote executive office of president. When I was president, I chose the interior role, because I considered planning and executing lots of successful tournaments vital both to ensuring our club had funding and to developing the Michigan high school circuit. One mistake that I made was also handling a lot of things that I should have delegated to the secretary of the exterior relating to tournament registration and travel planning, but I did a lot of that myself because I was (and still am!) not very good at delegating and trusting that the other person will handle everything to my satisfaction.

Was doing all this doable? Yes, but it was a lot. I think that it would have been less stressful for me to have delegated more, and I also think it would have been better for the club to have other people in leadership roles. A lot of times, having a leadership role makes people buy in to the club's success both administratively and competitively, and having more younger people in these roles would have made the club leadership more resilient when I graduated and took a lot of institutional knowledge with me (incidentally, I did write a number of Google docs on tournament planning and MSU-specific policies and deadlines; not sure how much has changed in 3 years but would be happy to share to prevent duplication of work).


Not to get too far into MSU policies because that's not what this thread is supposed to be about: but yes, I did de-emphasize the three roles. I have taken the interior role the last two years as it has been customary for the president to do. The exterior role is important but will be reworked once I find time to rewrite the constitution. I think there should be someone who manages the schedule and gets hotels, but as this isn't super difficult to do, it's often been the president who does this especially if the person who is in the exterior roll is not going to the tournament. We also like to have someone who is over 21 be in the exterior role because--at least ostensibly--you can not get hotel rooms in some states if you are not 21. That said, I have gotten numerous hotel rooms in multiple states in my name and I'm 20 years old. The Librarian roll has been eliminated because it doesn't make sense for one student to be in charge of packet submissions when they may not be on the team that is submitting (in the case where the Librarian is on A Team and the B Team is submitting too.0)

Alex and Meghan both made great posts and I especially want to highlight some things about the delegation discussion. Delegating is of course important in any leadership position but it must be done with thought. The president doesn't have to TD every event, as I let someone TD our HFT mirror last year because he wanted to and that event went well, but don't delegate the TD responsibilities to some freshman who just learned what tossup-bonus QB was in September. There are lots of simple tasks that the president has to deal with that can be delegated. Some of these things that I did last year include: ordering the trophies for tournaments, making fliers for practices, calling to get a new buzzer AC adapter, etc. Anyone can do those things IMO and I delegated a lot of other things to regular club members and others when I was busy or thought they could do it. This is where I think informal delegation is key. You shouldn't need to make an officer position for "the guy/girl that prints the scoresheets and schedule for a tournament" especially because a lot of QB related tasks only apply to periods right before a tournament is hosted or played. I'm not sure how it is for other clubs, but unless we were travelling or hosting, my weekly hours on quizbowl management was less than an hour not including practice or studying.

I think four officers is the sweet spot less so for their specific responsibilities and more-so for the reason that these four people commit themselves to working hard and will work to improve the club and the club's standing in the QB community. When you have too many positions, you create an incentive for people to try to get the easier positions just for the supposed resume boost (for the record I have never met a professional in the working world who cared I was even president and I'm considering leaving off all QB stuff from my resume). I have heard of a student who won the election uncontested to be an officer for our club and then they quit the club during the summer before actually taking office because they just wanted it for their resume. This student, to my knowledge, is not involved in the community anymore, but these flaky and opportunistic people should be sussed out which is why I think fewer positions is usually better.

I also really don't see the reason to ask things of the members aside from playing tournaments when they want to and are available, staffing the tournaments we host to make money for the club, and be respectful members of the community and enhance the reputation of Michigan State University. Preferably, members would be easy to contact and I think showing up to practice a few times a month is fine. Officers are asked to do a bit more, but I think it's important to acknowledge how busy some college students are and how difficult it can be for people who have jobs, night classes/labs or live far away from campus to come to practice often. Being reachable, pleasant to be around and passionate about improving the club are the most important traits for members to have in my opinion.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:47 am

I would like somebody who was on the Berkeley team in the early to mid 2000's, when it was organized along the lines of the Roman Republic with Consuls and Praetors and such, to come post in this thread.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby brianamagin » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:18 pm

Progcon wrote: Last year, I did everything Briana did this semester and also edited a 20 packet high school set.


To be fair Harris, in order to run the club and edit the entire set you stayed up until ungodly hours of the night or didn't even sleep at all, and that was also with missing multiple deadlines for the packet set.

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:Briana and Harris, did you decide to eliminate the Interior/Exterior positions at MSU, or de-emphasize them? As I recall, in addition to the three officers, there were three "roles" (interior, exterior, and librarian, which didn't really do much), and the president chose one role to have in addition to the quote-unquote executive office of president. When I was president, I chose the interior role, because I considered planning and executing lots of successful tournaments vital both to ensuring our club had funding and to developing the Michigan high school circuit. One mistake that I made was also handling a lot of things that I should have delegated to the secretary of the exterior relating to tournament registration and travel planning, but I did a lot of that myself because I was (and still am!) not very good at delegating and trusting that the other person will handle everything to my satisfaction.

Was doing all this doable? Yes, but it was a lot. I think that it would have been less stressful for me to have delegated more, and I also think it would have been better for the club to have other people in leadership roles. A lot of times, having a leadership role makes people buy in to the club's success both administratively and competitively, and having more younger people in these roles would have made the club leadership more resilient when I graduated and took a lot of institutional knowledge with me (incidentally, I did write a number of Google docs on tournament planning and MSU-specific policies and deadlines; not sure how much has changed in 3 years but would be happy to share to prevent duplication of work).


The librarian position has been eliminated fully but there still are two roles. I am only a sophomore and was only in the club for a year before being delegated president so I'm not really sure how things in the club used to work in the past. What Harris did last year and what I did this semester was actually fully take on both roles along with all the duties of the president. Any tasks that I wanted to delegate usually ended up going to general members of the club because the other two e-board members were not frequently at practices. According to the constitution an e-board member is only supposed to hold one role, but there are a lot of things in our club constitution that we do not follow, which is why I have been working on rewriting a better version.

As far as having more people in leadership roles, I completely agree! I believe people do become more excited about the club when they have leadership and a higher level of involvement. Also, because our team is now a majority of freshmen it would be very easy and beneficial to start our younger members in some roles so that when the time comes they can fully take over the club. And extra roles don't have to be very complicated; for example, we have talked about adding a librarian position but they're not in charge of sending packets they're in charge of reading them at practices and keeping track of what has been read because that is basically what one of our freshmen members did for us this semester.

Progcon wrote:Alex and Meghan both made great posts and I especially want to highlight some things about the delegation discussion. Delegating is of course important in any leadership position but it must be done with thought. The president doesn't have to TD every event, as I let someone TD our HFT mirror last year because he wanted to and that event went well, but don't delegate the TD responsibilities to some freshman who just learned what tossup-bonus QB was in September. There are lots of simple tasks that the president has to deal with that can be delegated. Some of these things that I did last year include: ordering the trophies for tournaments, making fliers for practices, calling to get a new buzzer AC adapter, etc. Anyone can do those things IMO and I delegated a lot of other things to regular club members and others when I was busy or thought they could do it. This is where I think informal delegation is key. You shouldn't need to make an officer position for "the guy/girl that prints the scoresheets and schedule for a tournament" especially because a lot of QB related tasks only apply to periods right before a tournament is hosted or played. I'm not sure how it is for other clubs, but unless we were travelling or hosting, my weekly hours on quizbowl management was less than an hour not including practice or studying.

I think four officers is the sweet spot less so for their specific responsibilities and more-so for the reason that these four people commit themselves to working hard and will work to improve the club and the club's standing in the QB community.


Harris I highly agree with the delegation of simpler tasks, like buying book prizes or getting bagels for the morning tournaments. However, there are also times where it's okay to delegate bigger tasks. For example, being really new to the collegiate quiz bowl scene and also not being familiar with the high school teams in the area meant that I had no clue how to seed for the tournaments I ran, so I had other members of the club sit down with me and tell me what they thought was best and we worked it out together. I also definitely understand the struggle with delegation, last year when we were writing our 20-packet set I basically had to beg to be able to write questions for it. Now I understand that I was a freshmen and I was new to writing questions, but they were only high school difficulty and we needed them desperately. I feel like in the quiz bowl community as a whole when it comes to leadership trust is a really big issue and there are definitely situations where the leaders need to give their other members a little more credit.

Also Harris, no offense, but you have told me that you would be comfortable eliminating most positions and just having two officers. You like to take on as much as you can physically handle with the club so that no one has to do something that might not be up to your level of satisfaction. Which again, I understand because trust is a big issue. However four officers I believe will give the club more balance and excite people more about obtaining leadership.


On another note, something I didn't think to ask up above, how do you go about preparing younger members for future leadership? I know that probably this upcoming year if not for sure the one after that the MSU club will have an entirely new e-board. Now I know there is no way I could figure out the treasurer position without someone teaching me, or even the presidential position! I had no idea of my duties when being delegated as president of the club and I wouldn't have been able to accomplish all I did had I not had the opportunity to ask Harris questions when necessary.
So how do you decide who to take under your wing and start training for when you're gone?
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Progcon » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:30 pm

All: can we please not turn this into a discussion of MSU quizbowl history and practices? What I have said in Facebook messages or what I have expressed to people in confidence should stay private and I really don't want to have a long conversation about my club's policies on this forum when I have more important things to do like prepare for a flight on Friday and work on some questions. That said, I think it's entirely doable--depending on club size, goals and membership willingness-- to run a club with two officers as Alex explained at Missouri. In terms of learning how procedures work, the best thing to do is ask the people currently in those positions how they operate. I don't think any officer in any club would purposely turn down the offer to explain their position if they have the time.

Also, it helps to have former officer and older, experienced members help out like when I was working on the WAO II schedule while in Munich or when I was helping the club seed for its first high school tournament when I would be on a hike while the tournament was going on. There are plenty of people outside of your club too who would be happy to help. Speaking for myself, if any club wants advice or help, feel free to email or PM me! I know I would not be nearly as adept at doing things in the QB community if it wasn't for mentors and older people giving me tips. I learn new stuff about how QB works all the time from people on this forum and in real life.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Victor Prieto » Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:58 pm

brianamagin wrote:On another note, something I didn't think to ask up above, how do you go about preparing younger members for future leadership? I know that probably this upcoming year if not for sure the one after that the MSU club will have an entirely new e-board. Now I know there is no way I could figure out the treasurer position without someone teaching me, or even the presidential position! I had no idea of my duties when being delegated as president of the club and I wouldn't have been able to accomplish all I did had I not had the opportunity to ask Harris questions when necessary.
So how do you decide who to take under your wing and start training for when you're gone?


me, earlier in this thread wrote:One thing I specifically did at Rice was specifically avoid the president role for senior year, and made the president make decisions instead of me. I was always there to help and to provide as much information as possible about what was going on outside of the club. That system seemed to work okay for preserving important skills in the leadership of the club.


My senior year was the only time I've been part of a club when a freshman jumped straight to president as a sophomore (she was great at it though). Every other time, the incoming president has held a more junior officer role, and saw how club decisions were made before taking the president position.

I should note that the treasurer position is absolutely critical to keeping a club functioning properly. Besides the president, it is very, very important to preserve institutional knowledge for treasurers, preferably by direct mentorship instead of handing down google docs (although those are still invaluable).
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby CPiGuy » Wed Dec 20, 2017 1:00 pm

Michigan has four roles: internal, external, finance, and tournament director. We have no "president", which I think is a good thing. (Technically we also have a "coach" position, presumably originally for CBI, but that hasn't been filled for ages; we just haven't removed it from the constitution...) In general, the internal director organizes practices and deals with our own administration (getting certified as a club, mandatory trainings, etc.). External (me) deals with tournament registration, determining who wants to go to tournaments, travel coordination, and other things of that sort (e.g. packet submission requests, although I obviously do not actually look at packets from other Michigan teams). Finance and tournament director pretty much do what it says on the tin.

brianamagin wrote:On another note, something I didn't think to ask up above, how do you go about preparing younger members for future leadership? I know that probably this upcoming year if not for sure the one after that the MSU club will have an entirely new e-board. Now I know there is no way I could figure out the treasurer position without someone teaching me, or even the presidential position! I had no idea of my duties when being delegated as president of the club and I wouldn't have been able to accomplish all I did had I not had the opportunity to ask Harris questions when necessary.


Well, we have elections for board positions, so there's some element of self-selection in that the people who are interested in running for elections run for elections. The elections aren't right at the end of the year, so new board members have time to discuss their duties with the outgoing members, so there's a bit of continuity. I think the answer to your question is "make sure the new board members know they'll be new board members before the end of the previous year".
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Calculus? » Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:14 pm

brianamagin wrote:On another note, something I didn't think to ask up above, how do you go about preparing younger members for future leadership? I know that probably this upcoming year if not for sure the one after that the MSU club will have an entirely new e-board. Now I know there is no way I could figure out the treasurer position without someone teaching me, or even the presidential position! I had no idea of my duties when being delegated as president of the club and I wouldn't have been able to accomplish all I did had I not had the opportunity to ask Harris questions when necessary.
So how do you decide who to take under your wing and start training for when you're gone?


Elections were another thing we kind of had to overhaul in the past couple years as our membership grew enough to actually have multiple people interested in one position. What I have generally done, and what I will do again this year especially since I'll be graduating, is speak to newer members who seem to have an enthusiasm for the club beyond just casually showing up to practices and who I think would do a good job in the position. If they seem interested and like they would be able to handle the commitment we encourage them to run for a position. I generally try to have these people staff a lot of tournaments, learn to do stats, etc. so that they're not thrown in blindly to the position. I will let someone I think is up to it TD if they want to, of course, and we had a couple instances of that this year.

Harris mentioned people who try to snag positions because they think it'll boost their resume and this is something I have really tried to prevent in the past, both by talking to people ahead of time and through the scheduling of our elections. We do our elections at the end of the year to try and minimize people who come in, stay for a week, try to run for a position to put on their resume without realizing the actual amount of work it requires, the amount of money that passes through our hands, etc. and then disappear off the face of the earth a week later.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby grapesmoker » Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:17 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I would like somebody who was on the Berkeley team in the early to mid 2000's, when it was organized along the lines of the Roman Republic with Consuls and Praetors and such, to come post in this thread.


Apparently I have been summoned in my official capacity as An Old.

This organizational structure predated my arrival and, I believe, the arrival of almost anyone with any current connection to quizbowl, save the man who himself designed it: H. Gaius Stern, once of Maryland and later of Berkeley, or, as it was sometimes known in those days, Maryland West. Gaius was a devout Romanist of the non-Papal variety, and since he was basically the founder and, for many years, effectively the sole ruler of Berkeley Quizbowl, he ended up writing the constitution of the club as it existed from whenever it was that he wrote it up until circa 2003 or so. In a nod to democratic norms, the club officers were named after the officials of the Roman Republic: there was a dual presidency structure with power split between the "consuls," there were "proconsuls" who were basically the vice presidents, the treasurer was a "quaestor" and I'll be damned if I remember what, if anything, was the function of the "praetor" in our club structure.

Needless to say, like every other quizbowl organization, anything ever only got done if someone was willing to step up and do it, regardless of whether they did or did not hold any official position in the club. The titles were almost invariably useless for any practical purpose, and served only to cement Gaius' position as the ur-member of Berkeley's team. In the early oughts, this suited most everyone pretty well; the club's ambitions were relatively small, we mostly did whatever we wanted without too many problems, and things were generally ok. Like the Roman Republic itself, however, this era of tranquility came to an end at the hands of an insurgency in which I was a moderately important participant.

Basically, there were several drawbacks to this setup: first, having wacky names instead of normal club officer titles resulted in the administration not taking our club seriously. This was especially problematic when we tried to solicit money for attending national tournaments, which we really wanted to start to do around 2002 when we became nationally competitive. In addition, trying to invoice high school teams as "quaestor" also tended to be viewed somewhat skeptically and recruiting non-fans of the Republic (not to mention running-dogs for the Empire who were good at science or whatever) was also difficult. Finally, the names themselves were viewed by many in the club, myself included, as the dead shadow of Gaius running the show from the background; by 2002 or 2003, Gaius was no longer actively involved in club affairs, making only occasional appearances at practices.

Striving to get the club to be taken more seriously, a committed revolutionary vanguard numbering, among others, your faithful narrator, instigated a change to the club constitution, replacing the dual-consul structure with a much more conventional presidential setup. Naturally, Gaius viewed this as a direct challenge to his authority within the club, which of course it was; a bitter power struggle not unworthy of an imperial succession ensued, during which I was accused (not unfairly) of "double-crossing" Gaius. My legendary perfidy notwithstanding, the rebellious cadres stormed the palace, pulled down the statues of the consuls, and sent ex-dictator Stern into exile among the high schoolers. The club functioned extremely well from then on and nothing bad ever happened to Berkeley Quizbowl again, the end.

This is more or less how it went down. I guess I can tell more tales of early-oughts west coast QB if people are interested.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Wed Dec 20, 2017 4:47 pm

grapesmoker wrote:This is more or less how it went down. I guess I can tell more tales of early-oughts west coast QB if people are interested.

Absolutely always.
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby An Economic Ignoramus » Wed Dec 20, 2017 5:23 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:This is more or less how it went down. I guess I can tell more tales of early-oughts west coast QB if people are interested.

Absolutely always.

Also this
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Re: How Do You Run Your Club

Postby setht » Fri Dec 22, 2017 11:08 am

grapesmoker wrote:
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I would like somebody who was on the Berkeley team in the early to mid 2000's, when it was organized along the lines of the Roman Republic with Consuls and Praetors and such, to come post in this thread.


Apparently I have been summoned in my official capacity as An Old.

This organizational structure predated my arrival and, I believe, the arrival of almost anyone with any current connection to quizbowl, save the man who himself designed it: H. Gaius Stern, once of Maryland and later of Berkeley, or, as it was sometimes known in those days, Maryland West. Gaius was a devout Romanist of the non-Papal variety, and since he was basically the founder and, for many years, effectively the sole ruler of Berkeley Quizbowl, he ended up writing the constitution of the club as it existed from whenever it was that he wrote it up until circa 2003 or so. In a nod to democratic norms, the club officers were named after the officials of the Roman Republic: there was a dual presidency structure with power split between the "consuls," there were "proconsuls" who were basically the vice presidents, the treasurer was a "quaestor" and I'll be damned if I remember what, if anything, was the function of the "praetor" in our club structure.

Needless to say, like every other quizbowl organization, anything ever only got done if someone was willing to step up and do it, regardless of whether they did or did not hold any official position in the club. The titles were almost invariably useless for any practical purpose, and served only to cement Gaius' position as the ur-member of Berkeley's team. In the early oughts, this suited most everyone pretty well; the club's ambitions were relatively small, we mostly did whatever we wanted without too many problems, and things were generally ok. Like the Roman Republic itself, however, this era of tranquility came to an end at the hands of an insurgency in which I was a moderately important participant.

Basically, there were several drawbacks to this setup: first, having wacky names instead of normal club officer titles resulted in the administration not taking our club seriously. This was especially problematic when we tried to solicit money for attending national tournaments, which we really wanted to start to do around 2002 when we became nationally competitive. In addition, trying to invoice high school teams as "quaestor" also tended to be viewed somewhat skeptically and recruiting non-fans of the Republic (not to mention running-dogs for the Empire who were good at science or whatever) was also difficult. Finally, the names themselves were viewed by many in the club, myself included, as the dead shadow of Gaius running the show from the background; by 2002 or 2003, Gaius was no longer actively involved in club affairs, making only occasional appearances at practices.

Striving to get the club to be taken more seriously, a committed revolutionary vanguard numbering, among others, your faithful narrator, instigated a change to the club constitution, replacing the dual-consul structure with a much more conventional presidential setup. Naturally, Gaius viewed this as a direct challenge to his authority within the club, which of course it was; a bitter power struggle not unworthy of an imperial succession ensued, during which I was accused (not unfairly) of "double-crossing" Gaius. My legendary perfidy notwithstanding, the rebellious cadres stormed the palace, pulled down the statues of the consuls, and sent ex-dictator Stern into exile among the high schoolers. The club functioned extremely well from then on and nothing bad ever happened to Berkeley Quizbowl again, the end.

This is more or less how it went down. I guess I can tell more tales of early-oughts west coast QB if people are interested.


The Berkeley club's constitution was changed in Fall 2001 (see here).

Prior to that, we just had two consuls and a quaestor. I'm pretty sure we never had proconsuls or praetors (although various consuls and quaestors seemingly got confused about this and pulled a proconsul/praetor peregrinus act, disappearing from the club before their term was up). If we did have more than those three officers, it was before my time, if such a thing is even possible.

I support early-oughts west coast QB story time with Jerry, but be warned that during his time at Cal, Jerry was found to be a source of many lies and a conduit for others. Take whatever he says with a grain of salt (or sugar, but definitely not sand).

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