The Cheese Club hosted their inaugural grand cheese tasting event on Dec. 7, 2018, in the UC. The club doesn't yet have full recognition by student senate. (Courtesy of Jacob Oakman)

Cheese Club hopes for gouda luck in the future

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To brie The Cheese Club or not to brie The Cheese Club? That is the question.

While it may sound a little cheesy, that is the deliberation Matthew Riel, ’22, and Student Senate are working through.

Riel said he has always been passionate about cheese, and upon coming to Lehigh in the fall he learned there was a possible interest for an on-campus club dedicated to cheese.

“The initial way it got started was for my birthday, I decided to hold a cheese tasting for my friends,” Riel said. “They all really enjoyed it and were very surprised. They didn’t realize you could have this many different types of cheese and aging could impact it this much. Afterward, I was thinking about it and how nice it would be if the school could fund this because there really is an audience for it.”

A few weeks later, Riel presented in front of Student Senate, advocating for the club to go from a trial club to a registered. 

In the beginning of the fall semester, 30 people were interested and a month later it held its first cheese tasting event.

“We pulled in over 100 people to the event, it was beautiful. It was a massive cheese tasting. We had people come business casual, there was live cello music and all different types of cheese in the UC. It was a really fun time,” he said.

Right now, the cheese club remains a trial club and does not yet have full recognition.

Student Senate President Zach Vinik, ’20, said to become a registered club after being a trial club, you have to fulfill your club mission to the best possible ability.

“So it’s ‘do they meet that mission, are they engaging their members, and if so how,'” Vinik said. “We look for this in a couple of different ways, such as do you have large scale events and are your members involved in the planning of these events, such as setup and participation beyond just being present. There needs to be more of an intentional involvement.” 

Sophia Closter, ‘21, club affairs chair for Student Senate, said to become a fully recognized club, members must be engaged and able to speak about their club involvement.

This requirement wasn’t apparent yet to The Cheese Club and is why it remains a trial club, Vinik said.

“If there’s a place and demand for your club at Lehigh we will give you full recognition,” Closter said. “So after you present, you will either continue as a trail club or gain full recognition, but we will never tell a club, ‘No you can’t exist,’ but instead, let’s continue the trial period and help you find your groove.”

Closter said Student Senate can help trial clubs and answer questions they have along the way. 

Vinik said Student Senate tries to make sure clubs are getting to where they need to be so they can stay involved and active for years to come.

Riel said The Cheese Club is working closely with Student Senate to gain full recognition. The club has nine board members but are opening up another five spots. Cheese Club is planning a large upscale event for May.

“Basically, we look forward to continuing to provide a really fun and unique social opportunity,” Riel said. 

He said he regards the cheese tastings in a very high manner, getting excited about different varieties and ages of the cheese. More than this, he views it as a place where people can gather with friends, hang out and even try new foods.

Closter and Vinik said students should be aware of how easy it is to create clubs and that a lot of students don’t understand the process to create one.

“I feel like this is a really good example of a group of students that said, ‘I have these interests that I think a lot of other students would really enjoy, and I can make a club out of this,’” Vinik said. “The more this happens the more we get really awesome and impactful organizations.”

Riel said he wants the community to know that The Cheese Club is open to all students, even lactose intolerant ones.

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