New MSU Rhodes club boasts 1,000 members


A new campus club dedicated to upholding the academic, physical and moral beliefs espoused by Cecil J. Rhodes has blossomed to 1,000 members.

MSU Rhodes is a club geared to encourage students to excel in their academic and physical pursuits as well as develop a strong commitment to volunteerism and helping others.

Club president David Nagel, a Level IV Faculty of Science student, says the club evolved from discussions with friends.

“We wanted to improve student life,” he says, “and we wanted to help people prepare for their post-grad life and future careers.”

Nagel says the founding group admired Cecil J. Rhodes (a British financier and Oxford graduate who made his fortune from the diamond mines in South Africa and left most of it for the establishment of the Rhodes Scholarships)and decided a club based on Rhodes' guiding principles would be an asset to campus life at McMaster.

Nagel says he contacted Oxford University to obtain permission to use the Rhodes name.

“It isn't Faculty-specific,” he says. “The idea is to help students prepare from the start to be the best that they can be.”

About 70 per cent of the members are first-year students who are keen to meet new people, improve their academic work habits or learn what's needed to apply for graduate school and perform volunteer work with charities, Nagel says.

To become a member, students simply have to send in an e-mail application that is accessible from the club's Web site at

Nagel says two banks gave the club executive $1,300 last summer that was used for advertising to kick-start the group.

So far, the club's events are popular.

About 500 people attended the club's opening ceremonies in September.

Earlier this month, about 300 people attended an information seminar on entrance requirements for MBA and medical school programs presented by David Lawson of the Career Planning and Employment Centre. The club executive is planning another seminar focused on applying to law school and teachers' college.

Lawson said the group is providing a valuable service.
“They turned out more people for that one event than I could do in three or four sessions,” he said. “They're providing a great service.”

The club also organizes weekly physical activities such as runs with group members and two types of volunteer opportunities: a “blind date” system that links five students with a Hamilton non-profit organization for a day and fundraising events geared to specific charities each month. The volunteer work can involve working at a homeless shelter or raising money for the Red Cross.

Executive member Natalie Cefaratti says the club will consider itself a success if students find the information and activities available to them useful.

“If we have students coming up and developing more balance then it's working,” says Cefaratti, a Level III student.

“This club builds a sense of confidence. The volunteer work, the opportunities to learn, make you more confident to strive and achieve what you want.”