At tomorrow’s club fair, undergraduates will navigate crowded tables in the Healey Family Student Center in an effort to find a cause, a team and a community that aligns with their interests. Entry to these clubs should not depend on an application.

Clubs provide undergraduates with the opportunity to explore new ideas, fields and communities within the comfort of their university. Expecting a certain level of experience or deeming a student unqualified to participate is counter to an organization’s purpose in engaging students. To reduce exclusivity, clubs that receive benefits from the Center of Student Engagement should eliminate applications.

At Georgetown, clubs are organizations that receive financial support and university resources from the CSE. As the administrational umbrella for clubs, the CSE funds the majority of student groups. With the Center’s mission to foster “student learning and development through co-curricular involvement,” clubs must allow all students the opportunity to engage and grow.

Club selectivity is pervasive in Georgetown culture. The central role of exclusive clubs in social life increases student stress for those attempting to join them.

While some organizations have tried to remedy club selectivity in recent years — most notably the Lecture Fund, which decided in 2017 to accept all students to its general body, and Blue and Gray Tour Guide Society, which in 2018 required freshmen to apply after one semester at Georgetown— these measures are not enough by themselves to combat club culture. CSE-backed clubs must also remove applications.

While most clubs and organizations are funded by the CSE, notable exceptions include Students of Georgetown, Inc., commonly known as The Corp; the Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union; and Blue and Gray.

As these organizations operate as businesses or direct representatives of the university, they have a logical need for applications. While they should do more to increase accessibility, removing applications is not practical.

However, CSE-backed clubs that currently require applications, such as certain debate, performing arts and media groups — including The Hoya — must also recognize their role in perpetuating club selectivity. For these organizations, applications prevent the realization of student engagement.

Removing applications from clubs — which are meant to encourage student growth — is an essential step toward healing a campus plagued by a “sleep when you’re dead” mentality. Without applications, club prestige would equalize and participation would increase across organizations.

Moreover, eliminating applications could encourage healthy levels of club participation. Rigorous application cycles perpetuate the notion that club membership is an elite status to be earned and maintained. Recruitment without applications could decrease pressure to excessively participate and create stronger clubs by bringing in genuinely interested members rather than just experienced members.

Changing recruitment practices would not mean that organizations would have no method of ensuring new members are capable and committed. In place of applications, clubs could use interest forms or inclusive entrance requirements to demonstrate commitment.

For example, Georgetown University College Democrats and Republicans use an “interest form” model. All students who complete the interest form are accepted into the club; this model ensures new members are dedicated to the club without hindering efficiency.

Similarly, Philodemic Society membership depends on participation in workshops and mentorship. This method not only ensures commitment, but also prepares students for active engagement in the club.

By using applications, club leaders have forgone inclusive approaches to recruitment in favor of a model predicated on chasing prestige.

In recruiting new members, clubs should ensure students are committed and capable. However, applications are not necessary to achieve this goal.

If club leaders genuinely seek to combat club culture, all clubs receiving CSE benefits must remove their applications.

The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and chaired by the opinion editor. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.

2 Comments

  1. Across the Pond says:

    Yet another step on the path of participation trophies! The smart kids are the ones spending their time at internships, not doing clubs anyway.

  2. A lot of these clubs offer amazing opportunities that unfortunately are only possible if numbers are limited. I’m glad you noted this in your article when you mentioned The Corp and a couple others, but I think this same logic applies to a lot more clubs than that statement makes it sound like. Right off the bat, I can think of at least 10 other clubs that operate similarly to real businesses/nonprofits. Why should these clubs—which have somehow been deemed exclusive for just being realistic and acting like an actual business—have to let everyone into their clubs. A lot of the time, there wouldn’t be enough work for people to do if numbers were higher than they already are. I’ll admit: I’m not entirely sure which clubs are CSE-backed and which are not, but I am just assuming most of these are. Open to being corrected though haha. Just my thoughts!

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