Images provided by author. Top: WHS students at club rush.
Shuffling through my WHS planner, I am puzzled by the three and a half pages occupied by a ridiculously long list of over 50 clubs. Most definitely, a lot of these clubs are absolutely useless!
To start off, let us actually examine this list to get an idea of what our school is working with here. One of the first things to notice is that there are over five clubs dedicated solely to volunteering and community service, not even in a specific area of interest, but rather just ‘to help the community or ‘to promote good’ as claimed by their “purposes” in the planner. There must be some form of miscommunication here, as these clubs, who all appear to offer the exact same thing on paper, should not logically co-exist. The only differences appear to be in their names, and most certainly, a different name should not be a key qualification to be able to register a new club.
Pages 8-9 in the WHS Planner (HAB).
IOC’s 2021-22 Club List.
While club management is supposed to be a tedious process, about 20+ clubs, almost half the clubs on the roster, don’t even host bi-monthly meetings, equating to only 9-10 club meetings per year. Four of these clubs don’t even provide a description of their meeting logistics. Clubs are places where students meet others like them through similar interests and passions. How do we even learn each other’s names, let alone bond over these passions, when we only see each other 9-10 times a year? What real responsibilities are the club leaders actually bearing in organizing a few, scattered meetings throughout the year?
Additionally, some of the clubs that do end up following through with meetings end up becoming more of a social gathering among the same friend circles. These essentially turn into the same old lunchtime interactions disguised in the form of “club meetings.”
More often than not, club registration appears to be a holy grail for those students seeking to boast about their extraordinary extracurriculars and boost their college applications. And this process does not appear to be restrictive enough to only register clubs that show future planning and a unique purpose. Having been in close interaction with the leadership of many clubs and having been part of club leadership myself, I can pinpoint the countless loopholes that any student can use to exploit our school’s negligence in such matters.
Is It Really That Easy?
With the pressure of demonstrating my unparalleled passion for community service, I would start off by filling out a simple, straightforward, and inherently faulty form. The ingredients I would need are: a mediocre social life of about 10-15 friends to pose as possible future members, a relatively lenient advisor, and a few other “leaders” dedicated to this elaborate scheme. After my club is registered, once a month, I would attend a 10 to 15-minute IOC meeting and fill out a document titled “Meeting Minutes” with a well-crafted story on how this fictional meeting might have taken place. Following these basic rules, I would have already set myself up as a better candidate than some of the more deserving leaders at our school, who might be too afraid to start a club, fearing that they don’t have anything new to offer.
By giving everyone so much freedom to create a club whenever and however they want, we discredit those who actually are passionate about their clubs and put time into their club preparations. To combat this, the Inter-Organizational Council (IOC), the leadership team responsible for club activities at WHS, needs to reinforce more follow-ups to only let those clubs who consistently hold productive meetings to continue throughout the year. And no… it is not through “Meeting Minutes.” These follow-ups might include submitting club projects every quarter that demonstrates a positive impact on the school. In addition, club registration should require a few planned meetings or deliverables (like emails of guest lecturers, presentations, etc.) ahead of time to ensure that the clubs have the potential to function after they are registered as a club rather than just being inactive immediately after registration. While these seem like harsher measures and put more pressure on leaders to perform, students would be forced to actually put some thought into creating a club rather than making one because they can.
Shaunak Roy is a senior at Washington High School. Having spent the first ten years of his life amidst the tightly-knit neighborhoods of India, Shaunak continues his passion for communal activities by playing gully cricket with his friends and participating in dance teams in the States. As a first-year member of The Hatchet, he strives to interview students at his school and report their unique stories, while occasionally reviewing horrible Bollywood movies for the mere fun of it. Besides being randomly interested in watching chess videos and singing in video calls with his sister, Shaunak has developed a strong passion for physics and engineering over the past few years of high school, which he plans to further explore in college.