Underage Clubs Bounced

REVAMPING AND RETHINKING Senior Sarah, president of USO: “Support Our Troops” club, discusses changes with Community Service Director Laura Day (top right). Seniors Giovanna and Natalie, JETS club presidents, brainstorm for the upcoming robotics season (top left). Senior Anna displays the sign she will use at club fair to recruit new members to TOMS club (above). Photos by Hailey

 

Student Council and Dean Matthews shut down clubs that do not continue activity throughout the entire school year

Hockaday has long prided itself on the freedom with which its club structure has provided to its students: if you don’t see the club you want, you can start it yourself! But last year, the longstanding issue of the “fall clubs” – clubs which held  a couple meetings in the fall, then never met during the spring intensified: of the nine clubs which sophomore Emily was a member last year, only two met throughout the school year.

This is not a limited problem. Around 83 clubs submitted applications last year. Though no data was kept on club activity, Dean Matthews estimates that “40 to 45” clubs continued to meet throughout the year, only half of the original number.

After observing this “lack of meetings and… low level of commitment” from club presidents, the Student Council decided to reform the club system, said current Vice President of Student Council senior Christin. She worked closely with Dean Matthews to ensure that “Hockaday clubs have a purpose and reflect students’ interests rather than serving as resume fillers.”

In order to achieve this goal, the Student Council and the Administration have changed the rules which govern whether or not a club is officially recognized by the school – whether or not a student can put it on her resume.

Three of these changes were announced during the assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 7: first, new clubs must follow guidelines during their “probationary period;” second, club secretaries must record minutes and attendance during club meetings; and third, any requests for extra funding must be accompanied by a detailed explanation.

There are others that went unannounced: a change from a requirement that clubs meet “regularly” to one that they meet “monthly,” a new rule that all clubs with a service mission must be approved by the Community Service Director and a limit on fundraising by clubs.

Some club leaders worry about the changes. Junior Nikita, president-elect of Book Club, supported meeting regularly but questioned the feasibility of meeting monthly. The question here is where to draw the line: though monthly meetings seems  strict, the old application rule that clubs “meet on a regular basis” was too lax, for “a regular basis” could be quarterly (or never). Hopefully, the availability of exemptions – for those who can justify them to Christin – will help find a balance.

Others were unconcerned about the new rules. Senior Giovanna, multimedia coordinator for the Junior Engineering and Technology Society, said, “JETS has already been [meeting these requirements] because [we] need to for our competition.”

Individually, most of these changes will not have a significant impact on the way clubs are run. Already, requests for extra funding require explanation, and club secretaries were asked to e-mail minutes of club meetings to the Student Council Vice President. What will make a difference, however, is the increased scrutiny that clubs will be under.

Though these changes are sure to guarantee a better club experience for all Upper School students, for now, there is only one effect the students have seen: a later date for club fair.

Sophomore Shreya, who plans to start her own club this fall, says that “many clubs…had difficulty” because though they “had events early on in the school year, the club fair was later than usual.” But the new rules and the better experiences they encourage are worth the wait.

– Kay