The root issue of club inflation

It is no secret that quarantine has made the club registration process this year less than ideal. With regular limits for founding a club, like finding an adviser, removed entirely, the amount of clubs has ballooned to well over the upper limit of available advisers and rooms. This gigantic influx of new clubs, many of which have inconsequential or purposefully vague mission statements, indicates that there is something deeply wrong with the way that the systems in place encourage students to look at clubs.

The main cause of this sudden increase is obvious to even the most uninvolved of students: people are seeking club leadership positions, and the only way they can obtain them is to create new clubs. What is peculiar about this simple observation is that, when phrased this way, it seems to imply that the blame is on the student for trying to “game the system.” However, with a closer look, students find that the incentive of creating clubs in the first place is the main driver of this seemingly gratuitous increase. When students hear that colleges want proof of “leadership ability” and “interpersonal skills”, what better way is there to show (or manufacture) your qualifications than to personally found a club, assume leadership of it, and command members like a real leader? This makes it quite easy to put another fancy name like president and captain on the resume in order to further impress college admissions staff. 

Is it fair to blame students for creating such clubs? After all, with the amount of competition for college admission becoming more and more fierce each year, it is only natural that those who do not have the ability or connections to be promoted to a leadership position will make one. After all, who wants to give up on such a large part of the college admission process just because they are not part of a handful of people who consolidate multiple club leaderships? This position, of course, forces the hand of every student who wants club leadership in the first place. The hypercompetitive environment in which they find themselves draws students not to honesty, but to a game of politics to carve out a spot in the upper echelons of their respective classes, a frankly pointless exercise. 

Interestingly enough, many of the clubs being created do not serve specific or unique goals, and many of them are merely subtle variations on already existing clubs. The emergence of several new volunteering clubs especially raises uncertainty in regards to the authenticity of the clubs’ self-proclaimed objectives. The fact that these types of clubs are created left and right in a time when volunteering activity itself is strictly limited — social distancing policies prohibits face-to-face interaction with the community — gives the impression that these clubs place more of an emphasis on positions than they do on their actual collective goal If people genuinely prioritized the objective of benefiting the community, there wouldn’t be a need to create new clubs amongst pre-existing ones. Yet, the idea that a plethora of clubs share a common goal implies that these clubs solely exist to provide the student body with opportunities to gain officer titles. 

This isn’t all about criticizing students for creating new clubs. Without clubs, students would lack the opportunity to explore their passions, develop practical skills and most importantly, network with each other. However, what’s important to call into question is if the motives of the club are authentic, and whether or not those motives are founded on the superficial reason of giving positions. Ultimately when the leaders of these clubs lack genuine commitment and interest, the “club” that is made is a far cry from what an active, successful club entails.

By Andrew Kim, Copy and Coverage Editor-in-chief
Editorial cartoon by Joy Wang