Last April, over a dozen club leaders came together for a meeting to resolve an issue that, as of late, has been a topic of much discussion: club culture. After serving as a member of the working group created from that meeting, I have come to see that the largest part of the problem — the component that elevates this topic from an issue to a systemic crisis — is rejection.
Ari Goldstein’s (COL ’18) April 12 op-ed in The Hoya details steps Georgetown’s administration should take to address club culture. Those calls to action are valid. Yet, there is a glaring omission in his recommendations. The piece notes how students should be able to join communities on campus “without having to submit an application,” but failed to talk about why those applications exist in the first place.
The problem of club culture cannot be fixed without acknowledging that the clubs themselves are significantly responsible for it. The root of this issue is not Georgetown’s alcohol policy, or whether social events are held on Leavey Esplanade. This problem was created — and continues to be perpetuated — by students.
Our club leaders have not done enough. If they genuinely care about the damage their groups’ exclusivity has on our student body, they first have to reckon with it. They must take steps to create divisions of their organizations that are application-free and offer students pathways to increased involvement within the club. Though clubs may suggest their organizations are not conducive to change, they must come to terms with the fact that they are the only ones in a position to change that reality. Historical precedent is not reason enough to ignore the damage that club exclusivity has done to our student body.
No group is expected to have a complete solution to this problem, but they are expected to try to find one. Our club leaders cannot cheer criticisms of the administration while refusing to acknowledge their own culpability in this crisis. As a student body, we need to recognize that asking the administration to enact change is not enough.
A few weeks ago, I was talking with a freshman who was rejected by two clubs. I asked him how he felt and if he would apply again. He shook his head, looked at his coffee and said, “I don’t think so. That’s just the way it is.”