Over seven semesters, I have had the opportunity to be accepted into some, and rejected from even more, of Georgetown University’s most exclusive clubs. Having been a member of the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund and Blue & Gray and now the president of Hilltop Consultants, I have seen all facets of this system, and I have learned its flaws firsthand. The overwhelming stress placed on freshmen the moment they arrive on campus is premature and detrimental to their assimilation into Georgetown’s community. The status quo among application-based clubs and organizations represents a broken system, and the extreme proposition of eliminating all club applications is logistically infeasible.
A schoolwide policy delaying recruitment for application-based clubs until the spring semester for freshmen would be a significant first step toward a healthier club culture. By waiting until the spring semester to hire freshmen, all clubs would benefit from allowing new students the time to develop genuine interest about their organization, and they would avoid reading applications born out of rushed anxiety.
Every August, wide-eyed freshmen attempt to assimilate to a new school, a new city and a new lifestyle away from their families. Within two weeks, they are overwhelmed by hundreds of clubs at CAB Fair all vying for their attention and application. Some clubs tell students that they will want to become professional consultants; others use the allure of investment banking. But in reality, most freshmen do not have the slightest idea what those fields are, let alone whether they want to dedicate a significant portion of their undergraduate experience to such organizations. New students might not decide their career path by the spring semester, but they certainly will have had more time to make an informed decision as to which clubs they want to apply to through conversations with their peers and introduction to new fields through coursework.
The tangible mental health benefits that this policy would engender far outweigh any argument for maintaining freshman fall club hiring. Assimilating into college creates enough anxiety for freshmen; they do not need social and professional stress to strain them as they attempt to find a new home on the Hilltop.
I know that, in response to this proposal, students could argue that I should lead this charge by changing Hilltop Consultants’ hiring policy. But this is the crux of the problem. This initiative cannot be effective without an overarching, schoolwide policy. Individual clubs can certainly enact these policies, but the stigma, stress and anxiety associated with premature club hiring cannot be improved without buy-in from every club that contributes to the problem. Without unanimous participation, freshmen would simply apply to whichever clubs still take their fall applications.
Such a policy should be applied not only to pre-professional clubs such as Hilltop Consultants and GUSIF, but also to all clubs that maintain an acceptance rate below 100%. Consequently, clubs like Blue & Gray that maintain extremely low acceptance rates should also be affected. I would also strongly advocate for organizations such as The Corp and GUASFCU, whose hiring processes are not regulated by the school, to also opt in to such practices.
Additionally, this policy would encourage students to develop friendships outside of the exclusive circles created by certain clubs. First-semester freshmen in exclusive clubs can easily cocoon themselves in groups of friends only from those clubs. Allowing students at least one semester to develop friendships will inevitably foster social ties beyond walled-off club cliques.
Moreover, one cannot deny the privilege granted to certain students in club admissions based on the high school they attended. Having attended a private preparatory boarding school, I benefited from the institutional knowledge of eight to 10 Hoyas in each grade above me as a first-semester freshman. They helped me navigate the club culture at Georgetown before even arriving on campus, and I have passed along the favor to younger high school classmates. Pushing back applications to the spring would undoubtedly help attenuate such forms of privilege by giving other students time to integrate and understand the club landscape on their own.
This suggestion is by no means an all-encompassing remedy for the stress culture associated with Georgetown’s clubs. But student leaders in the community must accept that inaction simply perpetuates the issue and that real change is imperative. It is time to bring propositions like these to the school administration and pressure them to enact the policies we want to see governing our clubs and the culture they are a part of.
Edward Kalaydjian is a senior in the School of Foreign Service.