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Wednesday, April 17, 2024 — Houston, TX

Club registration must verify sustainability

10/6/15 9:33pm

Rice has too many clubs, apparently. This semester alone, Rice approved 49 new clubs, bringing the grand total to 316 (see p. 1). The more troubling matter is that, if past trends hold true, nearly half of those clubs won’t renew. Clearly, the ratifi cation process for clubs does not thoroughly verify whether they’re serving an unmet and persistent need in a sustainable manner.

Clubs play an important role in student life, but they cease to be useful when their functions overlap and they don’t contribute to the Rice community. Rice does not necessarily need 20 mentoring clubs, as Olivia Barker, associate director of student activities, points out.

But it’s not an easy fix; there are several factors to consider like club size, whether a club is a chapter of a larger organization and a club’s target demographic. However, certain clubs should consider consolidation as a method to pool resources and leadership to strengthen their impact.

Comparisons with peer institutions may not be an accurate measure for whether Rice has too many student organizations. Clubs exist to serve the interests and needs of students, and these vary widely with each school. At Rice, the residential colleges provide an alternative platform for students to gather and pursue interests, and Rice prides itself on student leadership, resulting in organizations that fulfill needs otherwise met by staff at other universities. Instead of looking to our peers, we should turn inward and examine whether Rice students are adversely affected by this supposed oversaturation of clubs.

The current process of examining a club has two metrics: novelty and contribution to the community. Although reasonable, these criteria don’t take sustainability into consideration, which explains why half of these clubs disappear after a year, every year. A system of goals and reflection must be institutionalized, for both old and new organizations. Club leadership must delineate tangible goals each year; these goals need not be quantitatively measurable, but should serve as a check for whether a club is necessary and fulfilling its mission. This serves as an opportunity for refl ection and growth for club leadership, as well as evidence of club efficacy to student activities in the renewal process.

However, if at the end of the year approved clubs are not accomplishing their goals, they should still be forced to confront their failures. Clubs should be required to complete end-of-year reports on their yearly activities and goals, and those that fail to justify their existence should have to meet with Student Activities to discuss their possible elimination.

We do not mean to minimize the important differences and innovations that spur the creation of new clubs. However, student organizations must be held to higher standards to maintain their integrity.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of the Thresher editorial status.

All other opinion pieces represent solely the opinion of the piece’s author.

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