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By: Pooja Sreerangan
The McMaster Students Union boasts having over 350 clubs with an entire section dedicated towards clubs that are meant to raise awareness and funds for a diverse selection of social issues. While this sounds noble on paper, how many of these clubs actually impart meaningful change?
There are many reasons students join or create these types of clubs and unfortunately, altruism is not the top motivator. In our current competitive climate, students are pushed to become “well-rounded” on the basis that well-rounded students are more desirable. Thus, many students strive to not only excel academically but also engage in a broad spectrum of activities that would be looked upon favourably by a potential employer.
While it is important for students to be well-rounded, many lose sight as to why this is important; the skills and experiences one can gain as a result of being involved in a multitude of activities. Instead, it is often the case that students will join as many clubs as they possibly can in order to pad their résumés and CVs. The result is that students appear to be extremely well-rounded when the reality is anything but.
What is worse is that many of these students only contribute the bare minimum to these clubs — that is, if contribute anything at all. As someone involved with the recruitment for various clubs, it is disappointing to witness the overabundance of interest at the beginning of the school year rapidly taper off as time passes. By the end of the term, it is typical to find only a handful of members attending required shifts and meetings compared to the dozens that initially signed up.
I understand that academics take priority but students should be responsible enough to only agree to commitments which they can actually fulfill. Otherwise, it is unethical to state to employers and recruiters that they contributed to clubs in which they did nothing for. In fact, these individuals most likely hindered the club’s progress.
This problem seems to be worsening with time. At McMaster, there has been an apparent rise in “social-front” clubs; that is, clubs that have been created for the sole purpose of CV and résumé padding rather than their stated goals of influencing meaningful change. Every September at the annual Clubsfest, there seems to be more of these social-front clubs that center around the discussion of niche issues. Raising awareness is important but I have serious reservations that these clubs even do that.
MSU Clubs should adopt a “quality over quantity” ideal. There must be some accountability in place for social issue clubs to prove that they are in fact continuously making a positive change or they should be disbanded. Considering that the MSU provides a budget to those clubs that request it, it is important to ensure that student funds are not being given to clubs that do not complete what they’ve promised.
So the next time you decide to join a club or maybe even create a new one, ask yourself, are you actually trying to make a change or are you beefing up your CV?