By: Sarun Balaranjan & Henry Challen, Contributors
How often do you see this occur? A student is woefully looking at their empty resume and wondering how to fix it. Suddenly, the idea strikes them. A moment of unrivaled inspiration. Surely if they’re a founder of a new club, they will get into your dream medical school, right? With their newfound hope, they innovate and design for a total of three minutes before coming up with an absolute masterpiece. They propose the society for either some developing nation, an advocacy group for an organ or an awareness group for an obscure disease. The McMaster Students Union gives you a budget, complete diplomatic immunity and ratifies you with one swift flick of a pen. Life is swell. However, for some reason that truly escapes you, you have continued to have limited success with your medical school applications.
In theory, a club should be beneficial to the student experience at McMaster University. An MSU club may put their efforts towards meaningfully impacting an issue of their choice. Or, a club may also strive to create safe spaces for the plethora of communities we have on this campus. Hypothetically, these clubs should also be hosting regular events or having regular meetings where meeting minutes are being uploaded to their social media pages. However, this is often not the case. Speaking of social media pages, clubs should probably have a social media page or some other point of contact beyond a gmail account that might have belonged to someone who has already graduated. A club should probably not exist solely to have a table at Clubsfest and then disappear to the back of someone’s resume.
In light of the recent opt-out campaign due to the Student Choice Initiative, this issue has come under serious scrutiny amongst the university’s population. Why should our hard-earned savings be used to pump up a med school hopeful’s resume? The funds that are currently being allocated to clubs that contribute extremely little to the McMaster community need to be scrutinized and tracked.
The most logical course of action for the MSU to take would be to start some sort of club accountability service. We envision a group whose sole purpose would be to audit the clubs not just financially, but with respect to the engagement they provide to the McMaster community. The potential money saved in the long-term from a committee like this will go a long way in providing relief for the clubs that do put in a legitimate effort to enrich the atmosphere of this campus.
So many of the essential services on this campus – alongside services that truly benefit the lives of students – are under serious pressure. Some long-standing services at this university are scrambling with the reality that they will have to potentially operate at half the budget that they used to have. Some students are assuming that these services will have to operate at even less than that.
The recuperated cost from halting the operations of some of the 300+ clubs, especially those that are inactive, would reduce the burden on many of these long-standing groups on campus. The financial gain from deratifying some of these clubs will go a long way in cushioning the blow of the SCI.
In addition, students can’t engage with the huge variety of clubs that meet once a semester and call it a day. How much can a group realistically contribute to the community on campus when they exist without any meaningful programming? The larger, long-standing groups have repeatedly shown their commitment to fostering a sense of community on this campus and provide the opportunity for students to blossom in a variety of ways. In contrast, resume padding societies and associations sound like a good idea at the time of ratification, but they quickly fall off the map during the school year. A club accountability service would be able to survey and publish the extent to which different groups actually provide to student life. This service could simultaneously promote the groups that offer meaningful programming, as well as provide a reasonable basis for de-ratifying inactive clubs.
So, McMaster, please take a moment to consider how meaningful your contribution to a particular club or group on campus will be when you’re choosing how to allocate your money.