Editorial: Club culture has blossomed, can still grow

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As seen in the May 2 print edition

The 2013-2014 school year was marked by extensive club action, with every week since Club Day featuring at least one club activity. Many of the 67 approved clubs on campus contributed to this impressive output of events, fundraisers and general spirit, even as some groups remained idle for the majority (and, in some cases, entirety) of the year.

Rising clubs involved the student body in debut events. Radio Airlift’s Battle of the Bands, Video Game Club’s Smash Bros Tournament and the DECA Dance all made their first appearances this year, infusing Beverly’s culture with brand new ideas and opportunities.

Others, such as Art Reach, Model UN and Christian Club sought out students who weren’t members of their clubs and involved these Normans in their own events, which improved turn-outs and general excitement, perhaps even boosting membership in the clubs themselves.

Clubs helped to bridge the gap between the student body and the community, with groups like Interact upping Norman attendance at Beverly Hills civic events. Students, often focused on APs and extracurriculars, were able to step out of their daily routines and experience their city, thanks in part to this handful of Norman-run groups.

They kept the school busy, staving off boredom throughout the course of the year. The constant pushing of clubs to show up at and participate in events encouraged spirit and even school unity. Students from all walks of Beverly life were able to come together as one student body at these club events.

Most significantly, clubs enriched the extracurricular lives of every student on campus by acting as outlets for a wide variety of interests. The atmosphere of activity and enthusiasm persistent in Beverly’s club culture is crucial to keeping Beverly from becoming just another high school.Cartoon by Sasha Park

On the flip side, Beverly’s clubs can be problematic. Many clubs fail in their trajectories, with some losing support or focus, others dying quietly before the year’s end and, even more, not seeming to make much of an impact at all.

Some clubs, due to a lack of funding, were not able to host their desired events, but continued to rally members in a limited capacity. Meanwhile, other student organizations dissolved without much ceremony midway through the year. Perhaps due to a lack of continuing purpose or inability to maintain adequate membership numbers, clubs fell off the grid far before the school year ended.

Unfortunately, some clubs remained under the radar, not yet venturing to gain a larger awareness among students. We hope that those clubs will strive to make a reputation in Beverly’s friendly cultural climate. Although they may have members, blossoming groups should try exploring their goals, be they philanthropic, activist or recreational.

There is the potential that many newly-conceived clubs enter into niches already held by established clubs such as Interact and Model UN, which respectively dominate philanthropy and debate at Beverly. When one club is highly organized and has connections to significant people or groups, it’s hard for it to lose potential members to a fledgling club.

With major clubs dominating certain extracurricular interests, it is more important that new club founders explore interests not currently considered on campus. Yes, those clubs are at risk of not finding much membership either, but a tightly-knit group of similarly-minded students is often enough to keep a niche club alive.

However, watching the life cycles of student groups inspires the question of whether or not club failures are a problem at all. In the actual world of organizations, membership-based groups must abide by a Darwinian environment, where the public chooses which groups should survive by joining them. In that same entrepreneurial spirit, a school club’s failure could be a result of failed marketing, poor leadership, a lacking premise, or some other flaw. Why discourage the survival of the fittest?

The answer is that high school is not necessarily the real world. If a club does not fail to earn members, any other detriments should not damage the experiences of club members. The faulty leadership of a fascinating club should not result in a group of students missing out because that club’s leaders could not be bothered to schedule a new meeting. Essentially, clubs should still be provided with an incubating environment, because high school is a place to branch out socially and intellectually.

With all of this in mind, a solid system should be in place to ensure that clubs are consistently active. ASB’s current system of moderating clubs consists of an initial approval process along with a $50 payment, followed by regular submissions of each club’s minutes. However, once a club is conceptually approved, ensuring that it sticks around in practice is problematic, as the current system of club leaders submitting meeting agendas to ASB does not require any proof of those meetings actually taking place.

Instead, ASB could help to nurture clubs by enforcing meeting inspections. A handful of ASB members could check in on all scheduled club meetings at random times during lunch. As it is probably impractical to sit in on the entirety of each club’s meeting, and that can risk voiding the trust between school groups and ASB, random, quick visits would allow for a casual but consistent relationship between the two groups.

Although it is not ASB’s responsibility to ensure the health of clubs, maintaining a consistent inspection policy could ensure that all of Beverly’s clubs are the real deal. That, in conjunction with Beverly’s encouraging past year, can inspire an even more prominent club culture in the years to come.

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