Other schools need Greek life to keep campus social life alive and fun at their universities, but at Boston College, all that’s needed to keep spirits high is student organizations. Being part of one of the many amazing student organizations at BC is one of the best ways to make new friends on campus, and may even get you invited to a few parties. While I love this aspect of the Heights, I’ve found that a few key issues prevent our wonderful student organizations from being the best they can be.
The value of student organizations is a key tenet of BC social life. To me, the clubs on the Heights give this school an edge over peer universities. In fact, hearing about BC’s extracurriculars was a genuine tipping point that helped convince me to become an Eagle in the first place. At the start of freshman year, though, maneuvering the many clubs of BC is an unnecessarily stressful task, and it could be made significantly easier with a couple of fixes.
First, the annual student involvement fair has the potential to make or break an entire college experience. Getting recruited to the right club as a freshman can change your social and academic life here. The chaos at the fair, however, can prevent this life-changing experience from happening for many students.
When I went to the fair, I was conflicted. A part of me loves the loud calls for “anyone interested in swing dancing?” and the aggressive flyer distribution of the theatre program. Still, finding individual clubs in the crowded Plex (and not getting overwhelmed in the process) was very difficult. It took me 40 minutes of wandering the intensely loud and enthusiastic gymnasium to find the organizations I was interested in joining. Even then, I was missing one key organization. (Ironically, it was The Heights). While I already knew someone on The Heights, not everyone would have that stroke of luck—even worse, some people who felt too overwhelmed at the student involvement fair might not have signed up for anything.
The fair is never going to be for everyone, but it could improve if the Office of Student Involvement (OSI) broadly distributed maps that showed where each club’s stand was located. That way, the scramble around each table would be much less chaotic and intimidating for club-seeking freshmen. For those students uncomfortable with the fair as it stands, there are currently no clear solutions or alternatives, and this process is made all the more stressful knowing how hard it can be to join any clubs after your first year.
While the student involvement fair is not for everyone, a clear supplement to the system should exist online. The architecture for this virtual hub exists, both on BC’s website and on the MyBC organizations. The involvement fair was done entirely online last year. While this version of a fair lacks the physical connection that an in-person fair provides, it did show that virtual club recruitment is far from impossible. Unfortunately, both the main BC website and the MyBC page are flawed in their own ways and would require some repair before they can be more approachable and effective in giving BC newcomers a better chance to join clubs.
The public website for student organizations on campus contains little unique information about individual clubs, aside from a few features of ever-present campus organizations that need no introduction (UGBC, CAB, etc). While there is a list on the site of all official clubs on campus, there is no method on the website to contact the leadership of these clubs, and dead links are scattered across the site.
While the main BC website doesn’t even try to offer much information, the MyBC page offers false hope. As an experiment, I looked up five organizations I knew of and tested if they filled three possible requirements: if they had their own MyBC page, if they had any events listed on said page, and if they provided a current BC student as an assigned leader for the organization. Of these five—Model UN, Debate Union, Spikeball, RGBC, and BC Blockchain—only one fulfilled all three standards. One of them didn’t even have a page, and another listed a student leader that graduated two years ago. What’s worse is that none of these organizations had a direct email address, GroupMe link, or Google Form posted on the page. While many BC organizations have social media pages to compensate for this, this requires students to stay active on a variety of apps that aren’t connected to the school in any way.
Regardless, it is ultimately up to OSI to provide consistent ways to connect freshmen and transfer students with the many great clubs at BC. Without a proper club interface on the main BC website or on MyBC, students who were uncomfortable or simply unlucky with their experience at the student involvement fair could miss out on years of memories in the many great clubs on campus.
With just a few tweaks, the club system at BC could turn from one of BC’s better social perks to its best one—no Greek life necessary.
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan/ Heights Editor