Yes: Luke Trevisan
Every year in early September, students fresh off of summer break enter into the school looking for a new start and ways that they can make an impact. One popular idea is to test out and try clubs. They can be a way to make new friends, learn more about a different topic or just a place to relax and have fun. However, this spike in club popularity typically only lasts for a few months. Once classes start picking up, schedules become busier and extracurriculars get put on the back burner.
After Thanksgiving break, as midterms loom on the horizon, many students will hold off on club visitations until their schedule frees up. But, in reality, it never does. Following midterms, Belmont Hill boys take up to sixteen days off for winter break only to arrive back with two weeks of the first semester still remaining for them to complete. From there, club participation into the rest of the year drops off significantly, as boys become burnt out, overworked, and too occupied to worry about the fun aspirations for club engagement that they had at the beginning of the year.
Given this, it would be better to limit the number of clubs formed. This would ensure that available clubs receive much more focused attention and attendance, as niche-interest clubs would no longer pull students away from larger foundational clubs, like publications, language clubs, and personal development clubs. If students are also limited in the number of clubs that they can engage in, then they will be able to put more of their time and effort into those clubs. In turn, the clubs would be able to create more thoughtful work, develop deeper understandings of the material, and have more in-depth conversations, as students would no longer be distracted by their overfilled schedules.
Additionally, outside of boosting club participation and improving club standards, students would be able to complete more work. With fewer clubs taking up X-block, 2:15 and 4:00 periods, students can utilize their time in more efficient and productive ways, such as spending more of their time getting homework done, seeing teachers for extra help or participating in arts and music groups.
One might argue that the restriction on clubs would be a hindrance to the creative aspect that comes with creating clubs spontaneously. However, a rotation could be put in place to cycle out old clubs that have seen low attendance with rising clubs that show a lot of interest. Similar to the premier league in the UK, the waning clubs would be “relegated” in favor of more popular ones, ensuring constant, engaged participation. If the clubs were limited to a certain number of high-functioning organizations, then both students and clubs alike would see massive benefits in their performance at school.
No- Lev Tolkoff
One of the most unique aspects of Belmont Hill is its club culture. Students come together with primarily little teacher support to create something that does not exist at other schools. A large part of this stems from the flexibility and free nature of clubs, ranging from Lego Club to Drone Club to French club: there is a place for everyone to excel. Some of the best clubs have started simply from two students wondering why Belmont Hill doesn’t have a club about X, Y, or Z and then taking the initiative to start the club. But, if there were to be a club cap, it would limit this creativity.
While there are many clubs that seem to drift off as the year progresses, that is just the nature of school. At the beginning of the year most people want to do things differently this year and sign up for a few clubs, only to get slammed with homework and stop after a few meetings. While some may think of that as a negative, it is actually a positive. If certain new clubs fail in the first few months, then they will dissolve, but if a new club gains popularity then it will continue to meet and create a great environment for trying new things. This sharpens the blade of the quality of clubs. Like survival of the fittest, only the most engaging and well run clubs remain. And if there were to be a club cap this would limit the amount of new clubs that could potentially become well-liked and beneficial to the community.
As well, because of the large quantity of clubs, some students either over-book themselves or forget because of the amount of emails sent out. However, if a club is truly engaging and is an actual interest of the student, not just for a college application, then they will make the time to attend and participate in the club. So, if someone makes the argument that a club cap is necessary to achieve better attendance, then perhaps they just run boring clubs.
Finally, it is imperative that students feel they have the necessary creative space to develop and grow their interests and skills, and clubs allow students to do that in an environment that supports them. Some,like the VC club, would never have existed and hosted a speaker series from professors and actual venture capitalists. Co-head Brian Lee ‘24 remarks, that:“bolstered our club’s experience and let students have experiences no one else in the country could have,”. It is not only important not to cap the amount of clubs, but also to encourage students to take risks and find their passions and to explore them further.