From our perspective, there should be more stringent regulations and requirements for setting up and running a club. Currently, at Belmont Hill, the creation of a club is as simple as a few emails. Approval from the head of the upper school, a faculty advisor, some members, and an idea are the only requirements for any new club. If a club requires funding, slightly more rigorous vetting is warranted. The main advantages of this approval process are extreme freedom of expression and activity for Belmont Hill students. On a whim, students can assemble around any idea, from Math (this one is really a sport, but we’re still including it) to Improv to Spanish.
While new clubs at Belmont Hill provide unique and valuable opportunities for our students, two primary problems highlight our flawed club system: the over-creation of clubs and the lack of attention to currently existing groups. Creating too many clubs dilutes the club pool. For every future high-commitment, quality-output club like the Panel, the nonexistent approval process pumps out several more unmotivated, unorganized groups, so-called “college app clubs” created or joined by students who are solely attempting to improve the activities section of their college application. Therefore, they turn to joining inactive clubs where their attendance is not required, or even to creating a club to order to prove their “ability” to take on a role of leadership and organization, neither of which is accurate in this case. Ultimately, “college app clubs” and others like them poorly represent Belmont Hill and its other extracurriculars and draw away potential members from more impactful clubs on campus. The second problem, a lack of attention and maintenance of existing clubs, poses issues of commitment and production. When established clubs fail to meet, an atmosphere of inactivity is created. A club’s membership becomes inconsistent, the leader(s) of the club fails to create enthusiasm among its members, and the club is unable to do good and meaningful work. In turn, these clubs degrade and soon begin to lack significance. Clubs become occasional emails and five-minute X block meetings, where not much is done. Notable clubs, including the Sextant, the oldest publication at Belmont Hill, have fallen prey to lack of enthusiasm and poor maintenance, essentially leading to their demise.
We believe that there are two simple measures which can vastly improve the club process at Belmont Hill: approval and annual renewal by the Student Senate and a new classification system for extracurriculars. To create a club, Belmont Hill students should be required to present a plan to the Student Senate on what their club will do, how it will be unique, whether they need funding or special equipment, and how they will ensure that it lasts. The Senate would then vote on whether the club could be created. This basic club approval process would prevent the creation of “college app clubs” and overlapping clubs, another problem with Belmont Hill clubs, as well as ensuring their longevity. If a club failed to be approved, it can still become an “activity,” which would be ineligible for funding or special equipment and would merit less prestige. Combined with a similar annual renewal process, an approval process for Belmont Hill clubs would establish a pool filled with diverse, long-lived, quality groups. These changes to the Belmont Hill club system would usher in an era of extracurriculars more rooted in the Belmont Hill pillars of zeal, dedication, and foresight.