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Eva Timoney / Gavel Media

The Problem of Exclusivity at BC

“Unfortunately, we won't be able to offer you a spot in CAB. Please know that this decision was an extremely difficult one to make. We had an abundance of applicants and we sadly can’t take everyone.” While you may have been lucky enough to not have received this specific email, messages like this are all too familiar for much of BC’s community. 

From the first time I ever toured Boston College, I’ve heard students and faculty alike describe the ease with which BC students can become involved on and off-campus. On every tour and every panel, students clubs seemed exhaustive. So why, as a freshman, is it so difficult to join clubs that we are interested in?

Some of the most competitive application processes are for clubs in the fine/performing arts, such as the various a cappella, theater, and comedy groups on campus. For these clubs, it makes sense that not just anyone can join, since the groups hold themselves to a high standard that not everyone can meet. However, the disparity between the number of auditions or applications received from qualified people and the number of people eventually accepted to these groups is staggering. One of the a cappella groups on campus, The Acoustics, saw over 70 auditions and only took roughly five people—and this was a slower year for auditions!

While I understand why these types of clubs can’t take everyone who applies, it was shocking to find out how few clubs on campus actually do. Out of all the comedy groups, only one has open improv practices and shows—the Committee for Creative Enactments (CCE). This does not appear to adversely affect the group’s performances in any way. Rather, the attitude of inclusivity, both within the club and the audience, seems to create a stronger feeling of connection among everyone present. And, of course, CCE’s first performance was also wildly funny—to me, this proves that having ultra-competitive clubs doesn’t always make a difference in the quality of the group.

It’s one thing for clubs based on talents and skills to be competitive—that is why the fine arts clubs on campus can put on such excellent performances—but clubs of every type are similarly exclusive. Even among the clubs based around community service, an area that I would imagine nearly every BC student has at least some experience, rejections run rampant. While part of this is simply the result of a lack of spots, it remains a significant issue that there are not opportunities for everyone to be involved in something that they are passionate about.

Over the past month, I have seen just about everyone I know, including myself, experience the sting of rejection from clubs that they were incredibly excited to participate in. The problem isn’t just that these clubs are exclusive; it’s also the fact that very few clubs without extensive and selective application processes in competitive areas, such as the performing arts, even exist!

It is my hope that, as time goes on, more clubs will open their doors—or, alternatively, more clubs will be founded that promote this inclusivity and truly allow BC students to be enthusiastically involved. In a school that prides itself on club involvement, exclusivity severely hurts the college experience of many BC students.

As you read this, I'm probably eating popcorn, napping, or playing Mario Kart. Or some combination of the three.