Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Children of the Clubs

It’s that time of year again. Today is Beloit College’s annual Student Activities Fair, where the students cart out their favorite cause and present them to the campus, desperately hoping they join their club.

Walking around, I met the head of the Beloit Fair Labor Action Network, whose entire existence seems to revolve around eliminating so-called sweat shops. The AIDS Task Force main area of expertise is distributing condoms and red ribbons (the former is something the Health Center does; the latter does nothing).

The League of Pissed-Off Voters (along with the Democratic and Green Parties) reminded people to vote. They had a lot of help; the voting registration table was quite busy. The Womyn’s Center (no, that’s not a typo) offered a flyer by the Feminist Majority Foundation listing woman’s issues that are hot this election: reproductive rights, gender rights here and abroad, economic equality, environmental protection and trade policies.

Perhaps Beloit Peace and Justice should tell them that the environment and trade are decidedly not women’s issues. Not exclusively. I guess BP&J is too busy offering “educational and social forums for the discussion and exploration of peace and justice-related issues,” as they say in their flyer. It’s a good thing they’re talking about it. God forbid they actually do something. But even there, they are overwhelmed: “we try to focus on topics and develop programs which will spark discussion and raise awareness for the whole campus community.” “Try to focus?” Reading a book while on a roller coaster is “trying to focus.” Writing a paper while your roommate is having sex is “trying to focus.” They are sitting in a meeting of their own making “trying to focus.” Enough said.

The Fair sported the Pagan Fellowship, the Christian Fellowship, the Spiritual Life Program and the InterFaith Council. Why is it so difficult to combine these? Perhaps their members are too occupied with DDR Club, Funk Club, Breakdancing Club and the Beloit Free-Style Walking Club (not making that up) to think about reorganizing. Talking to members, the main focus of these organizations seems to be “holding meetings” and “raising awareness.” Perhaps I should start a club that raises awareness of efficiency, synergy and scarcity because these are concepts that are obviously escaping the campus at large.

Normally, I wouldn’t care if there was an ironing club or a watch-the-paint-dry club but all student-run organizations (no matter how superfluous) get college funding, funding that comes from the student activities fee that everyone has to pay. And yes, Beloit is a private institution and if it really pissed me off enough, I could just go somewhere else. But to some degree I accept the activities fee and I reserve the right to criticize it. Especially when organizations get so bloated, redundancy and uselessness reach such new heights.


Chris said...

What, David no a likea da clubs? It all sounds very German. You can go to Germany and find clubs for almost anything. Hey, you must have seen the post on my blog a couple of days ago for the European Students Association, it seems as though it has received a much better response online than I initially presumed it would. Now, however, the big test awaits ... trying it out on unsuspecting UCSD activists!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I think it's nice to see the market providing so many options for the consumers.

David said...

Except it's not the market. It's politics. If the student activities fee was waived and people would create clubs based on individual contributions, then that's one thing. If they dip into a pot created by required fees, that's another. For even more confirmation, consider this. Notice that to start a club with funding, you have to get approval from student government. Technically, you don't need funding, but, hey, the money's "free" so why not?