SLChatter: Clubs

We have clubs at Sarah Lawrence. Sort of. I mean, we have clubs. Student Senate divides the budget amongst a good number of groups and collectives. Every year, a few more spring up. See, it’s not that we don’t have the initiative. There are actually a healthy number of student organizations on campus. From publications to unions to musical groups to various forms of government— SLC is relatively well stocked when it comes to clubs.

The problem is, no one joins them.

The lifetime of a club membership goes something like this: As a first-year you and a mass of other first-years descend upon the Clubs Fair like a gaggle of awkward birds, grabbing at the free candy and ultimately signing up for about 10 too many clubs. You will go back to your dorms, with magnets and schedules, but the majority of you will forget to attend any of the initial meetings. Enough time will pass that you feel awkward just joining the club after missing the first few weeks. You’ll try and convince a friend to go with you and share the awkward, but you both will eventually decide against it and spend your Thursdays watching Hulu in your dorm instead.

Rarely have I heard someone say, “Sorry guys, I have a club meeting in ten, catch up with you later.” Or “I’m running for treasurer for my club, wanna help with campaign posters?”
More often I hear, “Isn’t that club meeting in the Pub now…I was supposed to go, but it’s too late now. I’ll just go next time.” Or “I was gonna go, but last week there were only two people and it was super awkward.”

This doesn’t include everybody. I know some clubs actually do things. Model UN goes to meets and last year ORC went on hikes (or at least they emailed me, saying they were.) Burlesque holds shows. TransActions planned Gender Fuck. Clubs do exist, but they’re few and far between. Apart from a handful of heavy hitters, there isn’t a lot of activity on the club front. Sure APOC hosts a dance and SLAC works endlessly to put on events for those of us willing to show up, but…

Few of us actually do. Unfortunately, most of us are too tired from writing for our conferences or watching Glee, or running off to the city to stop and paint faces on South Lawn. Or attend debates in Common Ground. Or bring our knitting to Stitch and Bitch. Deep down most of us actually want to. A surprising number of people RSVP to Facebook events and emails. And yet that number somehow plummets as the actual event approaches.

The pinnacle of our involvement is when we stumble up to the table, marked “Bake Sale” outside the Pub, and awkwardly ask a wearily looking club president, “Do you take Meal Money?” At Sarah Lawrence, that’s just about all we muster for clubs.

The truth is, we have clubs only because we have rooms reserved for students at a given time on weekly basis. Clubs are email lists, boasting events you’re not sure even happened. Clubs are that one annual event that is so steeped in tradition no one can even explain what is it. Clubs are the poster that everyone sees but few people stop to read. Clubs are the things no one goes to, but everyone means to.

It just wasn’t meant to be. We enrolled at a school with little to no club presence. We don’t go here for the outstanding Culinary Club or renowned Debate Team. We came here because we want a Sarah Lawrence education. By the time we graduate, conference week will be the only club we’ll have joined, but that’s fine. We’ll all graduate the same as any college student, no worse for wear.

Years from now I imagine running into some SLCer on the subway (and let’s face it, we’ll most likely ignore each other). I might think to myself, “That’s the blonde girl who I sat next to in lit class.” or “Isn’t that the boy with the weird hat from lecture?” or “I think I lived down the hall from that guy sophomore year.” Years from now, I might pass any of these people on the street, but the one person I will never see is the kid I was in a club with.

Image Credit: sarahlawrencegirls

Zoe Marquedant doesn't talk about Fight Club. She is an SLC writing student with a dinosaur watch and an over-developed sense of state pride. She can be found around campus perpetuating awkward moments and swearing like a sailor. Zoe firmly believes life is what happens in-between good cups of coffee.

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