I remember going to my first club meeting my freshman year. The club head, an eloquent senior, pitched passionately about prospects of the club, and a list of dangling attractions was promised: biweekly meetings, structured debate training, attending more competitions, and great learning opportunities.
As the year progressed, however, most of these promises went unmet—the head failed to hold meetings every other week, was frequently absent for meetings, and the “debate curriculum” was virtually non-existent.
But the reality, as I later found out, is that most clubs at Govs were just like the one I attended: there is no shortage of people who attend clubs for college, club leaders who habitually miss meetings, and clubs that exist only on paper. Though we hate to admit it, this environment that many of us acquiesce to is hindering the opportunities of students, especially those who might benefit from extracurricular activities hosted by clubs.
Granted, attending clubs and hosting meetings is not easy—most clubs only have a 2-hour window to host activities, as meetings must be after dinner but before check-in, and people are constantly swamped with school work and athletic commitments, etc. After all, why would you travel to Frost and attend a 30-minute club meeting rather than chilling in a cozy dorm room, unless you believe you can get something more valuable out of the trip?
Envision what club programs can be and should be for the school. Clubs should be a great opportunity for students to connect with others who share similar passions or interests across different grades. They are great places to learn and improve certain skills, and they give students the independence to learn leadership skills and connect to real-world experiences—club activities fill the vacuum that high school education often cannot provide.
Creating a prosperous club scene at Govs requires skilled club leaders to host meaningful programs and meetings—the prerequisite to attracting participants. But more importantly, it requires the commitment of club heads.
After two years of engaging in club affairs at student council and frankly, being very unsatisfied with the club scene at Govs, I started helping the dean of student activities, Ms. Faith Kagwa, to manage club-related affairs my junior year. After many discussions and conversations with club leaders, we found that a key problem at that time was the accountability of club leaders. We worked out a supervisory mechanism to hold clubs accountable: we made the club registration process more selective, periodically attended club meetings, and had conversations with underperforming club leaders.
The program was partially effective; the frequency of club-organized activities and club participation rates have increased. However, there is no way Ms. Kagwa can monitor every single club meeting—club leaders still need to hold themselves responsible, especially when it’s easy to take an easier path.
In my sophomore year, I asked the former dean of student activities Mrs. Samantha Howson what makes some clubs more successful than others. She answered that it depends on the skill and commitment of club leaders. That is, successful and truly meaningful club activities depend almost completely on the commitment of club leaders. The title of “club head” should come with responsibilities and commitment to all club members, to all who might benefit from club activities, and to the causes club leaders have promised to advance.