Berkeley High School’s seemingly endless list of clubs is a representative microcosm and point of pride for the school. There are a multitude of clubs for every hobby, culture, food item, and niche interest, even branching into single articles of clothing. BHS clubs are unique, to say the least, and provide more than just a free period during the club fair or a laugh on the morning announcements. They provide community — though some more so than others. Some friend groups have registered themselves as BHS clubs, and despite their exclusivity, they should respect the obligations of being a club and welcome new members who wish to join.
The sprawling club list doesn’t reveal what any of the clubs are actually like, just their purpose. There is no way for students to know the dynamics of these clubs when they are surveying their options, and though most claim that they are always welcoming to curious students, it may be implied that some aren’t.
It’s unfortunate that it’s relatively easy to become a club, but so difficult for some to respect the meaning of being an organized group that represents BHS. A group just needs to write out a club constitution, construct a budget, and recruit a faculty member as an advisor. They are then approved by John Villavicencio, the BHS Student Activities Leader, after which they are recognized as an official club, and it becomes their choice to advertise themselves and welcome new members or not.
Some students might be nervous when thinking of joining a new club, regardless of their status as a friend group or open community. One could say that the issue of whether exclusive clubs need to advertise and welcome new members shouldn’t be debated, as it’s likely students wouldn’t want to join a group that is a pre-established friend group. While it is true that most students would feel uncomfortable and unwelcome in a space where they don’t know their place, it is a club’s job to accept new members. If a group is registered as a BHS club, then they have a responsibility to welcome all students.
“When you become a club, you’re taking on the responsibility of accepting new people and creating a community with whoever wants to join,” said Rylyn Jaggar, BHS Chief of Clubs.
It’s not a matter of the existing club wanting new students to join, it’s about the possibility of students wanting to join and deserving a friendly space.
The function of a club is to build community. It is hypocritical for a group to agree to the norms of being a BHS club, which includes a commitment to welcoming new members, and proceed not to do just that. According to Jaggar, “that just goes against the spirit of what a school club is.”