Burke overhauls clubs program

Beginning this year, the Burke administration has decided to make scheduling and requirement changes to the operations of morning activities, especially clubs.

Historically, each day’s color had always determined what happened between second and third periods at 10:05. But under the new rules, each grade has a unique schedule based on the days of the week, with a common slot for clubs on Fridays. The school hopes this will give clubs more of what the administration believes to be much-needed meeting time. Students will also be required to be present in a club every Friday, a dramatic shift from the green day periods that many students saw as optional.

Director of Student Activities Kelly Falk and Dean of Students Vanessa Aird said that they decided to go through with the change as part of an ongoing effort to address a common student complaint: not enough time for meetings.

“I think it was also in response to student needs and student feedback in wanting more time,” Aird said. “It was not possible to lengthen the clubs period so by meeting more consistently we were answering the request of students to have more time in clubs.”

By meeting every Friday, clubs will be able to spend more time together compared to green days, which happened only once every seven school days.

Along with the changes to the schedule, attendance in clubs will now be mandatory. This goes both for the required meeting on Fridays as well as any clubs meeting at other times. Falk and Aird said that this change is in response to complaints that clubs didn’t have enough consistent members to be able to prioritize fulfilling the club’s purpose over recruitment.

“Before we started requiring attendance, a lot of clubs spent a lot of time attempting to gain membership rather than doing the work of the club,” said Falk. “So we’re hoping that that will improve.”

This particular change has hit some clubs harder than others. Ben McLenaghan ’20 and Sanjay Seejattan-Forester ‘20’s Knowledge Competition (formerly Trivia Club) has had to rework its structure entirely, going from accepting people drifting in and out to having a limited membership.

“I was told that the administration didn’t want trivia in the clubs period because it ‘draws people away from other clubs’. That made me mad because to me that said ‘you shouldn’t make your club an attractive option for people to go to,’” McLenaghan explained over email. “[Vanessa told me] the club could be allowed in clubs period if it had a member cap.”

He also added that he felt the new policy was overly restrictive and kept students from taking part in clubs that excite them.

“The policy is ridiculous in my opinion because it forces people to go to clubs during clubs period they may not be interested in,” McLenaghan said.

Lamenting the process of being kicked out then struggling to get back into the clubs pool before Club Expo, McLenaghan cited “the lack of communication [that] has really been the root of all of these problems.”

Falk and Aird said they understood that some students would inevitably react aversely to change. They felt, however, that it was still necessary to meet the long-term needs of the community.

“Change is hard in any community but it’s constant and the idea that we’re changing for a reason is important for folks to remember,” said Falk. She added that newer students would be in a position to better benefit from the new setup while more senior students may be frustrated at the unfamiliar state of things.

Aird continued by saying that the policy is still in development and subject to students’ feedback.

“It is a pilot. It’s our first time doing [clubs] this way so we’ll see how it goes and we’ll get feedback and we’ll take that feedback to heart and adhere to it and see what next year looks like. So to me, it’s very much a work in progress.”