Rejection is a slippery slope

Danielle Bisonette

I remember the beginning of freshman year when I was told over and over again “the happiest students are those who get involved.” How to make friends? Get involved. How to find your passion? Get involved. How to love college? Get involved. So that’s what I’ve tried to do, and it’s been more difficult than I ever would’ve imagined. For a University with “community” basically attached to its name, we are very far from inclusive in our extracurricular scene.

When you tour campus as a high school senior, you hear about our hundreds of clubs, our fantastic sports teams and our thriving Greek life, but no one shows you the fine print that getting into a large amount of these groups is harder than getting into Villanova itself. Our clubs are far from inclusive, and most often turn away more people than they accept. Sure, there are some clubs that welcome all students who want to join, but they are the minority. And for a University that places so much emphasis and value on community and getting involved, we sure do make it hard to do so. And I get it, some clubs can’t accept everyone. I mean can you imagine a thousand-person musical or a hundred-member soccer team? It’d be crazy. You obviously can’t have a million members in each group, but there has to be a better way.

What bothers me the most is that a lot of our clubs all have the same members. It blows my mind that one person can be on a club sport team, in Blue Key, Ambassadors, SpO, a Capella and orientation while another person will be turned away from every single one of those groups. And yes, some people just aren’t a good fit for a particular club. Let’s face it, we don’t all have what it takes to be a tour guide or a tennis star, but many of our clubs could accept a few more qualified candidates.

Often, a club’s application process is more rigorous than an actual job’s. Friends at other schools are blown away when I tell them what it takes to be accepted into a club at Villanova. First, there’s an application consisting of your basic information, all your prior club involvements (hmm…a little biased here?) and usually essays— sometimes as many as five. And then, if the club likes you on paper, there’s an interview (or two or three). Here you sit down across from two or three members of the group and try to prove to them that you are worthy to join. Bonus points if you’re loud and “give them something to remember.” All of this for an extracurricular, really? And with these grueling application processes, rejection follows more often than not. They call you in to pick up a letter that usually reads something like “We appreciate your application, but due to the large number of outstanding applicants, we cannot offer you a spot in our organization. We hope that you’ll consider applying next year.” So, they’re basically saying that one, we don’t want you, two, everyone else was better than you, and three, apply again next year so we can reject you again. Is this really the best we can do, Wildcats? Can you imagine how many potentially great members you’ve passed up with your misguided exclusivity?

All I’m saying is that we should give more people a chance. Stop making it so difficult for students to find their place in this community. Allow more people to join and stop turning so many qualified people away. We can do so much better than this. There are so many great members out there just waiting for a chance. So give them one. Let’s truly embrace our favorite word, community, and be more inclusive in our extracurricular scene.