Chris Riley, vice president of Student Life, said he hopes changes to the pledging process ultimately encourage more participation across the student body.
“We want to try to provide opportunities for as much participation as we can in clubs,” he said. “We want to think of ways for clubs to be more successful for the types of students that we have.”
Last year, about 40 percent more women and about 17 percent more men pledged compared to the 2012-2013 school year. This year, we’ve seen an additional 4 percent more women register to pledge.
But if the number of students wanting to pledge is growing in size, and Student Life is claiming to want more participation, how can we increase participation with a limited number of clubs and pledge class sizes? Even though more students want to pledge, there is only going to be a larger number of students, specifically women, who will be cut or dropped after not receiving a bid.
Mark Jackson, associate director of student organizations and programs, said he thinks the day is coming when we will need one or two more.
“What we don’t want to do is add just to add,” he said. “In 2000, we had 17 clubs on campus, that was good but it was a lot of small clubs.”
However, we don’t think adding more clubs on campus would be “just to add.” It would be added because there is a need. It’s not just the numbers that are saying we need more clubs. It’s the changes to the pledging process.
Student Life could allow more bids to be given for each pledge class, but with changes to the pledging process such as a shortened period of three weeks, it becomes more challenging to get to know larger groups of people in a shorter amount of time. It’s much easier for a large pledge class of 70 to 80 women to bond over the previously allowed six-week period than the new three-week period.
Jackson said he would be open to adding more clubs.
“I would like to get to six women clubs and six guy clubs just to have an even number,” he said. “I’m not going to force it to happen but if a group of students came to us, we would definitely listen to it and see what’s possible.”
As of right now, it’s been three years since a new club has been added. And we’ve seen substantial growth in that time frame. Additionally, Student Life currently requires a group of students to be meeting for over a year before they can become an official club and added to the pledging process.
If Student Life is going to make changes to the pledging rules and is serious about increasing participation, they must encourage and allow the chartering or rechartering of clubs to be an easier process.
If more clubs means smaller clubs, that’s a sacrifice that comes along with the pledging changes, but at least more students are able to participate.