Firing Squad: Open up NU student groups


Meredith Goodman, Columnist

While editing my column last night, my editor and I started ranting about the insane number of tryouts required to join student organizations at Northwestern. It seemed that every club I wanted to join freshman year required an application, which I spent a good amount of time filling out, only to be rejected.

I recognize that many student organizations, such as theater productions, campus tours, musical ensembles and a cappella groups, require a tryout or audition of some sort. Any student leadership position should of course have an application and interview process.

But the majority of student organizations at Northwestern are designed to teach students new skills and give them the experience they need before they head off into the “real world.” For these types of organizations, why would previous experience in these areas be required if the goal of the organization is to teach me?

During my Fall and Winter Quarter of freshman year, I applied to three different undergraduate business organizations and was rejected from all three (a great humbling experience for my freshman ego). One organization didn’t even call me back for an interview, apparently deciding that my resume did not warrant getting to know me better.

Chances are, if you got into Northwestern, you have a great work ethic and are capable of learning any skill if you focus and put your mind to it. I know that even though I did not possess the business experience needed for those organizations, I was capable of being taught and being a valuable asset to them.

Furthermore, I was being evaluated as a freshman on my previous experiences through my resume. The point of a student organization is to give me those opportunities and experiences so that I can apply them to a job or internship. This never-ending cycle leaves many students without the experiences they need for “the real world.”

I was in Northwestern University Marching Band my freshman year, which did not require an audition, unlike many competitive college marching bands. There were many people in NUMB who had never marched in high school before, but through practice and dedication they became some of the most accomplished band members. By being inclusive of all people that wanted to learn marching, NUMB had a robust number of members who truly enjoyed participating.

I would encourage campus organizations to accept as many members as possible, whether they have experience or not, in order to give all Northwestern students the opportunities they have earned and deserve.

—Meredith Goodman