Student Organizations & Activities aims to learn more about student groups’ application processes


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Student Organizations and Activities works out of at Source at Northwestern. SOA is talking to student groups about their application processes after hearing student accounts about the challenges of getting involved at NU.

Baylor Spears, Reporter

Student Organizations and Activities is leading an effort to learn more about the application and interview processes student groups use to accept new members.

Joe Lattal, the assistant director for SOA, said this initiative started after hearing accounts from students about how clubs and groups can be a fulfilling experience, but getting involved itself can sometimes be a difficult experience.

“We often get accounts from students that talk about how they applied to a whole lot of different organizations, didn’t get into any of them, or they were surprised to learn how competitive or challenging it was to get involved with a student organization,” Lattal said.

SOA is inviting representatives from a range of student groups across campus to engage in conversations about how they got involved and how students would get involved today.

Lattal said SOA wants to get the word out to as many student groups as possible, but they’ve only spoken to a couple of student groups. He said while it’s too early to summarize everything, both the reasons for why student groups require applications and the application process itself varies.

“Some groups replicate what they see in the professional or business world,” Lattal said. “I think some groups have shared that they feel a need to have some sort of step or some sort of requirement, otherwise, there’s a concern that students won’t take them seriously or won’t contribute.”

SOA is coordinating with Ayelet Chavel, ASG’s chair of student activities and resources, to reach out to individual students. She added that some clubs have applications to increase the status of their groups to make them competitive and impressive on resumes.

Chavel said this can not only contribute to a culture of exclusivity at Northwestern, but barriers to entry can also create stress for students who want to be a part of a specific student group.

“It adds a lot of stress to students to not be able to be a part of student groups, especially when a student group could be something that that person has been doing since they were a child and wants to continue doing as a hobby or has a very strong interest in,” Chavel said.

Helicon, a literary and arts magazine at NU, is one example of a student organization with an application process. To join, students have to fill out an application and interview with some current members.

Alyssa Peterson, a Weinberg junior, joined Helicon last year and is currently an editor for the publication. She said Helicon typically accepts most students who apply, but the publication does have a certain cap on the number of members

“You need to have a specific skill set to do the work that we’re doing — critical reading skills and preferably a background in poetry or art or fiction writing,” Peterson said.

She said some examples of questions asked on the application include talking about a piece of literature or art that has inspired the applicant, what sets the applicant apart and listing other significant time commitments.

Lattal said SOA, tentatively, will talk with students to gather information throughout Winter Quarter. He also said it’s unclear at the moment what they will do with their findings.

“At the very least, we want to share the information back with the broader community,” Lattal said, “At the very least, we want to be better at being able to connect students to opportunities available to them.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @baylorspears_

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