In response to the community service requirement implemented by administration, many new and returning clubs have begun to identify themselves as “casual clubs.” The name seems almost redundant to many students, as clubs are a choice, rather than an obligation.
“I think it’s absurd that clubs which are just gatherings of friends and require no outside funding from the school have to participate in community service,” sophomore Jonathan Massachi said.
Massachi is the president of a club called the Model United Nations (UN) Club, in which members discuss politics and goings-on in the UN. This club is one of many taking a more casual approach to the idea of clubs, comprised of people who share a similar interest. However, this new take clashes with the underlying purpose clubs are supposed to serve at Samo.
“If you look at the club charter, the number one goal of each club is to promote school service, loyalty and [exemplify] the high standards of citizenship,” Samo Activities Director Veronica Garcia-Hecht said.
However, Massachi thinks that the current club system is not necessarily applicable to his club.
“Service is very useful to help the community improve, but not every club should be required to do community service to retain their status,” Massachi said.
Sophomore Caren Nader, member of both Model UN and Chess Club, agrees with Massachi’s point.
“Our club isn’t centered around doing community service — it’s about debating ideas that have been discussed in the UN. So if the UN were to hold community service, we would go and help them out, but there’s no community service right now that offers us that ability.”
Garcia-Hecht believes that this is not necessarily true.
“I think we need to define community service,” Garcia-Hecht said. “[Model UN] could have an informational booth about the different jobs on politics at lunch out in front of Barnum Hall. We are challenging students to think outside the box.”
According to Garcia-Hecht, thinking outside the box is the over-arching purpose of clubs and student-run organizations. Clubs give students the opportunity to express their creativity and volunteer work is just a way for the school to make sure they are adding positively to the Samo community.
Garcia-Hecht views the community service requirement not only as a chance to help out around Samo and the community as a whole, but also as a way to encourage students to be creative in the way that they complete the requirement.
Though casual clubs such as Model UN and Chess Club might see this as a restriction, Garcia-Hecht believes that the community service will help them raise awareness about something they are passionate about. Several clubs such as Invisible Children and Samo Solar Alliance (SSA) have embraced the requirement, organizing school assemblies and district-wide events.
As more and more casual clubs form at Samo, it is the hope of administration that students will see the community service not as a restriction, but as an invitation to be creative. Garica-Hecht hopes that more students will be encouraged to create their own clubs — even if all they entail is a group of friends spending lunch together doing something they enjoy.