by Emma Fitzhugh | news editor
President. Vice President. Secretary. Treasurer. Historian. It seems like most people have probably heard at least some variation of these titles before- whether it’s anxiously awaiting the results of an election or fulfilling the requirements associated with the position yourself, titles are given to people who are supposed to embody the qualities of a respectable leader, such as honesty and integrity. However, in some student-led clubs and organizations, there seems to be a definite distinction between one’s status in an organization versus one’s level of commitment.
“I just don’t think it’s [responsibilities] spread evenly. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I think it’s kind of expected that the President does more than everybody else, because the President’s the leader. They have to be willing to do that extra step,” sophomore Ashley Ricciardelli said.
For the majority of organizations that currently exist, there are typically about five officer, or leadership, positions available to students, however, in Ricciardelli’s case, some of the Spanish club officers ended up not following through with their responsibilities after becoming officers.
“Yeah, I definitely think it’s a problem. It depends on the person a lot of the time. Like treasurers especially because students aren’t really allowed to handle money themselves, so they don’t really do anything. That’s not all though,” Ricciardelli said. “But the majority I feel like that’s kind of like the lowest, and that somebody who has to write down everything we do, that’s like a lot harder than just kind of showing up.”
In fact, it was for this very reason that Ricciardelli actually became an officer in the Spanish club just recently; having proven her dedication to the club throughout the year.
“I am, well what happened was the person who was originally in this position couldn’t do it, so I filled in. I don’t remember what it’s called- I think Secretary. I take care of, and report, everything,” Ricciardelli said.
Despite this, Ricciardelli went on to say how she was previously denied the opportunity to become an officer, although it very well may have had nothing to do with her level of commitment to the organization.
“Well the first time [elections], because I am not a popular person, nobody voted for me, and the person who got elected ended up not doing anything. So because I had helped out with the Spanish club before, and they knew that I would do stuff, they put me as officer and replaced me with her [previous Secretary],” Ricciardelli said.
Not only did it seem as though she was the least “popular” candidate, but it appears as though the students who eventually became officers simply had to out-vote their fellow students rather than explain why they wanted the position in the first place.
“I am totally against elections basically because it’s a popularity contest. I think if the officers and stuff were picked from maybe like essays or speeches or something like that, then I think it would be a lot fairer, and it would be less of this,” Ricciardelli said.
However, not every organization may choose to hold elections, or even have officer positions. Some organizations, like the National Spanish Honor Society (NSHS) chose to simply have a leadership committee, consisting of a group of students who voluntarily choose to lead the meetings.
“I do see a difference. I feel like it’s more unified in the Spanish Honor Society, but it’s less organized. With the President and kind of the hierarchy of class [officers], it’s a lot more organized and things get done faster, whereas it’s kind of just this committee,” Ricciardelli said. “Things take a while to get done, and it’s kind of hard to communicate to each other because we all have equal power. But our opinions are kind of heard a little bit more [in NSHS].”
While in the Spanish club she has a specific role to uphold, in the NSHS, Ricciardelli is able to work on projects more independently versus waiting for approval or permission.
“Yes, there’s a lot more involvement. Like I can take charge of a project that we’re doing. I don’t have to wait for the President to lead everything- I can lead people,” Ricciardelli said.
Although there are not official “officers”, according to NSHS co-sponsor LeAnn Henderson, this committee does not seem to cause many disputes among NSHS members.
“The people who are most dedicated and want to come, they show up and come, so it’s not like we hold elections. They just eventually take over a leadership position,” Henderson said. “They are the ones who always come, and they’re dependable and they get the job done, and they work as a team.”
However, the same qualifications apply to these students as to all other members, and regardless of who choses to take on an assignment, tasks must still be completed in a timely manner.
“If we have tasks that need doing, we just say, ‘Here’s what we need,’ and they [leaders] volunteer to do it. Some people take on more than others, but that’s life. Some of them are more willing and have more time,” Henderson said.
While this system may seem slightly different than other student-led organizations, according to Henderson, it was originally the member’s idea to have a leadership committee- with the goal being to have members feel more included in the organization.
“I think it was just more, ‘Hey we all come and do this.’ There are only certain office elections that you could, office positions that you could be elected to, so this way I [student] can have a title of leadership but I don’t have to run for office,” Henderson said. “I don’t have to not be elected. I can still participate. So I think it was more to include.”
Senior Keegan Washburn seems to agree with Henderson; adding that if the members of the ASL (American Sign Language) club could be more included with the officers, then plans could be mutually understood.
“I think if the sponsors brought the members in more, and then if the officers also delegated to the members, and included them more in like, the decision-making kind of. I think the officers, because then they’re kind of in charge and they know exactly like what happened from here to here to here. I think officers and students need to be a part of the clubs,” Washburn said.
Although increased interaction could prove beneficial, Washburn went on to say how she actually lost her officer position not for this reason, but because the club’s Constitution seemed too strict.
“I think that most of the Constitutions are kind of really strict, obviously as ASL club, it’s kind of like one mistake and you’re done which is what happened [with me], but I think if it [Constitution] just kind of warns you a little more,” Washburn said.
Under the previous Constitution, if it is discovered that an officer was not upholding appropriate behavior during their ASL class period, after further review conducted by the club sponsor, the student(s) would then be removed from their officer position. As a result, both the President (Washburn) and Treasurer of ASL club were removed from office in December of 2014- a decision that definitely angered Washburn.
“Obviously if you make mistakes, things happen, but I also think the responsibilities do need to be split up [more effectively] because obviously the Secretary does a lot more than the Vice President, and there’s some things that just need to be spread out throughout all the officer positions. And maybe even the members of the club, rather than just put directly on two or three officers,” Washburn said.
ASL club does not seem to be the only organization dealing with this issue however. While some organizations, such as the German club, Latin club, and NSHS claim that there do not seem to be major issues in regards to the current officers/leaders, the Spanish club can definitely attest to having officers not follow through with their responsibilities, and hopes correcting their Constitution can provide some sort of solution.
“Right now we don’t [have a Constitution], but I think we’re going to get one, because it’s really hard because we do have two officers that don’t do anything at all. Because whenever we are all together as a team I think, like we split up everything. Because I don’t want to be the only person doing something- definitely because there’s other people involved. I don’t want them to feel like they’re left out,” Spanish club President Miriam Mora said.