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Claire Liu

Whether clubs should be merged is up to debate. Proponents emphasize the communal effects of merging, while critics claim that it dilutes club individuality.

H2H: Should Clubs Be Merged?

November 6, 2023

Club Merging is an Opportunity, Not a Deprivation

180: the number of clubs on campus for the 2023-24 school year, according to the Portola High Club List. But of this sum, how many are truly distinct from one another?

Clubs are opportunities for students to be involved in the school community. With this objective in mind, clubs should continue to be merged in order to foster solidarity across Portola High’s student body while still providing diverse paths for navigating one’s interests. 

When determining whether clubs should be merged, contributions to Portola High are considered, according to ASB Clubs Commissioner and senior Ryan Hattar. 

“When filling out a club application form, one of the questions is ‘what is your drive?’” Hattar said. “And so, depending on what contributions are good to Portola, then we’ll link it up with other clubs.”

By merging clubs that have similar activities, purposes or goals, students will be able to come together and build rapport.  

The primary reason for club merging is to foster this communal effect across Portola High. By combining clubs and creating a collective mission statement, students can learn the value of coming together in common interest to pursue their hobbies and passions.

“The main purpose of merging clubs is to create one community for a sort of culture or VAPA or interest or sport club, instead of having multiple communities of that in it,” Hattar said.   

Merging clubs can provide diverse opportunities for students. Since many clubs are geared towards certain passions, ranging from the medical field to environmentalism, students can explore various potential career pathways. While there is a large variety of clubs students can join for this purpose, an excessive amount can divide one’s attention, making commitments more difficult, according to Counselor Ryan Itchon. 

Some may claim that clubs should be kept separate because of nuanced differences. For instance, one of the two crochet clubs on campus is based on community service while the other is not, according to co-President of the PHS Crochet Club, freshman Anusha Jauhri, one of these two clubs in reference.

However, merging clubs will still preserve their implied differences by combining their unique objectives and providing the advantage of a wider audience. With this combined effort, merged groups can drive each club to further heights. More members can share hobbies, opening the path for making new friends and taking stronger initiative. 

“By combining and merging clubs I feel like it’s a better fit because it allows for better collaboration and hopefully makes the chances of a club being more active a lot higher,” Itchon said.  

By embracing the benefits of club merging, a more dynamic school environment that allows students to pursue their interests and forge connections with like-minded individuals is possible. 

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Innocent Clubs Are Affected By Haphazard Merging

With the influx of new club applications this year, ASB has taken to merging similar clubs to preserve originality and to ensure communities remain undivided. 

“For example, if there were two Arab Clubs, the Arab community at Portola would be divided, so those would be merged,” ASB Club Commissioner and senior Ryan Hattar said. 

However, this may cause inadvertent harm as unsimilar clubs are merged, creating friction between club founders as they compromise their mission statements. To resolve this, ASB should consider the amount of dedication poured into forming a club and be more cognizant of clubs’ respective differences.

The clubs that do get merged sometimes do not have identical premises. The Jazz Club and the Media Appreciation Club would have been combined if Jazz Club leaders had not contested the decision, according to Jazz Club member and sophomore Noa Stewart.

“We fought for ourselves,” Stewart said. “We wanted the rights to our own club. This year, we had a strong foundation of leadership, but we were going to get merged. It was going to take away from what we wanted to do.”

Clubs receive little notice prior to being merged besides an email, leaving many confused by the lack of explanation in the selection process. 

Hattar admits that some mistakes were made, especially since he had to go through over 180 club forms. Nonetheless, the mistakes were rectified once he was notified of them, according to Hattar. 

“People make clubs because they want to say that they founded a club and put it on their college applications, so people get upset when they’re told that they’re being merged because then they lose that,” Hattar said. “Other clubs with non-profit ties get upset because they don’t want to merge with another club without those same connections, but no matter what, the Portola community comes first, and I’m not dividing that.”

Despite this goal, merging clubs compromises Portola communities and their individuality. Sending Sunshine, a club focused on making cards for senior citizens, was merged with two other clubs who wanted to meet with senior citizens face-to-face. 

“The other two clubs were made by sophomores, and they told me that they only did this for college credit, which felt unfair to me because I was really dedicated to helping senior citizens,” club president and junior Katy Hong said. “I don’t think this is helping the senior citizen community or those who want to help them. I felt like the amount of dedication I put into my club was being brushed aside, so it was like then what’s the point?”

Portola High communities are hurt by club merging, as some members are forced to compromise with others who are not genuinely invested in their clubs. To prevent similar experiences from occurring, ASB should come up with a new policy for managing clubs instead of merging them.

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Stephanie Hwang is the Assistant News Editor for her first year on Portola Pilot. This year, she hopes to connect with Portola Pilot members and learn...

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