College Council presented their findings from a Club Involvement Poll on Feb. 17 to Provost Ravi Bellamokonda and the Undergraduate Council, which consists of members from across the Emory University undergraduate community. The survey, which began on Feb. 3, is the beginning of College Council’s efforts toward improving “belonging efforts, promoting involvement and expanding access,” according to an email from College Council.

Incoming College Council President Neha Murthy (24C) is leading the initiative to improve club culture at Emory along with other College Council representatives, including outgoing Fourth Year Legislator Rhea Gupta (23C), incoming Third Year Legislator Corinne Phillips (25C), outgoing Third Year Legislator Harry Kou (24C), current Vice President of Organization Management Hridansh Saraogi (24C), incoming Second Year Legislator Rachel Alpert-Wisnia (26C) and outgoing Oxford Continuee Legislator Arden Chan (22Ox, 24C).

Murthy said she is worried that Emory clubs reject students too frequently.

“Hearing from actual students of being rejected from like 13 clubs, or trying to get into the same club over two or three years, and then facing the rejection multiple times — it’s really disheartening, because we’re trying to create a college environment, and it’s an experience you should be able to enjoy, be involved and learn,” Murthy said. “We also see a lot of burnout, so I think that people being in a lot of leadership positions also causes that decrease or decline in mental health.”

According to Murthy, Student Involvement, Leadership and Transitions (SILT) invited College Council to share their data with the full SILT staff in order to “make some tangible changes from there.” One of the largest concerns that College Council is bringing to the dean and provost’s attention is that students are not getting the experience from campus clubs that they worked hard for, she said.

Murthy said that when students attempt to get involved in campus life, the application and interview processes — which she said are unnecessary at times — add a high barrier to entry. She also noted a large gap between the role of general body members and executive board positions, where the executive members do most of the work and have internal bonding events.

The interview process also often favors extroverted people, Murthy noted, even if introverted candidates are able to do the work better than their extroverted peers.

According to the poll, the greatest number of students felt excluded by pre-professional business clubs, followed by cultural and academic organizations, then political, service and ideological organizations.

Students from all racial and ethnic groups besides Hispanic felt it was hard to get involved in the community and students from all racial groups besides Middle Eastern felt strongly that the same people “availed too many positions.”

On average, each Emory student is involved in 3.32 clubs and has been rejected from 2.86 clubs. Students also interview for 3.7 clubs on average, while only holding 1.47 executive board positions.


“Another thing that I have on my mind is that we have a large divide of people who are extremely involved, hold multiple board positions,” Murthy said. “And then there’s the opposite extreme and then a lot of people are in the middle. But it’s a lot on the extremes — not involved or very highly involved.”

Engaging with community and developing a sense of belonging are essential components of student flourishing for the Emory student experience, according to SILT Associate Director of Student Organizations and Governance Dion Webb-Figueroa.

“In SILT, we are working to enhance support for our student organizations and increase process transparency and training,” Webb-Figueroa wrote in an email to the Wheel. “SILT is committed to gathering students’ input on their experiences and collecting data on the selection processes of chartered student organizations. This information helps SILT to make informed decisions on how to further extend support for student organizations and address any concerns from the community within our scope related to this topic.”

Incoming College Council President Neha Murthy (24C) is leading the initiative to improve club culture at Emory. Courtesy of Neha Murthy.

Business students’ experiences with club rejection

When Daniel Ren (24B) was rejected from multiple business clubs and the Asian Student Organization’s Leadership Experience Advising Program during his first year at Emory, he did not understand why.

“I honestly expected I would be involved in stuff immediately and be able to get into things, but I had no idea that the clubs were this selective, especially for the pre-professional ones,” Ren said.

Frustrated, Ren repeatedly asked for feedback from clubs that rejected him. He received either no response or “random excuses,” such as clubs being “too competitive” or having “very qualified people” making it “very hard to decide.”

However, being “humbled” by business clubs gave Ren an understanding of the competitive world awaiting after college.

“It’s really difficult for them to accept everyone who wants to be in it,” Ren said. “Otherwise, the talent is going to be diluted and it’s going to be really hard to create a good experience for the few who got in.”

He added that if a person asks for genuine feedback, the club should do a better job giving feedback, regardless of rejection or acceptance.

Ren is among many students who were puzzled after receiving club rejections. Iris Duan (21Ox, 24B), who was also rejected by several business clubs, noted there is a range of exclusivity to the clubs.

Business consulting clubs — including 180 Degrees Consulting, Atlas Consulting Group and Goizueta Investment Management Group — are among the most exclusive. Factors like internal politics play into executive board appointments, according to Duan. However, there are also clubs with “less hostile” application processes, such as the Economics Society Business Club and the Emory Climate and Solutions Team, Duan said.

“It does make sense because, say, for the dance club, if you’re gonna go to competitions, you do need the best people,” Duan said. “I wouldn’t say that rejection culture is necessarily bad when it comes to exec positions.”

Even though club interviews are good practice for job interviews post-college, Duan said there is an access issue between students who are well-prepared compared to low-income students who are unfamiliar with finance and consulting interviews.

Duan said this disparity became clear when interviewing people for 180 Degrees Consulting.

“When interviewing people, I really noticed that kind of pattern and trend,” Duan said. “I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s an equal fair shot,’ but it really isn’t because some people just come pre-prepared.”

However, Duan said that the disparities reflect the real-life job market.

Though Wyatt Wolfman (26C) was rejected from Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity Inc., Atlas Consulting Group and Goizueta Investment Management Group, he doesn’t see the rejections as a bad thing.

“Having a high bar and their rejection, that’s basically real life,” Wolfman said. “You’re not going to get every single job you apply to. You’re not gonna get into every single school that you apply to.”

Wolfman added that students should work harder and better themselves to get into clubs. He said that though rejecting students might feel like a disservice, it’s worse to set them up to get every opportunity.

Murthy disagreed, noting that a part of the “real world” is people receiving multiple job offers and having the option to reject them.

One of the group’s current ideas is to implement implicit bias training into the Officer Compliance Training, a training mandatory for all club presidents and treasurers or financial officers for student organizations, in an effort to make selection for executive positions more inclusive. However, Murthy said that the initiative is still in its discussion stages, but they are still in the “baby steps” of working to “make an impact from [their] data.”

“We see this large problem on campus and we’re here to start the conversation and see what can be done to fix it,” Murthy added.

+ posts

Asst. News Editor | Ashley Zhu (she/her) (25C) is from Dallas, Texas, majoring in biology and minoring in sociology. She is the vice president of recruitment for the Residence Hall Association, a sophomore advisor for Raoul Hall and a staff writer for the Emory Undergraduate Medical Review. She is involved in cell biology research at the Pallas Lab and is a BIOL 141 Learning Assistant. Zhu enjoys FaceTiming her dog, stalking people's Spotify playlists and listening to classical music in her free time.