The Chronicle's staff editorial entitled "Money Troubles" calls attention to a problem that has faced clubs for far too long. As the president of a mid-sized club with "an established presence on campus, a sizable and dedicated membership and qualified leaders," I am troubled by the inability of many worthy clubs in need of support to gain the aid they require.
I am president of mock trial, where students simulate courtroom trials and compete nationally. For four years, I have been frustrated at the lack of administrative support for this academic extracurricular and at the lack of awareness of the prestige of the program. Despite tireless fundraising attempts by our members and notwithstanding generous donations from individual departments, we have still had to pay significantly out of pocket to travel to tournaments and have in the past been forced to withdraw from events because of insufficient funds.
Yet, I have been encouraged by the idea that a small group of dedicated and talented students could take the initiative to form a club--without money, without an advisor--and consistently compete at a high level with the best schools in the nation. The students who do mock trial take it upon themselves to compete. These are the types of students we should encourage--it is this type of student Duke seeks in enhancing its academic reputation, and it is this type of student that Duke risks alienating by its burdensome administrative and funding practices.
A word to those reviewing the plight of clubs: Please find a way to keep highly motivated students like those in mock trial from having to scramble for existence. Though I am wary of The Chronicle's willingness to cut certain clubs altogether, attention must be given to those clubs that have fallen through the cracks, clubs that, like us, are finding that talent and initiative can only take them so far when the cracks are not cracks but are major holes.