Campus Reflects on Lack of Juniors in Student Organizations

By Vincent DiFonzo, Content Manager

Across campus, students have noted a lack of involvement by the class of 2024 in extracurriculars including clubs, sports teams, and student organizations. Seniors typically occupy the majority of leadership positions in campus clubs and organizations, but the lack of current junior involvement could prove problematic as leadership positions find themselves vacant in the 2023-2024 academic year. 

Experienced leadership is vital to the logistics of running a student organization. From recruitment to running meetings to planning events, effective leadership can make or break a student organization’s success on campus. Various seniors in leadership roles across campus commented on this trend and its effect on their organizations. 

Jack Herr ’23, an officer for the ultimate frisbee team and sports editor for The Gettysburgian, has noticed a “major discrepancy between class representation on the team.”

Ultimate Frisbee has about 10 seniors and 15 first-years yet only one sophomore and two juniors.  Herr fears that this discrepancy could affect the team next year, noting how the executive board is already “very senior-heavy” and that there are going to be no juniors, or even sophomores, to replace them. 

With its current emphasis on recruitment and engagement, Herr believes that Ultimate Frisbee will “remain one of the best club sports on campus” despite this rising problem.

Abigail Minzer ’23, co-captain of the Mock Trial team, noted that there are only three juniors in Mock Trial, and all three are graduating early and will not be on campus for the entirety of the next academic year. Minzer theorized that the pandemic is the root of this problem.

“The pandemic has made the leadership of mock trial (and probably many other student organizations) feel disconnects between past, current, and future eras of club leadership,” said Minzer.

Pandemic shutdowns heavily affected the 2020-2021 school year at Gettysburg College, the year in which the Class of 2024 were in their first year. Clubs and organizations largely met online, making engagement difficult.

The 2022-2023 school year has been the first in which Mock Trial has been able to return to in-person competitions. Minzer stated, “Students who led the club last year didn’t have any experience with handling the logistics of traveling to hand down to me as a leader, resulting in me having to figure everything out for myself.”

Minzer noted that managing the logistics of an organization such as Mock Trial without training from previous student leadership can be intimidating. Still, she remains optimistic that future club leadership will be up for the challenge. 

This phenomenon has also affected the Student Senate, whose executive board is entirely made up of seniors and sophomores.

President of the Student Senate Miranda Zamora ’23 noted that she recently observed an uptick in extracurricular engagement from juniors at Student Senate meetings. 

“We had a large number of applicants for our junior class senators compared to those of other class years. I have also noticed a large number of juniors coming in as their club representatives to sit in on the meetings,” said Zamora. 

Because of this, Zamora is optimistic about the future of the Student Senate and student organizations as a whole, noting that she has “hopes for a larger turnout in the upcoming executive board elections.”

Additionally, Zamora pointed out that many students choose to study abroad in their junior year, which affects their involvement on campus. 

Traditionally, the position of Student Senate president is held by a senior. Despite the lack of juniors on the Senate executive board, Zamora believes that juniors will step up to run for Senate President and other executive positions next year, based on what she has heard “from members considering running.”  

The lack of junior involvement is certain to put pressure on underclassmen involved in student organizations who assume leadership positions next year.

This article originally appeared on page 15 of the February 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.

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Author: Vincent DiFonzo

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