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By: Pooja Sreerangan

The McMaster Students Union boasts having over 350 clubs with an entire section dedicated towards clubs that are meant to raise awareness and funds for a diverse selection of social issues. While this sounds noble on paper, how many of these clubs actually impart meaningful change?

There are many reasons students join or create these types of clubs and unfortunately, altruism is not the top motivator. In our current competitive climate, students are pushed to become “well-rounded” on the basis that well-rounded students are more desirable. Thus, many students strive to not only excel academically but also engage in a broad spectrum of activities that would be looked upon favourably by a potential employer.

While it is important for students to be well-rounded, many lose sight as to why this is important; the skills and experiences one can gain as a result of being involved in a multitude of activities. Instead, it is often the case that students will join as many clubs as they possibly can in order to pad their résumés and CVs. The result is that students appear to be extremely well-rounded when the reality is anything but.

What is worse is that many of these students only contribute the bare minimum to these clubs — that is, if contribute anything at all. As someone involved with the recruitment for various clubs, it is disappointing to witness the overabundance of interest at the beginning of the school year rapidly taper off as time passes. By the end of the term, it is typical to find only a handful of members attending required shifts and meetings compared to the dozens that initially signed up.

I understand that academics take priority but students should be responsible enough to only agree to commitments which they can actually fulfill. Otherwise, it is unethical to state to employers and recruiters that they contributed to clubs in which they did nothing for. In fact, these individuals most likely hindered the club’s progress.

This problem seems to be worsening with time. At McMaster, there has been an apparent rise in “social-front” clubs; that is, clubs that have been created for the sole purpose of CV and résumé padding rather than their stated goals of influencing meaningful change. Every September at the annual Clubsfest, there seems to be more of these social-front clubs that center around the discussion of niche issues. Raising awareness is important but I have serious reservations that these clubs even do that.

MSU Clubs should adopt a “quality over quantity” ideal. There must be some accountability in place for social issue clubs to prove that they are in fact continuously making a positive change or they should be disbanded. Considering that the MSU provides a budget to those clubs that request it, it is important to ensure that student funds are not being given to clubs that do not complete what they’ve promised.

So the next time you decide to join a club or maybe even create a new one, ask yourself, are you actually trying to make a change or are you beefing up your CV?

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You are walking through the University Hall arch homecoming evening as you hear a muffled “EFRT” and all of a sudden –OUCH.

You’ve been hit.

Bewildered, you look around, catching a glimpse of a girl repositioning her footing on her bicycle and riding off. You later learn she was a participant of McMaster Students Union’s Emergency First Response Team orientation weekend, a competitive selection process where only the very best make the team.

Waiting for an X-ray the next day, you grapple with the thought of a potential emergency first aid responder running you over and failing to respond to your need for emergency first aid.

It’s no secret that a medical school application must be impressive to stand out from a sea of hopefuls. A myriad of volunteer commitments, leadership positions, awards and research experiences are staples in competitive CVs. These are wonderful opportunities for personal growth beyond the classroom and for potential improvements in our community. But how many of these experiences are truly meaningful and compassion-driven?

The slogan “this will look great on a resume” is a marketing strategy that has become ubiquitous when trying to recruit students into clubs and organizations. Many of us, in our attempts to amp our resume, end up making tedious and half-hearted attempts at dozens of activities.

Dabbling here and there, however, to satisfy a quota for an application does not leave a lasting impact on us. Nor on our community. Worse, being so single-mindedly fixated on the achievement can harm those around us in the process.

None of this, however, is apparent from the eloquently worded statement on a resume.

Medicine and compassion are inextricable. Yet, in our frenzy of resume development, we sometimes let the greater purpose slip away; the goal of one day becoming a professional capable of helping and caring for people. How many of our accomplishments are undertaken to develop ourselves and enrich our community? And how much of it is done to sway the hand of an administrator seated behind a stack of applications in a few years?

We should be wary of getting so swept up on our journeys to medical school that we become callous to our surroundings. After all, the greatest of doctors are passionate, dedicated and compassionate. Building our preconceived notions of a great application with the absence of these qualities can veer us away from being great physicians later.

From one medical school hopeful to another: on your road to doctorhood, watch out for pedestrians.

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