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Students, ICC president reflect on new Street Week

<p>Colonial Club</p>
<p>Courtesy of Zachary Shevin</p>

Colonial Club

Courtesy of Zachary Shevin

After five days of events at all 11 eating clubs, Street Week is drawing to a close.

At 9 a.m. on Feb. 8, eating club admissions will become available to students through the Interclub Council (ICC) website. A number of students have weighed in on whether or not they prefer Street Week to the processes of the past.

In a guest contribution to The Daily Princetonian, ICC president Hannah Paynter ’19 explained efforts to improve the eating club selection process before Street Week. These efforts included “Sophomore Week,” a three-hour open house, and nightly Q&As in the Frist Campus Center in November. ICC also increased its social media presence.

The new efforts also streamlined the selective process and sign-in process into a single week, in an effort to get more sophomores to consider the sign-in clubs. 

Paynter’s guest contribution described the change to the Street Week process as “the biggest change to club admissions since the online portal went live in 2013.”

One way that the new process aimed to level the playing field between selective and sign-in clubs was by requiring bickerees to request invitations to Street Week events from at least one sign-in club, in addition to any selective clubs.

Avinash Boppana ’21 chose to bicker Cap & Gown Club. However, he said that being required to request invitations from at least one sign-in club definitely increased his interest in the sign-ins. 

“The new branding definitely opened my eyes to other options,” Boppana said. “General awareness and exposure to other options is definitely, I think, a positive thing.”

Victor Hua ’21, another bickeree, echoed this sentiment. “If its goal was to get me to look more into sign-in clubs and kind of diversify my choices, it definitely accomplished that,” he said.

Hua is a staff writer for the ‘Prince.’

Though he ended up ranking a selective club as his top choice, Hua noted that simultaneously receiving event invitations from both sign-in and bicker clubs compelled him to explore options beyond Bicker to a greater extent than he would have done under the old system.

The ICC also doubled the window of time to rank clubs and implemented a new “matching system.” The system, which required sophomores to rank all five sign-in clubs, in addition to any clubs that they bickered, sought to “guarantee that every sophomore receives an offer on Friday morning,” according to Paynter.

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“It takes the emphasis away from a binary ‘yes or no’ and makes it more of ‘varying degrees of yes,’” Paynter said.

Though considering getting into a second-choice sign-in club to be “pretty much the same” as participating in late sign-in, bickeree Lawrence Chiang ’21 still prefers the new system. Chiang noted that the new system forces bickerees to consider their full range of options before the release of Bicker results. This, he said, makes sign-in clubs feel like less of a last-resort.

“You have to put in a little more thought. I think it makes [sophomores] look at [the sign-in clubs] a little more than just like ‘Oh crap, I didn’t get into anything. Let me see what my options are now,’” Chiang said. “It actually gives the sign-in clubs a chance…. Everything’s more on equal grounds.”

Masha Muira ’21, another sophomore who participated in Street Week, said that though the matching system may have positive effects for some students, she does not plan on joining a sign-in club if “hosed” from the clubs she bickered.

“Being ‘double-hosed’ would be devastating, so at the very least, if an eating club is something you wanted, it’s nice to have the option available,” she said. “It’d be nice, on the other hand, if not only the eating clubs, but independent and co-op options, are advertised … as well.”

She noted that “there’s just generally less information available” about dining options beyond the Street.

Earlier in the year, however, the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students (ODUS), the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), and the ICC attempted to spread information on different sophomore dining options by creating and distributing a USG Guide on Upper Class Dining Options. The Guide contains descriptions of what it is like to be on a meal plan, to be independent, or to be a member of each of the 11 eating clubs and five co-ops. 

ODUS also held an information session on that matter on Jan. 10. Paynter estimated that approximately 50 students attended this info session. 

“At the end of the day, the ICC is an organization that just wants the sophomore class, or the student body in general, to feel confident in where they’re getting their food and where they’re spending their time,” Paynter said. “Obviously, we want the Street to be that home for them, but we understand that it’s not for everyone.”

Once eating club admissions become available at 9 a.m. on Feb. 8, sophomores will decide whether or not to accept admission to any of the clubs.

Then, the sign-in clubs will adjust their capacities accordingly. Once the “caps” have been adjusted, depending on availability, students not already in a club will be presented the opportunity to fill the spaces. 

On Monday, Feb. 11, according to Paynter, the ICC website will reopen to facilitate this reshuffling. Paynter noted an uncertainty as to how this “reshuffling” would pan out logistically.

“It’s a little ambiguous. We’ve never really been there before, because it’s the first time we’ve had this different ranking system,” Paynter said.

Muira noted that some issues with the Street that were not addressed by the Street Week changes. 

“Obviously there are a bunch of problems with Bicker and eating clubs as a whole,” she said. “I think it can be hard because a lot of people face a dilemma of ‘Do I want to be a part of a system that’s propagating these negative effects?’ versus wanting to pursue their own social life.”

Though acknowledging that concerns exist, the ICC decided to leave the bicker process “pretty much alone.”

“In the early stages of brainstorming, we talked about what our biggest problems were as the entire Street,” Paynter said. “We talked about making the Bicker process as fair as possible in the early stages, so what I think a lot of us were concerned about were these self-selective processes that were happening.”

These self-selective processes, she said, included students’ preconceived notions that certain clubs were too exclusive for them or catered to specific demographics that they are not part of. 

To challenge these assumptions, Paynter said, the ICC placed an emphasis on having more open events earlier in the year.

Christian Flores ’21, a sophomore who chose not to participate in Street Week, was still pleased with what he has heard of the new system.

Flores is an associate copy editor for the ‘Prince.’

“It’s great that we’re shifting away from a ‘Bicker-centric’ rhetoric to something that promotes more sign-in clubs,” he said. “Even though I didn’t bicker, and even though it’s a small step, I think it’s a small step that’s making good change.”