This time last year, Charter Club faced a crisis. Confronted with dwindling enrollment, its officer corps and graduate board solicited redesign plans from undergraduates. Several groups put forth proposals, including an idea to turn Charter into a co-op and the ultimately successful plan to reinstate Bicker.
The club’s return to Bicker provoked some backlash, both from current students and alumni. But the move was successful in driving new members to Charter, as the club gained 125 sophomores and two juniors in its spring 2020 sign-in round, quintupling its previous year’s membership. For the first time in over 40 years, Charter developed plans to hold Bicker in 2021.
Now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after receiving input from members, Charter’s leadership has placed those plans on hold. Instead, Charter has announced plans for a “points-based sign-in system” to occur during this year’s Street Week.
“Given the unique circumstances of this semester and the uncertainty that we still have with Spring semester, we just did not think that it would be prudent at this time to create an entirely new bicker process for this virtual environment,” Charter President Jaren McKinnie ’21 wrote to The Daily Princetonian, “only to have to create another new one, or to adapt it, for when we return in person.”
“We talked to the membership a lot about this and continued to listen to their feedback, and a clear majority of the membership were more open to some sort of weighted sign-in system,” McKinnie added.
According to an internal email obtained by the ‘Prince,’ Charter members voted this past summer to determine the club’s membership criteria. The vote was roughly equally split between Bicker, sign-in, and a selective sign-in system — 16.5 chose Bicker, 15 chose sign-in, and 20.5 chose selective sign-in (with half-points indicating instances in which members selected more than one response).
In an Nov. 12 email sent to all undergraduates via residential college listservs, Charter officers announced the plans for its spring 2021 selection process, stating that a points-based system will be used “in the case that the club exceeds capacity for people wishing to sign-in.”
“If Charter exceeds sign-in capacity, individuals with more points will be prioritized in being admitted to the club,” the club’s statement said.
The email explained that the club will host 10 virtual events from “mid-November through Street Week” and that prospective members will earn one point for “attendance and earnest engagement” at each one for a maximum of five points. The statement emphasized that further attendance “will not increase chances of admittance.”
Prospective members may also receive one “member point” from any member with whom they interact at a recruitment event. This point counts towards prospective members’ five points.
“We still did want to try and give the members a bit more influence in who can be admitted into the club, but we also wanted to make sure that everyone has a fair shot at getting in,” McKinnie wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “I think that this gives us the best of both, that you can still improve your chances of getting into the club by just showing interest and coming to events, while also giving the members more agency in the decisions as well like you would typically see in a bicker process.”
This spring’s Street Week will take place virtually from Jan. 31 to Feb. 13, 2021.