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Almost one-half of Brown undergraduates report having been rejected from a student club

Faunce House
Photo: “2021 Brown University, Faunce House” by Beyond My Ken, licensed under CC 4.0.

By Zoey Katzive

“The need to have an application for everything is just to scare people,” one sophomore who took BOP’s March 2023 poll said.

Rejection is a part of life, whether it comes from your first-choice college, dream job or your crush of five years that you finally worked up the courage to ask out. Many Brown students, or at least those who applied early decision, lucked out on the first-choice college front. After all, Brown is a wonderful place to be educated, boasting an illustrious selection of academic concentrations, courses and extracurriculars. And yet, extracurriculars may be part of the rejection problem: the Brown Opinion Project’s March 2023 poll found that around 48% of undergraduates have been rejected from a club at Brown.

The proportion of students per class that have been rejected from a club generally trends upwards, with 37% of the class of 2026 reporting that they have been rejected from a club, compared to 52% of the class of 2025, 49% of the class of 2024 and 54% of the class of 2023. Additionally, students who reported that they do not fit in at Brown were slightly more likely to report that they have been rejected from a club.

61% of students who reported that they have “significantly lower” social skills than the average Brown student also reported club rejection. Those who responded that they have “significantly better” social skills than the average Brown student were ten percentage points more likely to report that they had experienced club rejection than those who said they only have “slightly better” social skills.

Among students who were interviewed after taking the poll, there was a fairly unanimous consensus that many clubs at Brown are rather competitive. A sophomore who had never been rejected from a club acknowledged that this may be because they “haven’t tried [to get into] a million clubs,” and then stated that they “definitely think the need to have an application for everything is just to scare people.”

Another sophomore who had been rejected from multiple clubs stated that they thought that “clubs where people are trying to get professional experience should try to be as accepting as possible,” adding that “people are trying to test out if they like a certain career and if [clubs] reject people they don’t get that chance.”

Having acknowledged that there is an issue with excessive club competitiveness, students had different ideas of how to mitigate this problem. One sophomore said they would like clubs to “be more welcoming and encouraging [of] people to attend their meetings and audition for things even if they don’t have a ton of experience.” Another sophomore suggested expanding club sizes to promote greater inclusivity.

Ultimately, any club’s acceptance rate is at its own discretion, but students may be tired of hearing “no” from clubs after getting a “yes” from Brown.

Note: All quoted poll-takers remain anonymous to maintain the integrity of Brown Opinion Project surveys. Brown Opinion Project conducted its March 2023 poll on March 1st, March 2nd, and March 6th, collecting 700 total responses from Brown undergraduate students. The margin of error is 3.84% with 95% confidence.


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