For the first time in recent history, the class of 2016 has been offered the chance to “tap out” of senior societies.
In an email sent to members of the junior class Monday evening, Junior Class Council President Emily Van Alst ’16 invited students to opt out of society tap — the spring semester process in which senior members of a society select a crop of new inductees. The announcement comes in response to recent calls to reform the tap process, which has been criticized in the past for its lack of transparency and the pressure it places on juniors. Though students interviewed were largely supportive of the new option, others questioned how it would be carried out in practice.
“There’s no reason why you should have to participate if you don’t want to,” Kimaya Abreu ’15 said. “There can be some awkwardness about declining to go to an interview, and I think people might know from the get-go if they don’t want to be involved.”
The message to juniors, which was just three sentences long, allowed students to exclude their names from consideration by replying directly via email. The specifics, including how and when these names would be transferred to members of senior societies, were not included in the body of the announcement.
Rachel Tobin ’15, co-secretary of the Senior Class Council, said the idea came in response to the criticism being voiced by both juniors and seniors regarding the selection process.
“There were a number of complaints because people were being looked at by societies when they didn’t want to be… They thought that was going against their personal wishes and did not want to be involved in the process whatsoever,” Tobin said. “After … hearing complaints about going through the process, we realized that as seniors we should do something.”
She added that SCC partnered with members of the Junior Class Council to enact this new policy, in which SCC would pass along the list of juniors to representatives in each senior society. Tobin said that while they could not ensure juniors listed would not receive interviews or invitations, she said each society would be made aware of those who did not want to be considered.
Of the six juniors and seniors interviewed, four were in support of the new measure.
Alan Zhang ’16 said the new option will likely allow the tap process to run more smoothly.
“I think it’s probably a good idea if a lot of people are interested in it in the first place instead of societies wasting their efforts on people who don’t want to be in a society,” he said.
He added that he was still unsure if he would participate in the tap process due to time constraints, so he appreciated this new option to opt out.
Viveca Morris ’15, a staff columnist for the News who wrote a piece earlier this month calling for a similar reform, welcomed the initiative as a way to give juniors greater autonomy and freedom.
“I’m excited that the Junior Class Council is trying to reform the tap process in a way that’s a benefit to everyone, and I’m curious and excited to see how they do that,” Morris said. “What matters isn’t whether the system is ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ but simply that people have an option to choose whether or not to participate.”
Others, however, were more indifferent to the change and said it would only affect a small number of students.
Bernardo Barzana ’16 said that since juniors who do not want to be in a society can already choose to not participate in tap events, he was not sure how useful the option would be. He added it was likely that only the very few who are very adamantly against society would opt out.
Though Tobin said she could not predict how many people would reply to Van Alst’s email, she argued the new measure will only be beneficial.
“I am assuming it won’t be a large number, but even if it is just 10 people, we will be helping those people and make sure their wishes are being respected,” she said.