Long live Scuttlebutt Sailing Club
Published on October 11th, 2015
A private university based in Los Angeles isn’t feeling much love for sailing. The student Senate at Pitzer College rejected a proposed yacht club on the grounds that its name was offensive, reports The Claremont Independent.
“Student Senate voted against this club instatement as the majority of Senators found the name ‘Yacht Club’ to have a particularly offensive association with Yacht Clubs and a recreation known for being exclusive,” wrote Taylor Novick-Finder (’17), a Pitzer College Senator.
The club requested $5000 in funding to go towards renting boats and hiring instructors, though clubs do not have to receive the full amount requested from the Senate (or any money at all) if the Senate approves them.
According to Senators, this was only the third club to be rejected by the Senate in the history of Pitzer College. The first two, the Hammock Club and the Cake Club, were denied because they were too similar to existing clubs already funded by Pitzer.
The Yacht Club’s would-be president, Jordan Fox (’16), is also a member of the student Senate at Pitzer. “We as a Student Senate have overreached our boundaries,” Fox stated. “We should be looking for ways to fund clubs that promote a sense of community within the student body.”
Fox has never sailed before, and was hoping to start a club that teaches and promotes boating and sailing. “It’s frustrating that we don’t really have a precedent set as far as which clubs we’re willing to approve and which ones we aren’t. It’s almost like this is a satire at this point.”
“We were turned down just because of our name,” Fox said. “We have been trying to talk about the description of the club, but everyone is so focused on the name. We never had intentions of making this club offensive in any way. I certainly never would have thought this name could be considered classist.”
However, some students felt that the decision to reject the Yacht Club was justified, regardless of its name.
“It doesn’t matter what it is called, the club itself is a classist and inaccessible activity for people who are not wealthy,” wrote one Pitzer student. “Pitzer’s money would be going towards a luxurious classist, elitist yachting activity (alienating students on campus who are lower income)…”
Yacht Club’s founders hope that Senate will approve their club if they change its name. “I by no means want anyone to feel uncomfortable. I would just like a space on campus where we as students can enjoy and learn more about sailing, boating, the ocean, and sea chanteys,” said Fox. “After the meeting, we are planning to change the name of the club or possibly drop the matter altogether.”
More: Scuttlebutt Sailing News received this note from Jordan Fox who was quoted above:
My name is Jordan Fox, I am a senior at Pitzer College, a second year Student Senator, and the prospective president of the “Pitzer College Yacht Club.” Earlier this year, some friends and I decided to form the Pitzer College Yacht Club. Our goal for this club was that we could receive funds to learn about sailing, hire instructors, and gain a new life experience. Any Pitzer student would be encouraged and welcomed to join the club.
During a Student Senate meeting last week, Senators were outraged by the name “Yacht Club”. As some of the student senators believed the name to be “Elitist”, “Classist”, and have an inherently “exclusive” nature, the club was rejected. We never had intentions of making this club offensive or exclusionary in any way. We hoped that this club would be an excellent way to provide an opportunity for students, such as myself, who have never sailed before to learn about sailing. We hoped to make all of our activities more accessible to students from all backgrounds. Had the club been approved we would have been recognized as an organization on campus and then would have gone through the funding stage of the club.
As a senior and a Student Senator, I am disappointed in the overreach of power by the Pitzer College Senate. We should be looking for ways to fund clubs, enable personal growth, and promote a sense of community within the student body. What is disheartening is that while my club was shot down, last year we had a Hunting Club approved and this year, a Tattoo Club has been approved.
After the Claremont Independent captured my story, I have been reached out to by fellow students, alumni, and friends who wanted to express their support and see how they can help. I still have hopes of learning how to sail. With this goal in mind, I have created a Crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the Pitzer Yacht Club to take a small sailing trip. We also wanted to use our unexpected notoriety to promote a good cause and that is why we have pledged any proceeds from our campaign to the Local Southern Californian Boys and Girls Clubs.
Thank you and clear skies ahead.
Editor’s note: Pitzer was established as a women’s college but is now men and women. Pitzer is a part of the Claremont Consortium which is five undergraduate colleges and two graduate universities. As for clubs, they must be approved by the student’s home college and then only students at that college can attend those club events.