The Legal and Government Affairs committee of the Student Government Association (SGA) denied Alpha Zeta, a group of seven-year medical students, official club status with a vote of three to six.
The purpose of Alpha Zeta, which has about 50 members, is to enhance the learning experience of students enrolled specifically in the seven-year medical program at the College. Members of the Legal and Government Affairs committee expressed concern as to the originality of the organization’s purpose.
Michael Strom, vice president of Legal and Government Affairs, said that if afforded club status, Alpha Zeta would have been one among other similar clubs.
“Currently, there are five other organizations that deal with a similar purpose,” Strom said.
Dan Scapardine, senator of culture and society, said that there are other organizations at the College which help to facilitate the transition from undergraduate studies to medical school. These organizations include the Minority Organization of Pre-health Students (MAPS) and the Tri Beta biology honor society.
“We pass a lot of clubs and we have to be a little stricter with who we pass,” Scapardine said.
Natasha Nayak, sophomore biology major and president of Alpha Zeta, said that the purpose of Alpha Zeta is unique.
The organization focuses on “seven-year agendas and topics,” Nayak said.
Students desiring admittance into the College’s seven-year medical program must apply for the program at the onset of the application process. The program plan for seven-year medical students differs from other majors affiliated with the medical field, with requirements specific to the seven-year medical program. Seven-year medical students spend three years at the College, followed by four years at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ).
Nayak said that the alternative nature of the seven-year medical program creates needs for mentorship of its students as well as a collaborative guidance effort. Alpha Zeta would serve to fulfill both needs.
Joel Park, junior biology major and global studies chairperson of Alpha Zeta, said that the special qualities of the seven-year medical program make certain aspects of the college experience more difficult to attain, such as a semester of study abroad.
Additionally, Nayak said that seven-year medical students are given the impression that an Alpha Zeta chapter exists as a club upon acceptance to the College.
“Our acceptance letters included an invitation to the Alpha Zeta society,” Nayak said.
Nayak later discovered that the chapter had been deemed inactive for over a decade.
Strom said that he spoke with members of Alpha Zeta and recommended that they communicate with members of the other student medical organizations on campus to discuss the possible formation of subcommittees or changes to their constitutions. Strom also said that if communication does not produce the desired effect, members of Alpha Zeta are “more than welcome” to reapply to the Legal and Government Affairs committee.
Nayak and Park, however, said that they will not reapply to the committee. Alpha Zeta has been recognized by the biology department as a separate departmental organization.
Park said the only difficulties Alpha Zeta faces as an organization recognized by the biology department, but not by SGA, will be in advertising. Only official SGA-recognized clubs can advertise for meetings and events on the campus.
As to the reason for denial of club status, Park speculated that the goals of Alpha Zeta were not made clear to the Legal and Government Affairs committee.
“We don’t really blame SGA,” Park said. “It was a misunderstanding on both sides.”