The fall of 2021 may go down in Commonwealth history as a standout season for new student organizations, with groups springing up to meet a variety of interests. Some clubs are a natural extension of the passions students find in Commonwealth’s academic and art classes. Competitive Programming, under the guidance of Will ’23, compares “pros and cons of different ways of solving the same problem” at its meetings; meanwhile, Film Club watches and discusses movies over several lunch periods.
French Club, coordinated by Ayla ’23 and Penny ’23, eats treats and practices skills by watching French-language clips and shows, like Netflix’s Au Service de la France (A Very Secret Service) and the Eugène Ionesco play La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Singer). “It's a place to engage with the language outside of class, in a more relaxed atmosphere—Penny and I know from experience that it's much easier to learn French that way,” comments Ayla.
Other groups open up a space for play. Ping Pong (aka Table Tennis) Club is in the midst of a year-long tournament with student and faculty participants. When not in official gameplay, the sounds of their practice rounds—and laughter—echo through the Cafegymnatorium. Go Club, dedicated to the Chinese strategy game, has “had a few introductory lectures, held a demo game….and watched pieces of a documentary on AlphaGo,” says Milo ’22. “Mostly though, people have been playing games, while a few of us wander from board to board to offer tips.”
Then there are organizations that resist categories. According to co-founders Margaret ’23 and Avery ’23, the Commonwealth Pirate Association—more commonly known as Pirate Club—grew from efforts “to unite the would-be adversaries” on the Fencing and Sailing teams “under one banner: piracy. Why argue about whose sport is better when you can have fun in the spirit of both?” Their swashbuckling activities have included Dress Like A Pirate Day and a joint meeting with the Gender and Sexuality Alliance on the queer history of piracy. And finally, the enigmatic Anti-Club Club, carrying on Commonwealth’s unorthodox spirit, is known to gather (loosely) on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall every lunch.