Have you ever studied really hard for a midterm or final, only to get it back and get a low grade? It probably didn’t feel very good to have that number staring you in the face, telling you that you are inadequate.

For students at Marist, this is how priority points can make us feel. Just as as your entire grade is determined by your midterm and final, there is far too much resting on priority points, including what clubs we join and why, housing, and our college experience in general. It is time Marist students recognize the problems with priority points and stop letting our lives be run by them. It is time we take a stand against them and all the flaws that are involved in the system. We owe it to ourselves because we are more than just a number, and we do not deserve to be defined by one.

Every month when I attend the Campus Ministry meetings, which is the largest club on campus, the auditorium is packed with students who are dedicated to their faith and to helping others.

Or so I once thought.

But after getting acclimated with the priority points system, I have come to realize that, unfortunately, that is not the case. Campus Ministry, along with every other club on campus, never holds a meeting where priority points are not discussed, and every single club outright encourages its members to participate in community service events and other projects because “its an easy way to gain priority points.” Because of this, much of the true meaning and purpose of these clubs have become lost to priority points. People participate in community service, school events and fundraisers not for the good of helping others, but for a number.

This raises questions not only about students’ true intentions in joining clubs, but also about each club’s authenticity as well. Would all the clubs and organizations we have on campus maintain as high of an attendance rate if priority points didn’t exist? Probably not, and that’s why the system was put in place to begin with—to encourage people to participate and get involved in the college community by offering priority points, which determine what type of housing students receive.

At first glance, this seems logical: the school wants its students to be involved not only academically but socially as well, and by using something like housing which we care deeply about, priority points are intended to be motivation and incentive.

But why do we need an incentive? Are there not enough students here at Marist who would be willing to help others and participate in clubs and organizations simply because they are passionate about them? Are we not hardworking, dedicated students who are driven to be well rounded because we go to a school which, according to admissions, only accepts students with these qualities?

Upon closer investigation, priority points are actually somewhat of an insult to students, as if the college does not have faith in us to do these things on our own, but would rather bribe us. I think that if we really did need an incentive, the fact that we (or our parents) are paying thousands of dollars each year for us to attend Marist would serve as a pretty good one. After all, we are not paying all this money just to go to class. Most of us are here for the full college experience, which includes extracurricular activities. And if money isn’t enough, what about your resume? Don’t we all want to graduate with a plethora of accomplishments both in and out of the classroom? In the end, we don’t need priority points to motivate us to be involved and to do well – we as Marist students are motivated by our own goals and aspirations.

Not only do priority points reveal deep-rooted problems about how we as students are treated, but even the very basics of the system are flawed.

For example, most students who are employed do not receive priority points for their jobs, and many Division 1 athletes who devote their lives to play a sport receive only two priority points in return. Yet how can we expect these busy individuals to work or play a sport and still have the time to keep their grades up and join several clubs? Students should not be penalized for keeping busy – that is, after all, the opposite of the intended effect of the priority point system.

With all the flaws of the priority point system, it seems strange that students would continue to put up with the backwards plan. But then we remember that we all want those beautiful new townhouses next year, and we are put right back under their hypnotic spell. You better be sure to keep your priority points up, because if you are the one bringing the group average down, you’ll find yourself being kicked to the curb. It is at that exact moment that you will realize priority points aren’t just controlling what clubs you join and how you plan your schedule, but they have even found a way to creep into your social life.

While we may not be able to abolish the priority point system anytime soon, the one thing that we students can do is to not let them control our lives. Do not go priority point crazy at each activity fair by signing up for every club and organization that is offered. I challenge you instead to sign up for only a few that you are really interested in and able to commit to, even if it means less points.

And when housing time rolls around each year, plan to live with people who you get along with, not who will bring your average up the most. True friends will see past how ever many priority points you have.

As students, we only have four years here at Marist. Four years is far too short to be spent doing things solely for the purpose of gaining priority points. This is the time to discover our passions and to find our true friends. It is time we restore this type of wholesome motivation to Marist College. Every action we take as students should be done with good intentions in mind, not priority points.

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