Part of the reason students apply to Harvey Mudd College is because of their access to the 5C consortium — specifically, for example, student clubs. If Mudders feel that a club they want to join in HMC is too small or doesn’t exist, they can search for a 5C club that fills that gap. Most of the time, they’re able to find a club that does, but with a caveat: Mudders are a nearly nonexistent minority within it.
As a first-year at Mudd, I’m in a similar situation. Scouting out the clubs at the club fair, many 5C clubs intrigued me, whether it was radio, kombucha club, consultancy, artificial intelligence or TSL. The consortium resources had thus come in handy; whatever interest I had that wasn’t represented at Mudd, I could easily find in the general 5Cs.
However, upon joining clubs like TSL and Pomona Consulting Group, I quickly discovered that the number of Mudders taking advantage of these resources were negligible. When attending the info sessions for the 5C newspaper, I was the only Mudder in attendance, and even now, finding other Mudders on staff is a rare occurrence — statistically, 3 percent of the staff comes from Mudd. Similarly, at a social event for a 5C consulting group, it was understandably assumed that I was from Pomona College. Looking around, I couldn’t find a single other consultant from Mudd.
Importantly, I’m not blaming the small Mudd to non-Mudd ratio on clubs; it’s perfectly understandable, considering Mudd is rather small and far more STEM-oriented than any other 5C. Thus, it simply turns out that the non-STEM clubs in the 5Cs naturally have fewer Mudders, making them a clear minority. To be clear, this isn’t the result of a faulty selection process or the isolating behaviors of 5C club members. In fact, I’ve felt very welcomed when joining 5C clubs, many of which are excited to be joined by new Mudders.
As a result, a big reason why there are so few Mudders in off-campus clubs may simply be due to fear and perceived stigma. In other words, if Mudders know that few of their peers are in 5C clubs, they may be afraid to join because they would be surrounded by unfamiliar people. In their heads, while others are bonding over Pomona or Pitzer College struggles, they think they’ll feel left out — and therefore choose not to join the club in the first place.
However, such fears are often unwarranted. As mentioned before, clubs have been highly welcoming of Mudders in my experience, often seeking them out because they join so rarely. Once Mudd students overcome the mental block and join a 5C club they’re interested in, they’d undoubtedly discover that they’re enjoying themselves. This would kickstart a virtuous cycle, where more Mudders joining definitionally reduces the fear of being alone for other Mudders considering joining the club, thus fixing the Mudd to non-Mudd ratio. 5C STEM clubs on campus like P-ai are already reaping the benefits of this diversity, where members of each college contribute their own unique perspectives that enrich the experiences of all involved.
Ultimately, Mudders shouldn’t let their fears prevent them from pursuing a subject they’re passionate about. Instead, they should courageously join the clubs that spark their interest, knowing that they’d be welcomed in clubs even where the Mudd population is small. On the flip side, 5C clubs should specifically encourage Mudd participation, thus making it clear that their membership is welcome and significant. Whether it’s through increasing advertising on the Mudd campus or asking existing Mudders to recruit friends, there are various ways in which Mudd participation can be boosted, bringing new perspectives to 5C clubs. Once Mudders do join, these clubs should make an effort to be inclusive to all schools, ensuring that everyone is comfortable and feels like they belong. With these suggestions in mind, 5C clubs can enjoy the perks of a diverse community — and maybe I’ll even have a few more Mudd friends here at TSL!
Serena Mao HM ’25 is from Fremont, California. She’s hyped to be writing about TSL in TSL.