Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Rules of Admission

I've been watching a battle brewing in one of my Facebook groups recently.  Called the Naval Officers Spouse Club, this is a group that was originally created as a place for the spouses of U.S. Navy Officers to seek advice and share information about this crazy lifestyle we all lead.  Because it is an open group, meaning anyone can view its content, for privacy reasons I never post; rather I use the page as a resource.  After all I'm not the first nor will I be the last spouse with a particular question.  Despite its openness to the rest of the cyber universe, the page does provide a wealth of information about living at various places across the world, the inside scoop for ensuring that a move goes smoothly, and other minute details that only fellow Navy spouses can know about or understand.  Membership seems to be on the honor system and I have seen posts that make me question whether or not someone truly belongs in the group but perhaps that is just me.  It is the group's growing membership where the recent problem lies:  a non-officer spouse has asked to join the membership ranks and this has rankled some members.  Upon receiving the request the group's members immediately entered into a debate of the merits of allowing an enlisted spouse to join an officer spouse group. Inevitably the conversation became the ago old military one of officer versus enlisted.  To me, that debate is irrelevant.  The real question is one that transcends far beyond this virtual group and into every day sticks and bricks life:  if a privately (funded) organization has created rules about who can and cannot participate in their activities, why is there such a push to question eligibility and ask for exceptions?

I personally would never dream of asking to join a group or organization that I clearly was not qualified to be a part of.  But then again, I strongly believe that rules are rules, they are created for a reason, and they should never be broken.  However, sometimes I wonder if I am in the minority with this line of thinking.  I see the challenging of such rules in action everyday.  Parents routinely ask for their too young or too old children to be able to participate in a sporting event for which the organizers have set age limits; school districts that have clear residency requirements are challenged to allow non-residents admission; and yes, social clubs that cater to a specific audience, whether it be military spouse groups, boy scout packs, or country clubs all get challenged to make exceptions to their admissions policies.  If we start making exceptions it begs the question of why have rules in the first place?

Too many times these issues become personal.  Someone will advocate that their friend is nice and should be allowed to join the club.  Unless being nice is clearly defined as a criteria for joining, why is that even entering into the discussion?  If you make one exception, where do you draw the line? When you reach someone who isn't so nice?  As is the case with most things, once you start down that slippery slope you can rarely return to where you started from.  By saying no to the exception you aren't judging one's "niceness" factor; rather you are judging them on the basis of their clear eligibility criteria. If you don't meet it you can't join; if you can, welcome aboard.  The concept really isn't that difficult.  But then again, I am a rule follower.

Meanwhile, over on Facebook the debate continues. I don't know where it will end up but one thing is guaranteed, the group will be polarized by the whole situation and I'm not sure that is in any one's best interest.  See what happens when someone tries to bend the rules?


  1. I agree with you. Why have rules if people are so quick to make exceptions and break them? Seems silly to me too.


  2. I agree for the most part. But, the Boy Scouts excluding gays and atheists doesn't seem to be based on what their membership should be. just saying.