Sibling influence in clubs: The Record

Vivien Sweet, Staff Writer

With a staff totaling over 70 editors, writers, artists, and photographers, The Record is no stranger to sibling pairs. 

By the time Record Staff Writer Bradley Bennett (11) had signed up for The Record at the clubs fair as a freshman, he had already seen his sister, former Managing Editor Betsey Bennett ‘19, rise through the ranks of The Record, which made him “more interested from the outset,” Bradley said. 

When he first started to write articles, Betsey said she showed him some old Record style sheets to go through as a checklist before sending in a first draft and gave him some tips for interviewing. Once Betsey became Managing Editor her senior year, however, Bradley worked on articles more independently, since he had already “learned the ropes,” he said.

Since the Managing Editor’s job is to assign articles to staff writers, Betsey said she was conscious not to assign Bradley more articles than any other underclassmen. “I trust that Bradley is capable of writing his own articles with his ideas, so I was not going to overstep there,” Betsey said. 

Two of Bradley’s classmates and fellow staff writers, Henry Owens (11) and Marina Kazarian (11), also had older siblings on the Executive Board of The Record, which consists of the Editor-in-Chief (EIC), Managing Editor, and Issues Editor. 

When former EIC Gustie Owens ‘18 and former Managing Editor Eve Kazarian ‘18 were seniors, they were able to see their younger freshmen siblings go through the workshops and the shadowing process to become staff writers. “We were constantly checking ourselves to be like, ‘Are we giving them really good articles? Or is it more spread out?’” Gustie said. “I think Henry would tell you he wrote his fair share of Lions Den articles his first year, which he didn’t enjoy.”

Eve and Marina often talked about Marina’s longer articles, especially concerning topics that they are both interested in, Eve said. Eve also made sure to teach Marina to find the “unique angle underlying any article,” no matter the subject matter. 

However, Marina said she did not feel pressure to become Managing Editor just because Eve was. “In general, you feel like you may have to live up to your sibling,” Marina said. “And I’ve kind of learned over time that I’m very different from Eve and that I should have my own expectations.”

Neither Bradley nor Henry are planning to follow their sisters’ footsteps as Managing Editor or EIC, respectively, as neither ended up applying for those positions. “The Record was [Gustie’s] main thing in high school, whereas for me, it’s one of a couple of things I’m involved in,” Henry said. “I would say theater is my main priority.”

Over the past three years, three out of the nine Executive Board members had younger siblings on The Record, and only one out of the nine members had an older sibling on The Record. 

The Record leadership application process, similar to that of UD Debate and MUN, is multifaceted: it involves a written application, several weeks of trying out different Editorial Board positions, and, for those applying for EIC, an interview. These “tangible” components of the application process ensure that the sibling factor does not influence any decisions, Bradley said. 

As Managing Editor, Betsey kept track of how many articles each staff writer wrote, how many press nights they attended, and the feedback their editors gave them regarding article equality and deadlines, which helped her and the EIC, Lynne Sipprelle ‘19, make their final decisions, she said. “It’s not really a surprise in a lot of cases,” Betsey said. 

When Eve and Gustie were discussing positions for next year’s Editorial Board, Eve said it was not even a consideration whether or not an applicant had an older sibling on The Record. Rather, she and Gustie placed a heavier emphasis on the written application and the applicants’ interests.

“Because there’s such a broad range of really incredible positions and ways for seniors to be involved, I don’t think anyone really felt like they hadn’t been seen in a certain way or like they weren’t being evaluated adequately,” Gustie said. 

Although Henry and his fellow staff writers made a couple of jokes about sibling nepotism on The Record, no one took the idea seriously because The Record does not have a strong history of nepotism, unlike some other clubs, he said. 

“There are definitely times where people would get leadership positions, [and] you would look back a couple years and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, their sibling was really involved in this club,’ or had the same leadership position,” Betsey said. “You wonder, was this sibling advocating behind scenes, and because they knew the current leader, were they able to somehow help their younger sibling get the position?”

However, Gustie feels that some clubs are “overly conscious” of not giving a position to someone because their sibling served in that position a couple years earlier or currently holds a leadership position. “We go to a small school with lots and lots of siblings and people are friends with tons of people—all those things happen no matter what,” Gustie said.