New Classical Society Aims To Revamp Classics At BC

The BC Classical Society's logo./Courtesy of Paulina Gajewski

By Serin Sarsour


   Exploring the roots of the Greeks and Romans through history, literature, science, and more, the Classics Department at Brooklyn College is one that not many students are aware of. However, the new Classical Society on campus is looking to change that for good.

   Reeba Butt, the Society’s president and a senior at BC majoring in classics, explained that her motivation to co-create the club was the desire to lead the discourse surrounding the department and what it has to offer. “With any major in the humanities field, people are fueled by intellectual curiosity more than anything else, and I wanted people from any major to explore that and nurture that curiosity,” she said. “Classics combines language, history, literature, and philosophy, so you get the best of all worlds. You’d be surprised at how many people have engaged in the discipline without even knowing.”

   A common misconception that comes with the idea of joining the Society is that members must be well-versed in all things classics. However, there are no requirements to join the club and all levels of knowledge of classics are welcome, even if that is little to no knowledge.

   “The Classical Society aims to have a group of diverse individuals who are passionate about classics but also people who know absolutely nothing,” Butt said.

   Another member of the Society’s e-board is Paulina Gajewski, the club’s vice president and a BC junior majoring in education, history, and classics. Gajewski and her peers realized the potential of the Classics Department last spring after holding a retirement party for JoAnn Luhrs, a now-retired classics professor.

   “I always felt that the Classics Department had so much to offer in terms of education, but not as much in terms of student engagement,” said Gajewski. “A club would be the perfect thing to tackle that issue.”

   One interesting component of the Society, in particular, is the presence of a Classics Book Club. The person who will be hosting the book club is Loralei Sirota, a senior at BC majoring in political science with a minor in classics. Named as the club librarian, Sirota will select the books that the members will read.

   “My passion for classics was sparked when I took Professor Luhrs’ Classics 1010 class last year. I’d always had a love for Greek and Roman mythology, but I didn’t know that was actually part of a field of study,” Sirota said.

   As the BC community is still adjusting to campus life after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Classical Society aims to help create a larger student presence, which can be difficult since Brooklyn College is a commuter school. Fostering a safe space for students outside of the classroom is extremely important to the members of the Classics Club.

   In an attempt to somewhat mimic the Classics Department, the club also hopes to make the department and the general field of classics more diverse. “Classics are also associated with old, white, affluent men, which can also deter people,” said Butt. “However, as a Muslim Pakistani-American who does not come from wealth, my goal is to show everyone that classics can be something anyone can do. We want to make it fun, engaging, and accessible for everyone.”

   Although the club still has to wait another few weeks to be officially registered as a club at BC, several events are already in the works. One of them being a collaboration with the Classics Department where students can build a large model of the Colosseum with legos, along with trivia and movie nights. These events are planned to generally be held at the Costas Library located in Boylan Hall Room 2405. Those interested in keeping up with the club and its events can follow @bc_classicalsociety on Instagram.

   “I hope we are successful with all the goals we have. I had an idea about what I wanted this club to be and I hope that I can see it play out. We are just hoping that there’s a community built on intellectual curiosity and passion,” said Butt, noting that long-term success comes from an environment that is inclusive and welcoming.