Spring is an important time for clubs to host outdoor events, fundraise and prepare for fall. In the midst of remote learning, clubs are forced to come up with creative ways to continue meeting and close out the school year.
Jennifer Cook, Western’s club activities manager, said in an email that clubs have been encouraged to stay connected during the time of remote learning.
“The Club Hub staff has been researching the variety of ways to do this, including putting on virtual events in order to assist clubs,” she said.
The club activities office staff is continuing to advise student clubs through Microsoft Team calls. The Western Involvement Network is being utilized for club resources, hosting documents, forms and news available to club officers and members. Cook said clubs can advertise meetings and activities, make posts and share photos through the Western Involvement Network’s website. She encouraged clubs to remain active on social media to connect and promote online meetings and activities.
The shift to online meeting platforms has led to changes in club organization, exchanging face-to-face activities for new opportunities.
“It seems that students are simply burnt out right now with virtual meetings because everything is run that way now,” Cook said. “If we can find a way to make it fun and exciting, club meetings and activities can be a stress relief after classes instead of adding on to this new norm.”
Third-year student Payton Johnson, president of Western’s professional development club Alpha Kappa Psi, has used virtual meetings as an opportunity to reach out to club alumni. Johnson said spring is the club’s busiest quarter, filled with volunteering and organizing events on campus. The club’s previous chapter meetings were times to interact with each other, spending time in committees and planning events.
“Since switching over to Zoom, we aren’t able to do a lot of the events we had planned this quarter,” she said. “But since we don’t have those things to do, I decided to reach out to club alumni.” She said that each week, a past member does a presentation during their Zoom meeting on topics centered around interview and professional skills.
Fourth-year Nate Lynch joined Alpha Kappa Psi in the fall.
“The biggest thing for our club that is important is the networking aspect,” he said. “[Distance] has made it more difficult to interact with one another and other business professionals.”
He said the weekly Zoom meetings, presentations and opportunities to meet in smaller groups are still giving him the chance to learn business skills and connect with his peers.
Third-year student Nathan Shepard, president of the poetry and lyric club at Western, said that his club is not sure how to approach meeting this quarter.
“We’ve been kind of left in the blank really … in terms of just where to proceed and how to effectively operate as a club in this kind of new system that we’ve found ourselves in,” he said.
Most of the club’s activities are done through in-person meetings and interactions. Shepard said his club is not meeting while he adjusts to his new schedule but he has contacted past club members for recommendations on moving forward.
Shepard hopes that even though they are not meeting, club members are still able to write poetry.
“I hope people can have time to translate what they’re thinking and feeling into some good work,” he said.
As for the future of the club, Shepard said it would be nice to meet on Zoom. He said despite their lack of meeting, he is confident there will always be a community of poets at Western.
Johnson said Alpha Kappa Psi initiated 20 members through its pledge training process last quarter but new members haven’t had the opportunity to understand how the club operates.
“They’re just going straight into this online world that none of us are used to,” she said. “But an important thing to me has been trying to make them feel like they’re still important to the club.”
Johnson said that the physical distance and virtual meetings aren’t the same as the group’s typical, in-person chapter meetings.
“We’re a very close-knit club, even though there’s a lot of us,” she said. The organization has 83 members who meet more than once per week.
Johnson said despite the challenges, the switch to virtual meetings hasn’t decreased club participation.
Cook said it is important for clubs to stay connected because they are one of the ways students make connections outside of the classroom and de-stress.
“We need to stay connected and know we are not alone,” she said. “We need an outlet to be ourselves.”