Western Washington University students attended the Spring Club Showcase in the Viking Union multipurpose room on May 17.
Students explained the importance of in-person clubs on campus. Joining clubs gives students the opportunity to find others with similar interests to themselves.
According to Club Outreach and Promotion Coordinator, Jacob O’Donnell, clubs have remained helpful for students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We saw over the pandemic that the importance and value of clubs does not diminish when they're not in person, but being in an in-person club does have some advantages: a wider range of possible activities to enjoy together, a more intimate group setting, less burnout or Zoom fatigue and spaces that are more conducive to conversation and bonding than the online environment,” O’Donnell said. “A lot of clubs maintain both a strong in-person presence and online presence. Discord and Instagram are the most popular ways to do this.”
Ruby Philp, a third-year student, explained that from running Western's plant club she made many wonderful connections with others who enjoy plants as much as she does. She said the plant club acts as a half-hobby and half-social club.
“People lost so much social time due to school being shut out and online, so it’s just nice to kind of reenter society and socialize with people who have similar interests to you,” Philp said. “The passion there kind of shines through. It’s fun to be around people who are excited about the same things as you.
Philp said she intended to join a plant club at school, but discovered that there no longer was one. After some deliberation, she decided to just go for it and begin the process of starting a new club on campus.
She explained the steps she took.
“The people who work in the club hub, they are just amazing, specifically Jen Cooke,” Philp said. “I came in and she walked me through the whole process. It was pretty straightforward and less challenging than I expected. So, now my whole thing is when people are like, ‘I wish there was a club for this,’ I say, ‘just start one, it’s not as hard as you think.’”
Kasey Lee, Associated Students project manager and event coordinator, highlighted the importance of getting specific with clubs.
“All students have a variety of interests and having multiple clubs with diverse interests makes it easier for all students to find a place to call home,” Lee said. “It's hard to connect with students in classes sometimes because of the daily rush, which means it's a bit harder to really figure out what other people like and if those interests are in common with mine. Club meetings or club spaces, which are places to foster conversations, are just a good way to start conversations easier.”
O’Donnell explained that students can find anything they need to know about clubs through the Western Involvement Network. Most clubs hold events and use applications like Discord, social media and email chains to get their information out to the public.
“We have over 200+ clubs and they cover just about every interest area and identity group, so students are bound to find something that interests them and if not, they can start another club through the Club Activities Office,” O’Donnell said.
Jessica Preston, a fourth-year student and co-founder of the EUA (English Undergraduate Association), said that it has been a great resource for herself and others in Western’s English Department. She highlighted the lack of resources available for the major and how this club has been able to bring a lot more of that in.
She explained why being a part of a club holds importance.
“[Joining a club is] what creates some really great memories in your college experience,” Preston said. “Just being able to get to know some really cool people, expand your knowledge and have a place where you can come talk to like-minded people. I think it’s important to be a point of reassurance for each other.”
Fellow co-founder of the EUA Robert Clifton, a fourth-year student, highlighted how COVID-19 has played a role.
“We were isolated from each other for two years, and I think it is now more important than ever that people reach out to each other and socialize,” Clifton said. “Clubs are very important socially right now.”
O’Donnell detailed the resources students have at Western.
“Anyone with questions about clubs are more than welcome to visit the Club Hub, [the Club Activities Office], between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday,” O’Donnell said. “We have very friendly staff who love to ask questions and hang out with new people.”
Sophie Kashman (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front. She is currently a second-year student and majoring in Theatre Performance as well as a pre-major in Journalism with a focus in public relations. Some of her hobbies include, play/songwriting, singing, art, and hiking.
You can reach her at email@example.com or on Instagram @sophie_kashman.