Nearly a year into the pandemic, social distancing guidelines and rules about how students can gather forced change among Salt Lake Community College’s many clubs.
To adapt, club leaders shifted meetings to online forums — like Zoom — and encountered advantages and difficulties. Clubs are utilizing virtual meetings as a safe alternative to in-person activities but have noticed difficulty in recruiting members.
The Creative Writing Club, founded in 2019 by Heather Graham, assignment editor for The Globe, aims to provide a space for writers to connect with one another.
“Writing shouldn’t be an isolating task,” Graham said in a video interview. “Writing comes from conversation.”
According to Graham, who is majoring in political science, the club met twice a month on campus before the pandemic, but moved meetings onto Zoom last year. Current members have only recently joined, and never attended pre-pandemic meetings.
When the club started to meet online, no one joined in initially, Graham said, noting she would often find herself alone in meetings last spring. As online meetings became the norm, however, the club gained consistency with its member attendance.
Though member numbers remained low, Graham noted that Henry Knudson had become a regular in their meetings.
“On campus would be the ideal way to do it,” said Knudson, a club member and an English major. “It still is connection and that’s important. It’s still fulfilling in that way.”
New club member Kenny Smith said attending the club meetings would not have been possible if they were still held on campus. A class scheduled during meeting times would have prevented Smith from joining the club. Due to the virtual format however, Smith watches a recording of class instead and attends meetings at their scheduled time.
Members of another SLCC club dedicated to students who plan on going into medicine also said they made changes because of the pandemic.
Erin Robison, president of the Pre-Medical Professionals Club, and member Cynthia Sharma already have bachelor’s degrees and are attending SLCC to take prerequisites for medical school. During a joint video interview, they explained that the club gives guidance on the medical school application process and helps members make connections to others in the medical field.
The club met weekly on campus but stopped abruptly when the pandemic gained traction. Sharma noted that club responsibilities fell to herself and Robison because of their dedication to medical school. During the fall 2020 semester, meetings shifted online to continue the club’s purpose of helping pre-med students. Online meetings have slowly become weekly once again.
Robison noted that recruitment is difficult amid the pandemic. According to Robison, the club relies on email lists and on professors recruiting students through word-of-mouth. The two students pushed for the club to continue because they felt that the resources provided are important for others in pre-med to access.
“[The club] helped me make connections to do research on campus, and it helped me make connections to shadow doctors,” Sharma said.
Robison said the shift to virtual meetings also brought unexpected perks. For example, the club has been able to host guest speakers from all over the country due to the online format.
Visit the SLCC Student Association for a list of active clubs and their contact information.