As Mr. Downing’s email about clubs settles in our inboxes, being slowly suffocated by accidental reply-alls, Teams notifications, and calendar invites, we should take a moment and consider how clubs, like most activities, will be affected by the pandemic. Will they return to in-person meetings? How has club attendance been affected? Tatler interviewed Mr. Downing, Student Government Advisor, about clubs online.
Whereas most sports have been heavily affected, sometimes cancelled, and classes continue in an altered Zoom environment, clubs are diverse enough that no one universal solution exists. Moreover, when asked about how clubs might meet up in blended learning, Mr. Downing said, “I think clubs will meet remotely while the school is in that particular mode.” Some clubs, like last year’s Global Dance club or the Bellas and Acafellas, will face greater challenges due their activities, which are best done in-person, whereas others, like Anime Club or Puzzles & Games, might only have to make slight adjustments. However, there is hope for all clubs, as Mr. Downing feels that there aren’t any clubs that have to be in person. Stud Gov hopes, he says, that “the number of clubs offered remotely matches the robust number in previous years.”
For example, the Chess team has only had to make minor changes to their activities, using Chess.com instead of physical chess boards. Similarly, Anime Club, Gaming Club, and other clubs with transferrable activities could theoretically just port their activities online and host a Zoom call. Music related activities like Concert Band class or the Bellas and Acafellas used to face insurmountable challenges in timing and rhythm online, but Bandlab and other tools have stepped up, allowing for music to spread virtually. So the problem of hosting club activities online exists, but with proper preparation and flexibility, most clubs have been able to survive.
But it isn’t just the clubs themselves that must change and adapt. Lakeside’s Clubs Fair is also a tradition that Lakesiders appreciate. It happens at the start of each year, and presents the conventional group advertising of various activities through the food bribes that pervade clubs and activities at Lakeside. Many people, when asked about the Clubs Fair, confess that they signed up for most of their clubs just to snag a donut or boba.
However, this year, there will be no Clubs Fair, no pizza, donuts, ice cream, or cookie dough, as Student Government has decided to host Clubs Fair asynchronously. If that means that each club will send out an email advertising themselves, students may be left crawling through their Outlook, looking for a club that fits them, missing out on the convenience and ambience of Clubs Fair. They may not be presented with all the options for clubs like they would in Clubs Fair, and clubs themselves may lose an invaluable opportunity to gain members. But who knows? Asynchronous Clubs Fair may just be another challenge of blended learning that clubs will have to face.
However, the club leaders handling these issues are no strangers to challenge. Running a club successfully comes with its own set of obstacles, including organizing and planning activities, raising and accounting for funds, and persuading people to join and incentivizing them to stay. So regardless of the difficulties posed by COVID-19, clubs and Lakesiders will find a way to adapt.