CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / THE SPUTNIK PHOTOGRAPHY
Beyond the obvious negative effects that being forced to earn our university degrees from our bedrooms has had on all of us, the pandemic has resulted in an overlooked yet equally unfortunate consequence: a complete lack of student enthusiasm for online clubs.
The recruitment, involvement, and enjoyment of extracurriculars have dramatically decreased since classes at Laurier Brantford moved online.
As a project manager for Laurier Brantford’s Enactus chapter, it has been challenging to spark any enthusiasm even among long-time members. Recruiting new students, particularly first years, has proved to be even more difficult.
The lifeless state of many clubs in the age of COVID-19 begs the questions, what does it even mean to be part of a school community anymore?
Normally, clubs provide immense social support and level of connectivity within the school community, not to mention a chance to improve skills and explore passions. This all seems to be lost in these times of stay-at-home orders and Zoom calls.
Presently, life as a university student feels dull, disconnected, and lonely. We are each isolated to our bedrooms, basements, or home offices. We wake up, log into our classes, maybe work on a few assignments, and then we go back to sleep just to repeat the cycle the next day.
As someone who lived at home and commuted during my first year, the feeling of isolation from my campus is not foreign to me. However, the only thing that helped me to find my place within the school environment and gain any sense of belonging among my peers was joining clubs and going to events.
Since I lived at home, I could not rely on the convenient situation of living in residence to form friendships and adapt to university life. Almost every relationship I have formed at Laurier Brantford has been with someone I was in a club with, or someone I met through a fellow club member.
It is quite depressing to think about how much bleaker my life would be if I had not been inclined to join any extracurriculars in my first year. It is even more depressing to remember that any clubs that I’m currently a member of, seem to have been gutted of all joy and purpose since last March.
But what exactly is the reason for all of this? Why the widespread lack of enthusiasm?
Speaking from personal experience, adapting to online school has been exhausting in its unprecedented-ness. Most students feel like the adjustment requires taking on a larger workload and feel they either cannot spare the time or the effort that an extracurricular requires.
Additionally, no matter how good we know club involvement can be for our socialization and our mental health, most of us will not throw ourselves into the uncharted waters of the online club experience out of fear of the unknown. Maybe we just don’t feel like we will get as much out of clubs in an online format? Maybe Zoom meetings will make introducing ourselves to and interacting with our fellow club members ten times more awkward than it would be under normal circumstances? I believe these uncertainties are some of the contributing factors to the current apathetic attitudes from students towards clubs.
Regardless, the level of connectivity, comfort and tight-knit social support which once characterised the Laurier Brantford campus seems to have disappeared along with concerts, commutes, and “precedented times.”
With Laurier announcing a likely return to campus for students this September, we can only hope that the enthusiasm for our campus clubs will make a comeback too.