Clubs in COVID: Leaders adapt their clubs to a ‘unique’ year


Photo credit: Jenn Babin

In preparation for the club fair on September 25, a Padlet was created where leaders could promote their offerings. Clubs have had to adapt to the stresses and virtual demands of 2020 when planning their first meetings.

By Rio Hundley, Features Editor

As the 2020-2021 school year hits its stride, clubs are just beginning. The club fair, where students browse clubs and sign up for mailing lists, occurred virtually Friday, September 25.

Archer clubs are split into two categories: AAA (Alliance, Affinity and Activism) and Interest (Clubs without a direct identity-based mission). Junior Evan Bowman, a leader of Archer’s Black Student Union (BSU) believes that AAA clubs are particularly important in a year like 2020.

“We’re all becoming a lot more aware of our national scene. It’s important to have a place to process that and as BSU we really want to educate the community and help people learn more about race and the racial issues in our country,” Bowman said. “[We want to show] how you can be an ally and be a support, and to provide a place for for the Black girls at our school to come and process all of this.”

However, AAA club leaders have been “worried” about how to initiate difficult conversations on a virtual platform.

“It’s much harder to be vulnerable and have difficult conversations over Zoom, but I think we just want to try our best to make a comfortable space,” senior and Mental Health Club leader Maggie O’Leary said. “ I think one of the most important things is building norms. I think that just sets a good precedent for the whole year about ‘What do we want a conversation to look like? What do we want the space to look like?'”

Interest clubs, like the newly formed Anime Club, have a slightly different mission for this year. The leaders, including senior Bey Weston hope their club can be “a little break” from more serious parts of the day.

“Everything is really high tension right now and honestly I think it’s a lot for our generation to be going through,” senior and fellow club leader Alexa Batty said. “I think Anime Club and just [interest clubs] in general are kind of vital right now. They create a space where people can jump in with a bunch of girls they may not necessarily know and build connections and be social. I just think that emotional connection is something that a lot of people are really lacking right now and it’s definitely what people need the most right now.”

Whether their club is considered interest or AAA, leaders have been brainstorming new ways to adapt to 2020’s stressors and facilitate connection over Zoom.

“We also want to look at social issues in the lens of mental health,” O’Leary said of her club. “Looking at how discrimination affects mental health levels or talking about institutions that perpetuate suicide rates or activism burnout.”

For a niche interest like anime, which Weston said can have “stigma” attached, leaders are trying to create a more welcoming environment for introverted students in particular.

“We included our signup sheet in the [club fair] Padlet. So not everyone who signed up came to the Zoom initially, which we were very okay with,” Batty said. “That was something we supported because we know it’s kind of awkward to come into Zoom by yourself to see a bunch of club leaders. … We wanted to make it easier for girls to sign up without having to show up alone.”

Leaders of this years’ clubs like Bowman are “hoping” that people will take the time to try out their offerings and attend a meeting.

“I really hope people are able to show up through Zoom, and I know it can be hard, especially since we have a shorter lunch period this year,” Bowman said. “But I hope people will still make the effort to come because we’ll make it worth it.”