Douglas College to host virtual club days this week
By Jessica Berget, Assistant Editor
Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the winter, Douglas College cancelled all in-person classes and is now preparing to allow a limited number of both students and employees on campus for the fall semester. With few people on campus, how do collectives that rely on in-person interaction and meetings at school function when the campus is closed? What happens to the clubs of Douglas College when nobody is on campus?
As soon as the outbreak cancelled in-person classes, many clubs made the choice to hold virtual meetings, with varying degrees of success. The DSU Debates Club (DDC) found it worked well for them: “It has forced us to adapt, but it has benefited nicely for us. We have been able to structure the club in a new way that works very well for us. We even created club guidelines and set rules to ensure it is a safe environment for our club members in an online environment,” said Tyler Sullivan, president of the DDC. Another issue raised was the difficulty of getting new student engagement: “Spreading the word through the college in-person was very easy, but now we are limited on how to get the word out about our club to all college students who may be interested in joining,” said Sullivan.
However, while the DDC thrived with online meetings, other clubs found them more of a challenge; the DSU Board Games Club was one such group: “We used to do many meetings in real life with great levels of attendance. Unfortunately, COVID affected that.” But that didn’t stop the club from doing what they love. “Accessibility was difficult to adapt at first, but the transition was fine after a while,” said Jerson Sabio, the Board Games Club Executive. He also says the club will be back on Discord this fall playing a variety of online games.
The DSU FOCUS (Friends of Overseas College and University Students) Club chimed in on the matter: “It helps cut down some cost for food and stuff, but also decreases the fun and joy when we can really see each other.” The DSU Comedy Club also describe the challenges they’ve encountered with hosting online meetings. “Performing improv games has always been a highlight of our meetings—they don’t all translate well to video conferencing, though. We also used to focus on stand-up comedy material for each other with the end goal of a stand-up showcase to wrap up each semester. We had to cancel a show being planned for March. Now, our meetings are rather casual and mainly consist of online party games that reveal our improv skills and astute witticisms,” said club president Michele Provenzano.
Some clubs are easier than others to conduct online, and no one can attest to the struggles of that more than the DSU Ultimate Frisbee Club. Since social distancing was encouraged, the club met rarely in the summer, and when they did, they took precautions. Sanitizing before and after games, staying distanced on defence, and keeping the groups small were among the safety measures they took. Unfortunately for a new club like theirs, COVID-19 has not given them the opportunity to have many meetings with a club representative stating: “We have not been able to go out and play the sport that we love. This has been the case since March.”
The DSU FOCUS Club also followed precautions they took for their initial in-person meetings: “For a few small gatherings we had, we met outdoors while social distancing with hand sanitizers, masks, and no sharing of food whatsoever.” The DSU Comedy Club remains optimistic about the future though: “There’s something to be missed about being in the same room as your audience, connected without lag. However, we’re evolving, trying new things, and not forcing what worked in real life to work online. Some things have even changed in a positive way. Schedules are more flexible since COVID-19 started and connecting with friends on a weekly basis is more rewarding than ever. We’re all looking for an excuse to laugh right now,” said Provenzano.
One thing remains unchanged for all—the clubs’ struggle to get new members. Thankfully, the DSU will be holding the first ever virtual club days via Zoom on September 16 and 17 from 5 to 7 pm, where students can find out more about the clubs that interest them.