A student using a Macbook. Image courtesy of the public domain.

Clubs Persevere in the Virtual School Environment

Throughout the past academic year most Frederick Community College instruction has been held in a virtual format. With an absence of students on campus, it set a new challenge for clubs to maintain engagement with the Frederick community. 

To get further insight, I contacted the Coordinator of Student Leadership and Service, Jennifer Moxley, who gave me her opinion on how the clubs were able to manage in the online environment. Moxley expressed, “Despite the many challenges our students have faced, they have demonstrated tremendous perseverance and resilience.”

The vision of the Center for Student Engagement (which clubs fall under) has stayed the same despite the virtual format. Moxley said, “The mission of our office is to offer students opportunities to engage, connect, and grow during their journey at FCC and this past year has been an adjustment for everyone.”

Most programming has traditionally been held in-person, Moxley said, “We had to be creative and flexible to create opportunities to connect virtually by learning new online platforms and communicating to the student body how to access information online.”

Maintaining communication is an essential component to a club’s ability to engage. Moxley mentioned, “Our club leaders utilized different virtual platforms to stay connected with students including Zoom, Blackboard Collaborate, and Microsoft Teams.” They also used the weekly email NewsBlast to keep students informed about upcoming events. 

With twelve active clubs, some of the offered initiatives this year have been: sewing face masks for healthcare workers, virtual health professions panels, Earth Day tote bags with do-it-yourself painting kits and pots, a virtual cookie making demonstration, open mic nights, virtual game nights, and resourceful virtual workshops.

In addition to Moxley’s position within the Center for Student Engagement, she is also the advisor of the Student Government Association (SGA). The SGA was able to provide weekly virtual social hours to offer a place for students to connect with one another. Moxley added, “A positive impact of this online format is that we have been able to engage with FCC students who do not live close to campus.” 

I was also able to speak with various club leaders at an SGA meeting, where many of them shared with me their experiences in the virtual environment as they reflected on the school year. 

Many clubs set themselves up so that they provide resourceful material, but also serve as a place to collaborate with like-minded students. President of the Student Government Association, Emma Wachter said, “Clubs serve as a more casual outlet for students to relax and take a break from classes.”

Secretary of the STEM club, Alan Wheelan said “We started doing game nights where we awarded gift cards as prizes.” Wheelan believed that incentives were better able to help his club encourage attendance and continue with real club activities. 

Vice President of the Biology and Pre-Health club, Christina Sherwood said, “It was really important for us to advertise by spreading the word (particularly through social media) in order to have a successful meeting.” Sherwood acknowledged that most people are just not aware that a meeting is taking place therefore, they do not attend. 

Ambassador of the Honors Student Association, Jazlynn Aguon said, “The college mostly markets towards people on campus, we do not always acknowledge people off campus or online.” Aguon favors the transition in that she believes it forced club leaders to think about those other students and how to better engage with them. 

Although clubs were thrown a curveball with the online school environment, with the support of the Center for Student Engagement and club advisors, many leaders were able to persevere while still providing students with engaging outlets.

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