Clubs and student-run organizations are responsible for much of student and community development at the college. Clubs play an important role in helping people make friends with common interests, discover new hobbies, and diversify their resumes in ways that classes don’t always allow.
The COVID-19 pandemic has limited gathering opportunities and forced many clubs to go online, while some have suspended meetings all together. Current safety guidelines allow the campus to return to in-person instruction, so clubs are rethinking their formats for the remainder of the year and planning accordingly.
First-year nursing student Nicholas Uyeki has always had a passion for anime and wanted to share it with the Seattle University community. He was surprised that there was no anime club, so he started a new group that will return to in-person meetings soon.
“We got permission from one of the social services we use to watch anime to legally allow us to stream their stuff during our meetings, which I’m very grateful for,” Uyeki said. “We have additional activities planned in the future, such as outings, inviting panelists or guests to come and give presentations not just about the anime, but maybe about its history or culture.”
The cultural component was another thing that inspired Uyeki to bring the anime club back.
“I’m a Japanese American, so I grew up with anime. I’ve always been really fascinated by it. Anime seems limited to Japan these days, but animation itself has exploded on the international scene,” Uyeki said. “I wanted to start Anime Club because, as a freshman, I was very nervous socially and I knew there were probably other people who liked anime, but I didn’t know how to connect with them.”
Ali Nguyen, a third-year computer science major, is a member of the Vietnam Student Association (VSA) and the Society of Women Engineers. Both clubs have been online for a month, but VSA returned to campus last week. She explained some of the difficulties posed by the pandemic because in the past, casual social interaction was a big part of meetings.
“As an officer of both [clubs], it’s been quite difficult both online and in person…I would like to get to a place where I can connect with club leaders and members like it was before the pandemic, but I would say it’s been a bit difficult considering it’s less time spent with each other. With everything else online, it’s very exhausting, so when there’s a meeting, we try to make it pretty short and quick because of Zoom exhaustion,” Nguyen said.
She spoke of how her membership in these groups allowed her to explore her identity.
“I grew up in spaces where I didn’t really have the opportunity to explore my culture. Being in very white spaces, I wasn’t able to explore and accept that part of me. For VSA, coming to Seattle U and finding this club is a rediscovery of myself. A lot of the projects I do in the club are close to my heart, and that’s why I’m still part of the club and officiating,” Nguyen said.
She also noted that the Society of Women Engineers champions all underrepresented genders through the lens of STEM, not strictly women.
“My passion for championing and raising the voices of these underrepresented genders is, again, something close to my heart, which drives my work and efforts at both of my clubs,” Ngyuen said. “I want to represent those personal things as an officer.”
Before the pandemic, the fashion club was a popular and well-attended group that developed impressive zines and fashion shows at the end of each school year. Since the majority of the club’s managers graduated in 2020 and 2021, a restructuring has left the board contemplating a fresh start.
Alice Maruyama, a fourth-year psychology major, noted that while she is president on paper, her fellow board members helped her take over the club this year. Their last meeting had about 50 people.
“We feared that if no one resumes this year, no one will ever restart the club. Because of COVID-19, we chose to be a little less focused on the photo shoots, zine and fashion show,” Maruyama said. “These are all things we would still like to do, but given the COVID-19 situation, we haven’t had a lot of concrete action. We decided to maintain the club as a community for students to meet, talk about their passion and enjoy fashion. »
While students feel the pre-COVID-19 fashion club atmosphere may have been intimidating, the new focus is to create a comfortable space that fosters conversation and community.
“Personally, the fashion club, when I was in first year and even in second year, it was quite stressful to be a part of. It was intimidating to be in a space where you interact with higher classes than you look up to. My main concern for the club is to maintain a friendly environment and make it a place where people feel like they can step out of their comfort zone and make new friends,” Maruyama said.
While it is clear that all students have faced challenges due to the pandemic, one of the main elements in finding community on campus, or virtually, are student organizations. Most clubs use ConnectSU to advertise their meetings and events, so check that there is a great way to discover and join an organization.