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Club Spotlight: Clubs are returning to in-person meetings.

Throughout the month of January, clubs were no longer allowed to meet in-person on Eastern’s campus. At first, the moratorium on in-person events was only meant to last the first week; however, it was quickly extended twice more through communications sent to club leaders. 

As of Jan. 31, clubs are now allowed to meet in-person again. The current guidelines limit groups to roughly fifty students, and participants are required to be masked at all times. However, for many students, the uncertainty around clubs has still not ended. Additionally, commuters are still not allowed in any dorm buildings for club functions, limiting the spaces where club meetings can be held if they want to be commuter-accessible. Many virtual clubs have reported lower attendance, and it’s no surprise. While Zoom has been a boon in many ways, it can also be deeply exhausting to stare at a screen for another hour. Rather than being sources of community and ways to interact with new people, virtual clubs are often just one more chore.

Hopefully, with the in-person ban lifted, clubs can regain some of their floundering attendance rates. Many clubs are interacting with students on social media, and Eastern’s newsletter and app for clubs keeps students in the loop regarding goings-on on campus. While clubs are not dead by any stretch of the imagination, COVID certainly has impacted their reach and their place in campus life.

Campus organizations have long been areas where students can relax and destress, get involved in ways that can build their resumes and experience, and make new friends and interact with others outside their classes. Sense of belonging is one of the key factors in students’ mental health, according to a paper published in the Journal of Adolsecent Health, and clubs are a key part of creating and maintaining that sense of belonging.

Now that clubs are back to being in-person, it’s worth checking one or two out again! In addition to the Weekly Happenings newsletter, students can also check out the Clubs and Organizations sector under Student Life on the Eastern website, and the Waltonian features articles on clubs regularly. If you’ve been thinking about joining a club, now is the perfect time to do it.

Sources: College students’ sense of belonging related to mental health during pandemic | SSRI COVID-19 Resources (psu.edu)

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