In Light of a Different Fall Quarter, Campus Clubs Must Adapt Their Format
By Victoria Smith Alvarez
Walla Walla University is home to over 40 clubs, from business to first nations to missions club. Since clubs were introduced to campus life, they have served as a valuable way to connect like-minded students and give them a break from the day-to-day grind of homework and classes.
This year, as with everything else, clubs have had to adapt to the massive changes WWU is going through. With the University at 50% capacity, the number of students and activities on campus are limited. This has drastically affected clubs, which rely on student participation in order to run as desired.
One of the many clubs that has been affected is the His Kids in Action Club. This group gathers willing students to put on weekly Sabbath afternoon programs for underprivileged children in the Walla Walla community. Club presidents Darius Felder and Joseph Santana have had to adapt the program to adhere to the COVID-19 safety regulations of the University and the Walla Walla County.
“Yes, COVID has brought challenges to our program,” Felder shares, “but it gave us the opportunity to adapt in ways that were unimaginable.” Due to the active and personal nature of the His Kids programs, moving it to an online format has been difficult, but not impossible. Instead of in-person programs, events have shifted to delivering packages and hosting online movie nights.
“We miss seeing the kids’ bright and smiling faces on Sabbath afternoons,” says Felder, “but we are blessed with the new opportunities to serve the children in new and innovative ways.” 
Madison Boskind, chemistry club president and PR officer for the village club, has also found it difficult to adapt to the new format.
“One of the rules for clubs this year is that we have to accommodate both those on and off campus, which forces us to be online,” said Boskind, “it has been hard to get students excited about virtual events especially since we are already spending most of the day online.”
Boskind finds that for the most part, participation in clubs has decreased. Officers are constantly having to come up with innovative ideas that every person can take part in, but there is only so much that can be done due to limited resources and restrictions established by the school.
Another hurdle clubs are facing is working with a limited budget. “Since spring quarter was completely online, Chemistry Club was unable to do their biggest event from which we get a majority of our funds, thus forcing us to work with less money,” Boskind shares. Also, “proposals for events have to [be] submitted further in advance than before because the approval process takes longer. Honestly, everything about [running a club in this setting] is difficult.” 
However, not all clubs have been able to implement innovative strategies that fit with the current situation. Many clubs struggle planning events when half their members are not in the Walla Walla area. Member numbers and participation are down, which is understandable in such a complicated time.
Kelsey Bitton, French club president, made the hard decision, along with her team, to discontinue their club for fall quarter: “Many of our activities are modeled around French culture, which is very personal and based around friends and food. Our events are very hands-on, like French bread-making night and French dinner at our sponsor’s house.”
Bitton shares, “We can’t really capture the spirit of French club with online events, so we decided to spend this quarter planning for Winter. Hopefully things will be back to normal, but even if not, we will come back ready with brand new ideas and events.” 
The most difficult part of running a club this quarter is not knowing what to expect in the future. But despite all the setbacks, clubs are developing new programs and ways to provide services and interactions for students, even at a distance.
If COVID-19 and its restrictions continue, campus clubs will continue to find new methods to engage students. Procedures are still being tried and tested in this uncertain environment. There is no doubt that club leaders will continue to strive and find new ways to make a positive impact, not only in the lives of students, but the WWU community as a whole.
Clubs still offer a wealth of support and encouragement, whether it’s through giveaways or online events. Although there’s no way to know what the future will hold, WWU’s clubs will hold strong. Why not sign up for one today?
- Interview with Darius Felder, 11/4/2020.
- Interview with Madison Boskind, 11/4/2020.
- Interview with Kelsey Bitton, 10/30/2020.