Clubs Resume Meetings In Person

The administration recently announced a reintroduction of in-person club meetings with a few new protocols and restrictions to monitor the spread of COVID.

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By Kate Alvarez

After a four-month hiatus due to a resurgence in COVID cases, in-person meetings for clubs and after school activities resumed. In-person meetings are permitted as of March 27, regardless of whether or not a faculty advisor is present. Club leaders and members alike have expressed both excitement and concerns regarding the reinstatement of non-virtual meetings.

The decision to bring back in-person meetings was one made by the Student Union and school administration. “We talked with the administration [...] and we think having the option to do in-person is very valuable to many club leaders and participants,” Student Union Vice President Ryan Lee said. “Stuy has this incredible thing where a lot of things are student-built from all the different clubs and other activities. I think that’s something that everybody in Stuy would agree they want to see again.”

Overall, students supported the decision while acknowledging the usefulness of remote meetings in certain situations. In addition, many were optimistic about the opportunities that a mix of both online and in-person meetings could afford to clubs. “Overall, I think it’s up to the clubs, and things can work on a case-by-case basis. Some clubs might be better off online, while others prefer in-person, both of which are fine,” sophomore Andrew Park said.

To ensure that clubs transitioned to in-person meetings safely, existing rules were emphasized and a few new restrictions were put in place. For example, club leaders are to reserve a room in advance and are required to have a faculty adviser if they have a meeting after 5:00 p.m. or are meeting in a room outside of an approved list. To better monitor the spread of COVID, a mandatory attendance form for clubs was introduced. “We have this attendance form that’s been working very well and [is] helping the administration like keeping track of close contacts,” Lee said.

However, these restrictions can cause confusion for both club leaders and members. “Sometimes you’ll reserve a room but you can’t actually get the room because of ARISTA meetings or something else, so you have to go to some random room and people wouldn’t know where to go,” junior and President of StuyChem Sheikh Alif said.

Even with the option to return to in-person meetings, however, some students expressed their fondness for the ease of both creating online meetings and attending them. “More people [...] come to the virtual ones because they’re a lot more accessible and there’s a lot less pressure to stay after school,” Alif said.

Freshman and co-president of Fiscus, a club dedicated to giving back to the community through education and finance, Ashley Lo shared similar observations while emphasizing the convenience afforded by online meetings that was not attainable with in-person meetings. “I think online meetings were more frequent because it was easier for kids to meet online: just setting a time and date,” Lo said.

While virtual meetings have their benefits, many students expressed their preference for in-person activities instead because of the interactiveness in-person experiences come with. “Online club meetings were engaging, but since the club I mainly participate in, Model UN, is speech-based and more dynamic, it was hard to capture the same feeling from an online meeting,” Park said.

Sophomore Yuri Wang shared similar sentiments regarding the lack of engagement at online meetings compared to in-person ones. “On Zoom, most participants have their camera off [...] and I [lose] focus more easily. It kind of [feels] like attending a class rather than a club activity,” Wang said.

An online setting also made it difficult for interactive clubs such as Stuy Tetris to achieve their goal of being able to provide entertainment and an active level of commitment for its members. “It was a lot harder to connect to everybody because ideally I have them all talk to each other [...] but on Zoom, it’s so much more awkward to single them out and have them unmute and talk in front of everybody,” sophomore and Stuy Tetris president Erica Liu said.

The return to in-person has allowed some clubs to restructure their activities to be more engaging. “It’s [...] really hard to explain things without your hands and being able to be there in person,” Alif said. “I really wanted to do experiments and you can’t really do experiments online, so it definitely opens up the possibility to do those again.”

However, with a recent increase in COVID cases, there is concern over whether this transition back to in-person meetings can be sustained. “I think there is a possibility that clubs will eventually transition back to remote with the increasing number of confirmed positive cases since the mask mandate has [been] lifted,” Wang said.

With the uncertainty of the return of another COVID wave, many club leaders are opting for a combination of both virtual and in-person meetings as a way to blend the availability of online meetings with the participatory aspect of physical meetings. Club leaders and members alike express their hopes that clubs will be able continue to remain open; however, students simultaneously highlight the need to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID. “As technology becomes more advanced and people start to utilize this to their advantage to make things more accessible, I definitely see that [an integration] is going to be staying for quite some time,” Lee said.