Since we have been away from campus for a semester, several student clubs have had to take actions such as cancelling or downsizing events.
Despite the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, many were still able to keep students engaged, and adapt to the new normal.
Craccum talked to a few club presidents about how their plans were affected by the lockdown, and what they have planned for Semester Two.
Caitlyn Prince, President of The Sustainable Futures Collective (SFC)
Prince told Craccum that because SFC holds most of their events in person, they had to change their plans significantly.
“We wanted to still engage with our members, so we had to think about ways we could interact with students”.
Prince said that COVID-19 has influenced the conversation surrounding sustainability.
“The theme for our hackathon this year is Sustainability in a COVID-19 world. We have the opportunity to create a better future because we have seen so much change in the past six months and people are more open to it now.”
Daniel V Barraclough, President of the Arts Students Organisation (ASO)
Barraclough said students were responsive to student organisations during the lockdown.
“People were super eager to engage with something that gave them a sense of comfort, that everything was going to be okay”.
“It was inspiring to see how much people cared. I was super worried people would be like “I don’t give a fuck”, but the organisation at large was willing to stick it out.”
The ASO offered free membership for the first time during lockdown.
“We wanted to bring people together at a time that they were increasingly isolated. In tough times you’ve got to step up and try to do a good job for people, and we did the best we could do in the circumstances we were in.”
Chloe Bagayas, President of Stray Theatre
Bagayas told Craccum that Stray is set to perform two shows later this semester, but that lockdown didn’t stop Stray’s members from doing what they love.
“We had an online short play festival called ‘Stir Fried’, which was usually a live event, but we changed it to be in an online format.”
“There was an improv workshop one day, and then we had groups coming together to make plays over Zoom.”
Lockdown saw a spotlight on art forms like drama that could be enjoyed at home, with the cancellation of many sporting and other events.
“Some people think the magic of live theatre was taken away, but art helped people get through the lockdown, it was a good time for art in a weird unorthodox way”, Bagayas said.
Christoph Ernst, President of UN Youth Auckland
Ernst said that COVID-19 shaped many of the discussions within UN Youth.
“COVID-19 accelerated the conversation, and saw a shift towards focusing on topical local issues, building resilient communities and empowering people around us.”
In Semester One, UN Youth held an online case competition, and hosted a speaker series which ran over seven weeks.
“These events gave our members that educational aspect of being a member”, Ernst said.
Ernst said UN Youth also focused on providing social events for its members during the lockdown.
“We wanted to give people stuck at home the opportunity to engage with others and have something to do other than academics.”
Umbar Sandhu, President of the Debating Society
The Debating Society also focused on facilitating social interaction between its members.
“Obviously a big aspect to the club is the social aspect. By week two of lockdown people were getting pretty bored, so it was great for people to meet each other like they would normally on campus.”
“We tried to run online debating and social events every week to make sure people could make friends with other members of the society.”
Sandhu said this was to ensure new members felt comfortable.
“Losing the ability to do in-person debating makes the barrier to entry higher for people who haven’t debated before. It can be quite intimidating, and we wanted to make sure members had a friendly introduction to the society that they would normally get over pizza on campus.”
Andrew Hu and Vanessa Ciputra, President and Vice-President of the Developers Society (DEVS)
DEVS also held multiple Zoom workshops, with their first online workshop hosting over 100 participants. However, this did not come without challenges.
“One of the problems we faced as a tech club is that we do a lot of coding in our workshops. We cater for people who don’t have a technical background, so in person we have TAs to help people. Online it’s harder to gauge whether people are keeping up and we can’t have an individual TA to help people out.”
The Developers Society spoke on the importance of including students overseas, despite being at Level One in New Zealand, and have plans to remain partially online.
“One of our execs is actually in China right now, and she said she really enjoyed being able to attend our events online. Being online gives accessibility for anyone to join and attend our workshops.”