Behind the Scenes on Club Engagement
by: Eva Webber
Behind the scenes of Pitt-Greensburg’s favorite campus movie nights, arts and craft sessions, educational panels, giveaways, and fundraisers, are student leaders on the executive boards of clubs and academic societies. The formula for an exciting extracurricular life is all here, with warm hosts, lively guests, and plenty of activity to pass the time. But considering the pandemic, getting out there and showing up to social events can be daunting and even exhausting, especially during an already strenuous school semester.
Engagement in club events and meetings isn’t always a given. There is a residual post-quarantine struggle among students to attend events, however enjoyable and informative they might be. But things aren’t all looking down. President Misha Laity of Nerdfighters, a club encompassing all things pop-culture, creative media, and general “nerdiness” commented on the upward climb in club engagement throughout the pandemic.
“It’s always so great to see our events come together and to see people enjoying themselves,” Laity said. “With Nerdfighters, it’s especially nice… considering geek culture is something that’s sometimes known for being asocial.”
Hosting events tends to differ from general meetings, bringing in different bunches of attendees in different numbers and frequency. Nerdfighters, a well-seasoned club with about 15 years of experience to show their success and student involvement, is no exception.
“The Nerdfighters have always had decent turnouts to general meetings, though numbers tend to dwindle as the semester goes on,” Laity said. “But events usually have great turnouts, and don’t see nearly as much of a change over time. Regularly repeated and well liked events like Friday Night Gaming and Cat Cafe visits are usually the most active.”
However, not every club on campus has the roots to attract regular attendance. For the Pitt-Greensburg Democrats, finding their footing as a recently revived club isn’t the easiest, especially with student reluctance towards club engagement.
“What makes leading the Pitt Greensburg Democrats worthwhile is, admittedly, the struggles we are currently going through.” Austin Hodge said He is the president of the Pitt Greensburg Democrats. “This semester in general had a lack of attendance for club activities across the board, and we especially have had a few issues with getting attendance to our events… but that appears to be an issue for most clubs this semester. What has been rewarding is formulating the plans for next semester, which I feel will be very good for the campus as a whole.”
It is important to note that as the democratic presence on campus struggles in club form, the College Republicans Committee also has no on-campus presence this semester, meaning it has no presiding members or executive board.
New and revived clubs often struggle to form a reputation and get the word out to new members, but again, it’s not all bad news. The starting line for any club is drawn by a determined executive board.
“My expectations were that I would be experiencing challenges, especially since the Pitt-Greensburg Democrats went through a period of inactivity the previous semester,” Hodge said. “That expectation has been more than fulfilled… I have confidence in me and the executive board’s ability to make sure that the Pitt-Greensburg Democrats prosper and continue to do so after I have graduated.”
So how can students get back to finding enjoyment and respite rather than apprehension and hesitance for extracurriculars like club events? Bailey Weber, editor-in-chief for “The Insider,” writes in her editorial articles “We’re More than Halfway Done! Here’s how to Avoid Burnout,” and “Perfectionism and Why it Needs to Change,” about the importance of finding a reasonable balance between work, study, and mental health as college students.
After all, being a member of a club is supposed to be an exciting and rewarding experience, not a dreaded obligation. Laity and Hodge are testimony to the time and effort it takes to lead, and they’re students just like any other looking to share interests, hobbies, and motives to make Pitt-Greensburg the close-knit community it is.
Every time students step into a club activity or event, they become a part of the rich history and social life that helps make college more than just classes.
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