Clubs Face New Challenges in Distanced Settings

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Krisha Konchadi

With the ASB announcement that clubs must meet virtually for the foreseeable future, clubs have turned to Zoom to hold their meetings whether they intend to prepare for competitions, engage in community outreach or raise awareness for social issues.

For many student groups, the move to distance and hybrid learning presents a series of unforeseen triumphs and challenges, forcing new and old school clubs alike to make radical adjustments to their operations.

Now, after more than two months, how are our school’s clubs faring with social distancing hurdles?

Inspired by the recent Black Lives Matter Movement, Minority-Owned OC is a club established this school year that is committed to shining a light on local minority-owned businesses feeling the brunt of COVID-19’s economic consequences. Founded by junior Bassma Ennarah, the club takes a journalistic focus and plans to kickstart a weekly blog.

One perk of starting it online is that you’re able to reach out to more people, and more people are being open to coming to your club.”

— Bassma Ennarah

“One perk of starting it online is that you’re able to reach out to more people, and more people are being open to coming to your club,” Ennarah said. “Because we do live in Irvine, there’s definitely a lot more minority-owned businesses than in another city…We started our club when there was heightened attention to how minority communities in America are suffering.”

Minority-Owned OC is one of 133 clubs founded this school year – nearly a 50% increase from the 90 last year, according to the Portola High Activities and ASB website. Increased societal awareness of social issues has inspired the startups of multiple racial justice and activism-based clubs, including the Racial Justice Alliance and Student Activism Club.

Longstanding clubs like Mock Trial, a club that competes with Orange County high schools in simulated court trials, are also continuing with weekly meetings on Zoom. In-person competitions, which typically take place in November and December, have been postponed to February.

Trials will be conducted on Zoom, with the only difference being that alternates must “step in” if competitors experience technical difficulties. Through their meetings, club members continue to maintain connections necessary to their success while forging new traditions virtually.

“Mock Trial has that familial aspect to it because each individual member has to work and collaborate with other members to be successful,” senior and club president Sonia Goyal said. “We actually had a tradition for a couple weeks in which we played an ‘Among Us’ game…People were forced to interact with one another, and it was a great way to break the ice.”

While Zoom meetings are a convenient way for community members to attend meetings without safety or transportation considerations, the virtual format leaves much to be desired compared to the advantages of in-person meetings. 

For The Survival Mode, a new club dedicated to providing its members with the household and humanitarian skills necessary to survive in the real world, virtual meetings allow club members from across Irvine Unified to stay involved; however, the club navigates challenges with new membership.

I think that it’s more sentimental and maybe even more meaningful to actually have that real-life connection with someone that you actually want to talk to.”

— Tiffany Park

“It has been difficult to attract members from other locations or even [Portola High],” club president and junior Tiffany Park said. “I think that it’s more sentimental and maybe even more meaningful to actually have that real-life connection with someone that you actually want to talk to.”

Despite these obstructions, The Survival Mode has already hosted two guest speaker events, three community service opportunities and one student raffle fundraiser virtually since its founding in September and continues to uphold its commitment to Irvine students.

“We try to figure out different ways that we can still host these fun events, for students or even other people to just come and enjoy while maintaining proper social distancing guidelines,” Park said.