Clubs continue to meet, host forums online


Courtesy of WHEE

Clubs are now hosting forums online. On April 27, WHEE discussed the prevalence of domestic violence during the pandemic.

Chloe Zhao, Staff Writer

As COVID-19 continues to impact communities across the globe, students strive to stay connected with each other through clubs and affinity groups. Engaging their members in forums, movie nights and meetings, student organizations remain active through a computer screen.

On April 15, the East Asian Affinity Group held their first virtual check-in, during which students and teachers exchanged their quarantine experiences on Google Hangouts.

According to EAAG sponsor Jack Soliman, it is important to continue conversation and keep the affinity group active, especially with the recent spike in xenophobia and racism against East Asians as a result of the virus.

“Whether it’s an actual act of violence or jokes that are directed towards individuals, it’s still something that needs to be addressed,” Soliman said. “Whether we’re on campus or in a classroom online, there’s still relevance there.”

To raise awareness about the pandemic, EAAG hosted Katherine Yudeh King (’92) from the Texas Children’s Hospital to discuss the coronavirus epidemic on April 29.

Other affinity groups hosted virtual movie nights through tools such as the Netflix Party Chrome Extension, which allows users to stream Netflix remotely with others.  The Mixed Race Affinity Group held a screening of the ABC sitcom “Mixed-ish,” while the Women of Color affinity group watched the 2018 film “Stepsisters.” 

According to MRAG board member Eliot Aiman, with the decrease in social contact beyond family members, MRAG and other affinity groups are prioritizing social interaction, especially for students who may need support during social isolation. 

“Some more than others are in need of a place to talk about how this situation is personally affecting them, so affinity groups can be that space,” Aiman said. 

While this is the case, Aiman also believes there are “two sides of the pole,” and for other students, constant meetings can be overwhelming.

With the sudden switch to virtual meetings, affinity group board members faced challenges while planning activities due to technical issues.

“It’s a lot harder because I would usually just pass by the other leaders and talk to them,” senior WOC co-president Caitlin Guidry said. “Sometimes in meetings, people’s WiFi cuts out so you can’t understand or people talk over each other.”

For WHEE sponsor Eleanor Cannon, virtual meetings feel more fun now that everyone is self-isolating at home. 

“The nice thing is it’s been pretty leisurely, and everyone’s kind of relaxed,” Cannon said. “We value the time in a different way because we’re excited to connect and talk.”

Cannon and WHEE leaders planned a forum for Monday, April 27 to discuss domestic violence during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Similarly, the LGBTQ+ affinity group, PRISM, continues to stay in contact with its members through casual video calls on Google Hangouts and meme exchanges in the group chat. According to PRISM board member Liv Rubenstein, those interactions can be helpful distractions for a closeted student stuck in an unaccepting environment.

“Unfortunately, for many PRISM members, being stuck at home can mean being stuck in a really unaccepting environment,” Rubenstein said. “PRISM meetings, even if they’re virtual, are safe spaces that a lot of people have been missing with the social distancing.”

According to Cannon, clubs are still as significant as before in providing support during these troubling times, even despite school closure.

“We are trying to do what we always do for affinity groups which is build community and support,” Cannon said. “We need it even more now than we normally do.”