Do clubs at Foothill still find online meetings worth it?


Aldo Gonzalez

Saintra Thai (in red) and members of the Anthropology Club engage with students during Winter Club Day

On Foothill’s Winter Club Day a member of the Business and Entrepreneurship Club was asked “What do you think is the biggest change from the last academic year”, he talked about how “we would get 17 to 20 people In a Zoom call”, and with excitement he said “we [now] get more than 100 people in our [in-person] events.” Could these sorts of observations discourage clubs from participating within the online space?

Well, it is not hard to see why clubs may focus more on the in-person experience. With participation numbers so low, clubs have to start asking themselves if it’s worth it to spend the time and resources to facilitate a dwindling online student population. 

In a discussion about how the structure of clubs is changing with Saintra Thai – Anthropology club’s ICC (Inter Club Council) representative – she mentions how “we are more than willing to host online meetings if there is someone willing to step up.” This apathy towards online meetings is shared among many of the clubs. However, others have found ways to utilize the online space to supplement the in-person experience.

Many of the newer clubs have chosen to adopt a hybrid structure where weekly online meetings are hosted in order to schedule in-person meetups and events or have smaller discussions that don’t necessitate an in-person meeting. For instance, the Rock Climbing club uses Discord to organize meetups at various rock climbing locations. The Film Club uses Discord to decide on which viewings to attend at theaters and for the subsequent discussion of the deeper meanings behind the film, a transformative experience. Although there are some ways to participate online, the main events still take place in-person for these clubs. 

There are some outliers, though. Our own Journalism Club (The Foothill Script) hosts meetings in-person and online. They do this by sharing a video feed of the in-person meeting to Discord, allowing online students to interact and fully participate within the club. This avoids the problem of having to host separate meetings and events; it should be of note that this only makes sense for clubs where physical space isn’t integral, and the students from both sides of the screen have something to gain from each other.

Although the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, questions remain. How long until hybrid clubs decide to drop support for online students if they decide to? Do online clubs have a future, or will it just be a matter of time before significant participation in any club requires in-person attendance?