Using clubs to connect while apart

How Concordia clubs and student associations create a sense community in the pandemic

Studying remotely can create a disconnect between you and your campus. These school clubs are here to help. Graphic Sheena Macmillan

Student life has changed vastly in this era of unprecedented circumstances—but that doesn’t mean it has lost what makes it so valuable in the first place.

Concordia’s many clubs and student organizations have gone virtual, so there are still a myriad of opportunities to get involved.

“Student life is still active, even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” said Harisson Krishner, VP external for Concordia Hillel, a club to engage Jewish students and share their culture. He also serves as a Concordia Student Union councillor. “Both have helped me find a sense of community.”

“I like that it gives an opportunity to just get out of our regular bubble,” said Divya Aery, VP involvement for CASA Cares, the section of the Commerce and Administration Student Association that plans fundraisers for nonprofits and helps direct students to where they can volunteer.  

While all the meetings and organizing takes place online, she has made friends within the team. “It’s crazy because I haven’t even seen some of them in person ever, but I’m always talking to them and working with them.”

Alexis Ramos, VP membership of the Filipino Organization of Concordia University Students explained that their club is always active on Discord. “It’s nice that we’re super connected because it feels as if we have an actual in-person office. There’s always someone there to study with or talk with. It really feels like a family.”

Mauro Franco is the director of sponsorship for Space Concordia. Though he’s currently studying for his masters in information security, he recalls his undergrad years, also at Concordia, but 20 years ago.

“There’s always someone there to study with or talk with. It really feels like a family.” — Alexis Ramos

“I think the best part of them was actually going into that classroom, the professor speaking, the professor leaving, then you turning around and saying, “Hi” to all these different people, and you discover what they’re about. And you can’t do that on Zoom.”

However, he explained that joining a club in the pandemic has helped him find a similar sense of community. “Space Concordia is a great place to meet people who are like-minded,” he said. 

“Feeling a sense of belonging in a group of people can really help our mental health in these difficult times,” stressed Aery. She explained that though it might be overwhelming to apply to be an executive right away, even just attending events will push students out of their comfort zone and will help them get through this challenging period.

“It’s important to remember that you’re not alone at all,” said Ramos. “You might feel kinda lame to join a Discord and reach out, but I promise you that there are other people out there that feel the same and would love to know that they’re not alone.”

If students are not sure where to start, Krishner recommends looking through the lists of clubs and messaging the ones that interest them. “We are such a diverse student body hence our clubs are diverse, so I’m sure there’s something for everyone,” he said. Yet, if no existing clubs are calling, it is always possible to start one, provided there’s enough interest from other students.

In addition, students can attend a virtual club fair hosted by the Dean of Students office, the faculty associations, and the CSU, from Jan. 25 to Jan. 29 from 12 to 2 p.m..