UMD clubs operate amid pandemic, hope to attract members at virtual First Look Fair
Terp Thon's virtual All Hands on Deck meeting. (Screenshot courtesy of Terp Thon)
By Laine Napoli
For The Diamondback
Wednesday is the first day of the University of Maryland’s annual First Look Fair, a campus club fair at the beginning of each fall semester that normally attracts large crowds of students.
But due to the ongoing pandemic, student clubs at this year’s virtual fair are functioning differently than in years past.
Many clubs and organizations have made adjustments to comply with the university’s safety guidelines, as well as county and state guidelines.
Alex Wood, a senior management and marketing major at this university, remains optimistic about the future of her club: CHAARG.
“Things are super crazy right now,” Wood said. “I think that having student organizations and ways for students to interact and meet right now is super important.”
An empowerment-based fitness and wellness club, CHAARG normally hosts large group workouts of about 30 members, Wood said, with smaller group activities throughout the week.
But this semester, the club’s weekly workouts, which are led by outside fitness instructors, are now held on Zoom, with smaller in-person outdoor workouts continuing for those who want to participate, Wood said.
“Being able to have a little bit of structure in my week is really nice,” Wood said, even if it means adapting it to meet pandemic protocol.
David Korendyke, a club officer for this university’s beekeeping club, said that their organization has also made adjustments, limiting bee-tending responsibilities to small groups of officers.
Korendyke, a junior electrical engineering major, said the club — which has the purpose of caring for and generating revenue from bees on the campus — still hosts meetings over Zoom for all of its members.
“We are all looking to take care of the bees because they’re not really affected by the pandemic,” Korendyke said. “They’re still working.”
Terp Thon, a fundraising club at the university, is still deciding how to proceed with its annual in-person dance marathon designed to raise money for Children’s National Hospital, said Jake Maggid, public relations executive board chair.
Maggid, who is a junior finance and marketing major, said the club is unsure when a decision will be made.
In the meantime, the club is holding both all-member and smaller meetings virtually, Maggid said, which he thinks has been beneficial.
“I think with everything going virtual, it’s been a great opportunity for our club,” Maggid said. “It’s allowed us to use all of our social media platforms, as well as our outreach, to really focus on the kids and our cause.”
Keeping clubs active this semester will be a challenge, as virtual platforms provide barriers for recruitment, Korendyke said.
“In the end, we’re sitting in the Zoom call at the First Look Fair, and it’s the students who have to click on the link,” Korendyke said. “It really depends on how motivated the students are to get involved.”