Be social while social distancing

Whether you’re attending Brandeis in the lovely little town of Waltham or zooming in from a time zone 12 hours away, you can explore Brandeis student life through Brandeis’ over 200 student-run clubs and organizations. From volunteering, performing, sports, politics and (of course) student journalism, there is an opportunity for everyone to find their passion through club life. And on the off-chance that 200 options just aren’t enough, you can create a new club through Brandeis University’s undergraduate student union.

Joining a club isn’t just about passion or resume-padding. Clubs are a great way to meet new people on campus—including lifelong friends. Students who show up to a club meeting already have a common interest—a natural conversation starter. For those who feel awkward or shy in the company of strangers, or just for those unused to the artificial interactions of a Zoom meeting, club meetings can feel much more organic and social than your average online lecture. 

Like every other aspect of our daily lives, the coronavirus has thrown a wrench in students’ social gatherings. Most in-person club events have been cancelled or modified in order to comply with Brandeis’ gathering policies and prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But even during a pandemic—and perhaps especially during a pandemic—social interaction is a key aspect of mental health. 

Fortunately, we live in a time in which technology allows us to stay connected to one another even when we might be on other sides of the world. Getting involved in clubs may seem even more daunting when meetings occur over Zoom rather than in person, but don’t let technology scare you away from one of the best parts of the college experience. A room full of students, eager to engage with a club, should be easier to face than virtual gym class. 

Some clubs can be a great way to take a break from classwork, such as a cappella choirs, dance groups and sport clubs. Other clubs provide a unique learning opportunity that students can not get in the classroom. For instance, the Mock Trial Association, the radio station (WBRS), television station (BTV), the Student Union and publication clubs are a few examples of organizations that give students the opportunity to experience these fields and potentially prepare them for professional employment.

As far as how many clubs to join, that is completely up to each individual. Some people like to join a number of clubs that don’t require much of their time. Others only join one or two but dedicate more time to those clubs. Overcommitment is a common issue for Brandeisians, so just be sure that whatever you are doing is enjoyable rather than stressful. Especially this year, it’s important to take into account mental health when balancing school and extracurricular commitments. 

While this semester’s involvement fair has already passed us by, that does not mean it’s too late to join a club. It’s still early in the semester, and any Brandeis club would be happy to have another passionate student ready to contribute. At the very least, our club The Brandeis Hoot, is always open to new members. 

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