- 11 Oct 21
Student journalist Molly Cantwell talks the reintroduction to on-campus clubs and societies, current Covid challenges, and the difficulties faced by students during the pandemic.
After the most isolating year in college history, floods of students have returned to on campus learning. The notorious breeding ground for college friendships, clubs and societies, are also hoping to return in person as per latest government guidelines.
A year ago, I was an anxious first year student struggling to make friends in the midst of a global pandemic, with lockdowns keeping us all firmly off campus. Nearly a year later, I’m now surrounded by friends who I would never have met without getting involved with clubs and societies. Beating the shyness and getting involved in clubs and societies was the best step to have taken in my first year.
This area of the college experience has taken a huge hit over the last eighteen months. But Jane Henry, Chairperson of the Mary Immaculate Dramatic Arts Society (MIDAS), raises an interesting point. "Covid has shown just how passionate college students are about their clubs and socs,"she notes.
"The level of creativity shown over the past year has demonstrated how dedicated these students are to their clubs and socs and how they would stop at nothing to keep their clubs and societies alive".
Despite restrictions easing, committees are still having to get creative with how clubs and societies will run over the next semester. The lack of student accommodation across the country and the lack of clarity around events for committees has left students in a frustrating predicament yet again. Extra government and university support is needed to ensure students properly deal with the trauma the last year has left, and properly integrate back into some form of social lives.
The most condemned and yet overlooked community of the pandemic, students have dealt with the extremes of loneliness and isolation over the past academic year. From vilification in the media, to hemorrhaging money on fees and rent while working from their family home, the outlet of a club or society meeting offered a sense of release and normality.
"Being a part of MIDAS last year provided a means of escapism form all of the negativity in the world" says Henry. "The weekly events meant that I always had something to look forward to."
Declan Doody - a lecturer and the head of clubs and societies at Limerick College of Further Education - relates a similarly positive experience.
“For my entire time in 3rd Level I was involved with various different clubs and societies at various levels. My involvement with these had just as big an impact on my development and growth as a person and a professional as my time in study and pursuing my degree. Still, some of the closest people in my life I met through Clubs and Societies almost 15 years ago,” he said.
Now working in a third level environment, Declan recognises the importance these activities have on a student’s life.
"Having been so heavily invested in clubs and socs and the SU in college myself, as a teacher I want to try and emulate these organisations, provide spaces for learners with us to have that experience, to not only feel connected to their college but also to feel like they had a hand in its growth and development".
Current students must be given the opportunity to re-enter the world of socialisation, and to make these meaningful connections with their peers. Surely extra support for clubs and societies is the safest way to go?