In-person club events and activities return this fall

Many clubs have witnessed high participation from the Classes of 2024 and 2025.

by Ellie Anderson | 9/30/21 5:05am

by Summer Hargrave / The Dartmouth

After over a year and a half of COVID-19 guidelines on social life, students have returned to in-person club meetings and programming. Many expressed enthusiasm for attending social events, but some club leaders have raised concerns about COVID-19 guidelines.

Across campus, many students were excited about the prospect of returning to in-person club events going into this school year. Jessica Chiriboga ’24, a student leader who leads local trips in the Dartmouth Outing Club, said that she was thrilled to meet in person for DOC meetings, noting that she has seen increased participation from the Class of 2024 compared to last year. 

“Some ’24s jumped on the opportunity to get involved with clubs even though they were mostly through a Zoom format, while other ’24s decided ‘I’m going to wait until next year,’” Chiriboga said. “So I think there’s a lot more ’24s now who are getting involved in new clubs.”

Chiriboga added that the increased amount of socialization has allowed students to make friends in person as opposed to on Zoom meetings.

“In-person [meetings] ... facilitate so many more social interactions outside of the official meeting time that I think [are] really important for our mental health and our social wellbeing in general,” she said.

Although social spaces have mostly opened, some COVID-19 restrictions, such as indoor masking, are still in effect on campus. Dartmouth Political Union president William Reicher ’22 said that during sophomore summer, restrictions were loosened to the point that it felt like “the pandemic was over.” However, he said that the current restrictions haven’t hindered the club’s meetings, noting that wearing a mask doesn’t affect their discussions.

On the other hand, Cabin and Trail chair Maya Khanna ’22 said that students’ comfort level with masks has been a concern for in-person meetings.

“I think that we have some people who are frustrated that we are enforcing masking at our meetings, because I think not all spaces on campus are doing that,” she said. “But because we’re such a big group and we meet in indoor, fairly tightly-packed spaces, we do try to follow those guidelines and keep everyone safe and comfortable.” 

She added that some students still feel uncomfortable attending meetings, even while wearing masks, due to COVID-19 transmission concerns. 

Club sports have also experienced loosened COVID-19 restrictions on practices. Dartmouth’s women’s volleyball team co-captain Sara Lockwood ’22 said the team is “just so happy” to have the opportunity to return to the court. According to Lockwood, last year’s restrictions on practice included limiting the number of people on court to ten people and making sure players were masked and socially distanced. This term, Lockwood said, the only requirement during practices is the mandatory use of masks.

Two weeks ago, the Collis Student Involvement Fair took place in person for the first time since the pandemic began, with nearly 200 tables being across the Green, each for a different student group. 

Reicher said the DPU had so much interest from members of the Class of 2025 that the club had their largest meeting since the club’s inception last week. Similarly, Lockwood said about 40 girls attended the club volleyball open gyms prior to try-outs, in contrast to the limited availability the team had for spots last spring due to practice size limitations. Although Khanna said meeting size had not changed drastically compared to prior years, she saw an increased number of sign-ups for trips on Trailhead, the DOC’s online trip registration system.

Spencer Mancuso ’25 said he found attending meetings to be useful way of finding upperclassmen mentors and new social spaces. He noted that he enjoyed “the energy put forth by upperclassmen,” adding that their enthusiasm at the club fair led him to join clubs he did not initially envision himself joining. 

Mancuso noted that balancing his priorities has been challenging for him this year.

“In high school, my interests were able to fit into my schedule, and in college, my interests are not able to fit into my schedule,” he said. “There’s lots of overlap with club times, and then generally, there’s just not enough time in the day to do all the things you want to. At the same time, that makes me more intentional with my time.”

Maya Khanna and Jessica Chiriboga are former members of The Dartmouth staff.