Students find ways to stay active in clubs

A. Sue Weisler

RIT Robotics Club member Linden Siegall, a mechanical engineering student from Dix Hills, N.Y., works on a project.

Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, RIT students still found ways to participate in hundreds of clubs and organizations last fall, like dancing, designing games, and even skydiving.

Some clubs offered live meetings and activities if they could be held safely. Others had members meet online, and others had combinations of in-person and online interactions.

Members of the RIT Robotics Club began talking over the summer on Zoom to see what they’d be doing once the fall semester started.

They reopened their club room and limited capacity to three members at a time to work on physical components, and showed members actual robots instead of only sharing pictures, said Gillian Doolittle, the club’s president and a third-year applied arts and sciences major from Napanoch, N.Y.

Members of Delta Sigma Pi, the co-ed professional business fraternity in Saunders College of Business, met virtually to make cards for healthcare heroes and held a professional event with alumni and faculty about working through COVID-19.

They did other community service projects where they could spread out, such as cleaning Mt. Hope Cemetery, said Madeline Tremblay, club president and a fourth-year new media marketing and management information systems dual major from Park Ridge, N.J.

Chat rooms connected members of the Asian Deaf Club. Its president, Youngjin Yi, said members met virtually at first but hoped to have in-person meetings for future events.

“Communication is very important for us to stay connected,” said Yi, an interior design major from Fairfax, Va. “COVID-19 is not stopping us. We’re using Slack, Zoom, Facebook, and email to stay connected and are staying positive to growing our club.”

Online meetings were just fine with Andrew Brook, a fourth-year game design and development major from Duxbury, Mass. He attended weekly meetings of the Game Dev Club via Zoom on Thursday nights, which featured lectures with speakers who teach game development skills. Members were allowed to chat and discuss their progress.

While this may not have been the best time to start a new club, that didn’t stop Colton Brown, a fourth-year computer science major from Tunkhannock, Pa. He formed the RIT Skydiving Club.

“We do, of course, meet in person when we actually skydive. It would be a bit more difficult to do that virtually,” Brown joked.

Eight RIT students made their first jumps with an instructor in September. Everyone wore masks along with their parachutes, and they took separate flights, mainly due to the size of the available airplane.

“Starting anew during this time has definitely been a challenge, from getting new members in the club, to getting events approved, there is a lot we have to do to make sure we are being safe in regards to COVID. But I wasn’t going to allow COVID to stop us.”

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