COVID Causes College Clubs to Close

By Shay Gauthier

Brockport Beat Editorial Board

With classes canceled, events postponed and The College at Brockport inaccessible to students, club leaders are left with one question: now what?

With the majority of the college shut down, several Brockport club leaders find themselves in a jumbled mess. They are constantly wondering how to keep their clubs active and engaging, while ensuring their members are not stressed during the pandemic. Even though they are not required to stay active during COVID-19 they still want Brockport Student Government Leslie Hoag is one of these club leaders.

Hoag holds several leadership positions on Brockport’s campus. As the president of the History Forum, secretary of The Delta College Student Association and senator of the Brockport Student Government Academic Council, Hoag always had something to do on campus. Now she has to contend with the clubs she cares about coming to a close.

“History Forum for all intents and purposes is done. As far as the stress levels for the officers go and the lack of involvement that was already happening from our members, we are all just deciding that it would be easier to shut it down. I am terribly, terribly heartbroken,” Hoag says.

Hoag, fourth from the left, poses with the History Forum club officers and advisers. Courtesy of History Forum.

Hoag calls History Forum her “baby.” She knew since she became a general member that she wanted to reinvent the club to further embrace the passions of those who love history. Now that the club has come to an end for the remainder of the spring semester, Hoag finds comfort in being more involved with the Brockport Student Government.

“If BSG shut down completely I don’t know where I’d be,” Hoag says.

As the senator for the Academic Council, Hoag works closely with several student club leaders on campus. Although clubs are not required to stay active during the pandemic, organizations face the threat of losing funding if deciding to take a break. Hoag believes that her involvement with Brockport Student Government creates a space where student leaders can go to her with concerns about their clubs.

Abigail Atkins has talked to Hoag on numerous occasions about the state of her clubs. Atkins is the president of The Delta College Student Association, where she works closely with Hoag. Even though Atkins is passionate about the Delta College, she spends most of her time as the Conational Communications Coordinator for the Brockport Residence Hall Association.

Hoag and Atkins. Courtesy of Delta College Student Association.

Atkins finds it somewhat ironic that she is running Residence Hall Association when the majority of residence halls have been closed on campus. She still continues to hold meetings with her board to plan future events once residence halls are open.

            “We’re not on campus, we can’t do events. It is now what can we still do within a reasonable expectation of our club members?” Atkins says.

            The Residence Hall Association continues to meet every week virtually. Atkins says that she starts off every meeting with a fun fact or story to lighten the mood. She wants her officers and club members to maintain some sort happiness during the pandemic.

            “This is a stressful time, but it’s important to remember that you can only do the best that you can with what you’re given. How you decide to react to everything is going to be the difference in the long run,” Atkins says.

Atkins continues to adapt her club in a way that she hopes will benefit members when campus reopens. Some leaders on the other hand are struggling to keep clubs functioning in an ideal way. The college offered clubs resources that are no longer accessible.

When the college announced that its SERC Complex was closing, all club sports were put on hold for the remainder of the semester. William Perrigo, the public relations and social media coordinator for Barbell Club, was at a loss. Promoting a healthy lifestyle was something that brought him happiness, especially when he saw how it impacted his club members.

“With gyms being closed it’s a major impact because depending on what your workout style is, you don’t have the resources,” Perrigo says. “If you’re a power lifter you need those weights in order to maximize training. Even if you just want to look good aesthetically, you still need those weights and a space to do those exercises in.”

Perrigo lifts weights during a Barbell Club meeting. Courtesy of Barbell Club.

Perrigo attempts to keep club members engaged on social media. He and the other club officers help give their members advice on how to stay in shape during the pandemic.

            “Working out is individually based, so we’re always there to help. We still offer work out plans and our social media page twice a week posts different work outs and nutritional ideas,” Perrigo says.

            Most club sports are canceled for the remainder of the semester, with the exception of Esports Club since it is an online based style of sport. If there is anything Perrigo has learned about himself and club members, it is that they will no longer take club sports for granted.

            “I know the pandemic will be over at some point and I just got to wait for it. When that day comes we can celebrate it,” Perrigo says.

            Club leaders like Perrigo and Atkins are who inspire Hoag to continue to push forward during the pandemic. She now works harder in the Brockport Student Government to help satisfy clubs in the best way she can. She says her passion for clubs has always been present, which is why she is running for treasurer of Brockport Student Government for the 2020-2021 academic year.

            “The position is meant to assist clubs with budgeting. More importantly, the treasurer sets up the system of accountability that clubs have to follow and work within, so that for the next year they can get a bigger budget or maintain the same status they currently have,” Hoag says.

Hoag feels it is more important than ever for the treasurer position to help clubs during the pandemic. Brockport Student Government has postponed its elections for new representatives until after COVID-19 passes, which she questions regularly.

            “I think it’s a huge detriment that the SUNY Association as a whole has decided to postpone these elections. Specifically for the position of treasurer, all of those who are running against each other are meeting to solve problems. That’s four people with four different agendas trying to make decisions for these clubs. I think it is going to reflect poorly on BSG,” Hoag says.

            As much as Hoag wants to assist clubs in the position of treasurer eventually, she wants club leaders to continue to use her as a resource while she’s a senator.

            “There’s a lot of responsibility in planning for the fall. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t have your meetings. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re losing the connectivity you had before as a whole. You’re not doing anything wrong.”

            With Brockport’s campus closed for clubs to meet and student leaders questioning what to do next, the common trend among Hoag, Atkins and Perrigo is to take one day at a time. If clubs are doing the best they can to promote member engagement and a sense of community, these particular student leaders are satisfied. Their satisfaction solely comes from the small things they can control.

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