Bridge the social distance, join a club

Three clubs looking for members this semester

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Ana Pietrewicz / Daily Collegian

By Tegan Oliver, Collegian Contributor

Students spent the past 18 months staring at a computer screen and learning how to engage in small talk over Zoom. Now, we are navigating an entirely new social terrain, including relearning social skills and attempting to “make up” for more than a year of remote learning.

There are more than 20,000 undergraduate students enrolled at the University of Massachusetts this semester, and nearly half of them have never experienced a traditional semester on campus. The transition can be difficult, but you don’t need to go about it alone. Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) is a great way to meet new people and engage with the UMass community.

Throughout the pandemic, every UMass club made decisions about whether and how to stay active during remote learning. Some clubs functioned normally, while others disbanded altogether. Now, many clubs are low on membership and looking for people with the energy to help them navigate the semester. They’re also looking for underclassmen to dive in, learn quickly and assume leadership roles in the coming years. It’s the perfect time to get involved this semester, as clubs find their footing during the in-person semester.

Public Health Club (@umass_phc) is an academic club affiliated with the School of Public Health and Health Sciences on campus. It meets monthly, and members participate in service activities, professional development and public health education campaigns. You can join the mailing list by clicking the link in their Instagram bio!

PERIOD. at UMass (@period.umass) is another great group to join. It’s a branch of the national PERIOD. nonprofit that works to fight period poverty and period stigma, and it could serve as your introduction to advocacy work. This semester, they implemented a pilot program to provide free pads and tampons in nine bathrooms around campus. You can join their mailing list by visiting their Instagram page and clicking the link in their bio!

UMass Outing Club (@umassoutingclub) hosts several weekly hiking trips throughout the semester. It’s a great way to take a study break and meet new people. UMOC is looking for people to go through the leadership process to lead hikes. You can stay up-to-date by joining the TEAM APP page through the link in their bio, where they advertise general body meetings and hikes.

It is never too late in the semester to join a club, and these are just a few among hundreds available to students. UMass keeps an updated directory of RSOs students can reference to find groups that interest them.

I looked through this list at the beginning of my freshman year. Since then, I have met some of my closest friends through my involvement in various RSOs. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet more faculty, grow more confident in myself as a student and build skills on my resume today.

It’s completely normal to want to join a club but not know where to start. I suggest turning to social media and mailing lists. A lot of clubs have an Instagram page, and it’s easy to directly message their page and ask how you can be involved.

A recent Collegian article by Garrett Jacobsmeier detailed UMass’ rich history of activism and community building. It is empowering and fulfilling to be a part of building this history; don’t let the opportunity to do so pass you by.

Tegan Oliver can be reached at [email protected]