COVID-19 has caused many setbacks to the clubs of Iowa State, but spring semester ClubFest provided an opportunity for those clubs to show what they have to offer.
The second week of the spring semester kicked off ClubFest, an event the Iowa State Memorial Union holds every year. However this year, ClubFest has chosen a different approach.
Students could choose to attend the event in person in one-hour intervals or attend virtually. This also provided the opportunity for clubs to reach out to students who felt safer attending virtually, so that they would not miss out on any future members.
Isabella McGuire, a junior majoring in global resource systems, represented the Ballroom Dance Club at the event and explained why their club chose to attend ClubFest in person.
“It allows a more personal connection with people who are interested in joining our club. While it’s safer to attend the virtual event, it is easier to talk about what our club is and answer any questions that potential members might have,” McGuire said.
McGuire said the Ballroom Dance Club would be attending ClubFest virtually as well.
Tess Kern, a sophomore majoring in agronomy who represented her club DubH, had similar thoughts.
“I think that attending this [event] has been pretty safe and it provides the chance for other students to attend in person because they want to get out and do fun stuff,” Kern said.
Kern said it was better to interact in person because it is harder for students attending virtually to get a sense of what DubH is about.
“Our club, DubH, is a hip-hop club and we can’t explain what we’re doing unless we can physically show what our dances are,” Kern said.
Kern also said DubH would be attending ClubFest virtually all week.
Taylor Beyer, a sophomore majoring in genetics, attended the event in person Wednesday. When asked why she decided to attend the event, Beyer said she wanted to branch out and join clubs she finds interesting.
“I attended in person and I’m not really involved in any clubs, which is why I decided to go this year,” Beyer said.
Beyer also said she didn’t feel like there was a lot of pressure from Iowa State to join clubs and events due to COVID-19, so it was harder for her to get involved this year.
“I was surprised by the number of club booths at the event,” Beyer said.
With the ongoing threat of COVID-19, many clubs have taken precautions to prevent the spread of the pandemic.
“It’s been hard getting new people because they don’t want to take the risk of getting the virus,” McGuire said.
McGuire said that because the Ballroom Dance Club is part of the sports club council and competes competitively, they had to work with administrators to figure out how to adapt club activities to adhere to COVID-19 policies.
“We [require] masks at all times, use hand sanitizer before and after practices and have chosen not to rotate dance partners to [minimize] the spread,” McGuire said. “We also take attendance to check contact tracing.”
DubH has taken similar precautions to protect their members.
“We have the option that if you don’t want to do the dances in person, there are online videos and sessions to learn so that members [aren’t forced] to come in to learn them,” Kern said.
Kern also said that in the past, when a member missed a session, they would miss part of the dance. Now due to COVID-19, their club sends out videos created by choreographers so that each member can choose what dance they want to participate in.
When asked if she found ClubFest helpful in finding clubs she was interested in, Beyer said, “Yes I definitely think so. I think that I want to join the genetics club, as well as the rare disease awareness club.”