ASB implements new club policies for virtual learning

September 10, 2020 — by Ethan Lin and Allen Luo
Photo by Bora Alaybeyi

Members of the Quiz Bowl club attend their first meeting of the year on Wednesday, 8/20.

With the semester starting virtually, some school-wide activities like sports and musical performances have been postponed until conditions get better. Extracurriculars like clubs, however, have jumped into the new online environment. 

Because of this, ASB has implemented new rules for clubs. Club meetings will still happen during school lunches, but are now required to meet virtually, with exceptions being accepted on a case-by-case basis. 

“If clubs do not believe they can meet virtually or function during this time, they should let ASB and their adviser know,” said ASB club commissioner Arnav Mangal. “The club status will be put on hold until in-person learning returns.”

A few days before every month, club presidents put links, passwords and meeting times for Zoom meetings on the monthly club meeting calendar, which is accessible to students on both Facebook and Canvas. This information is sent to ASB every month, along with the meeting minutes, which are shared with editing access with the club’s adviser. 

While clubs are still required to have teacher advisers, their attendance is only recommended in meetings. Although it is virtual, club officers still must enforce school behavior policies at meetings and either remove or report students who act inappropriately during meetings. 

Club presidents are required to record meetings for this purpose, with the administration contacting them if they need to refer back to the video. Additionally, the ASB or administration will randomly attend different meetings every lunch to make sure they are proceeding smoothly. 

Additionally, the traditional Club Day activities have instead been condensed into two slide show presentations — with clubs categorized under either academic or cultural/service clubs. Academic club presentations will be on Sept. 14, while cultural/service clubs will have it on Sept. 15.

Clubs will each get one slide to display important information and attract students. A Google form link for interested students as well as a private Facebook group link is recommended to be put on the slides, and club presidents are allowed to design their page however they like — with pictures and appropriate videos, if needed.

Many clubs are split on these new changes. For some, it has been helpful in accomplishing their goals. 

“The new virtual system allows for a lot more flexibility in terms of hosting larger and more accessible events,” said senior Henry Weng, president of the Economics Club. “For example, with our speaker series, we're able to invite professors and industry leaders from all across the country rather than those local to the school.” 

For more hands-on clubs, however, the new virtual environment has made it difficult to do certain activities that would have been otherwise easy in a normal school setting. 

“This new virtual system makes it much harder to engage and interact during meetings, especially in a super project-based club like the Green Team,” senior Green Team club president Riya Jain said. “It can be difficult to coordinate and work on our goals.”

The ASB has also seen a large influx of new club applications this year with students having more time to pursue their interests. As a result, they have limited the number of approved clubs through stricter club interviews in order to ensure that clubs do not overlap in topics, Mangal said. There are a total of 59 clubs as of Sept. 9, with more being added as clubs are approved. 

For some clubs like Toga Medical Club, starting a new club during COVID perhaps has been a blessing in disguise. 

“All of our curriculum was created to suit COVID from the start,” sophomore club founder Mahati Kotamraju said. “It is far easier to obtain doctors for our Q&A sessions and lectures through Zoom.”  

Although this new change has set many clubs back, many are still hopeful for what the new school year could bring.

“During this experience, I really hope clubs can devise ways to virtually interact with the student body throughout the year, rather than just informational slideshows that feel like another class,” Mangal said. “Because when you really boil down the purpose of clubs at Toga, their collective purpose is to create connections between the student body on different cultural, academic and service interests.”