Student Organizations Learn to Meet and Operate Under Remote Learning Circumstances

Courtesy of Alicia VrabecLike many groups that had to transition online, members of Loyola's student-run Food Recovery Network (above) have been utilizing Zoom meetings in order to stay connected and organized.

With Loyola’s campus operating remotely this fall, student-run clubs and organizations have had to change the way they operate. Clubs have been meeting remotely on Zoom, putting a hold on main events and finding new and creative ways to stay involved.

Senior Alicia Vrabec, president of the Food Recovery Network, came up with new ways to keep the organization running during the pandemic. Before COVID-19, the Food Recovery Network would go to different events on campus and dining halls to collect unused food which they’d repackage and donate to food pantries. 

“Because of COVID-19 we are still able to recover food from the Damen Dining Hall but we are getting way less food because we have less dining halls to choose from,” Vrabec said. “We have also been getting volunteers for farmers markets and doing other work for Adjust Harvest.”

The Food Recovery Network has also been working with farmers through a farm link where students on the organization’s executive board spend 2-3 hours a week calling farmers to see how they can better connect farmers and people in need of food, according to Vrabec.

“We are going to try to expand doing more remote things in the spring,” Vrabec said. “We want to expand donations outside of Loyola and also continue to work with farmers over the phone and also work so that we can get notified whenever there is an event on campus where there will be food that we can collect.”

Another service club — Femme International, new to Loyola this year — had to build itself up and operate under remote learning. 

“We are new and we are starting this year so COVID-19 hasn’t changed a lot,” president and co-founder Yalemzewod Enqubahry said. “For this year we are limited to virtual platforms. In terms of reaching out for volunteer work we can’t do that as much so we are focused on doing things online. We are hoping we will be able to hold two fundraisers in the spring and try to engage our parent organization more.”

Femme International focuses on fundraising so it can donate menstrual cups to Tanzania and Kenya. It raises money to send to its parent organization Femme International. The group also wants to fundraise for places in Chicago, Enqubahry said.

Marda Sebagadis Abay, the outreach officer for Femme International, said she wants the group’s main goal is to create awareness for their cause.

“We want to create volunteer opportunities for our members,” Sebagadis Abay said. “We were thinking about reaching out to homeless shelters in Chicago but we haven’t been able to do that because of COVID.”

Senior and President of LUC Film Club Joseph Ditterline has been trying to rework the club to try to adapt to the new online format. Film club is for students who love movies and student film majors. Last semester, it hosted weekly screenings at the Damen Student Center.

“We took the opportunity to bring in some new people and together we have been brainstorming what we can do this semester,” Ditterline said. “We have not held any specific meetings but we are increasing our social media presence and also planning some events on Zoom.”

Film Club is planning on hosting Zoom watch parties. It’s also working on putting together virtual movie trivia nights and looking to bring on a Loyola alum who is working on a future film as an online guest speaker. The group is also trying to plan events for the spring if everything goes as planned, according to Ditterline.

“I would love to have a student film fest in the spring and that would involve having students submit their work to us and we would have a judging process to see what films will be accepted and then show the films in the cinema,” Ditterline said. “At the end of the event, we would announce a winner and the winner would get a prize of some kind.” 

Through these times, the presidents of each of the clubs have been trying to look at the positives of having to operate remotely.

“One positive of this semester was that the student organizations and greek life fair was virtual which seemed easier for people to attend so we got a boost in membership, especially in [first-years] because I feel like [first-years] are looking for different ways to get involved in school because they aren’t on campus,” Ditterline said.

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