The first week of our semester whispered isolation. There were no clubs advocating for members as if students were depressed about their return. More likely, it was that many students were stepping on campus for the first time, even as third years. Covid-19 ruined our relationships, our self-esteems, and our favourite activities.
According to a study published in the Community Mental Health Journal, those with strong social relationships are 50 per cent more likely to thrive than those who keep to themselves. They state an association between social isolation and risk factors such as heart disease, arthritis, and increased blood pressure. But specifically, the dangerous effects on mental health. Not just students, but people who are isolated will have higher anxiety and depression.
Students want to socialize when they can, or when they deem safe. Even the shyest individuals want to break down their walls, and club activities allow students to do so. The halls of the campus are filled with students with earbuds or headphones, studying, or on their phones, each confined to their own bubble. We speak with friends we make in our classes but forget about each other as soon as the semester ends.
Students don’t get much exposure to the clubs on campus. Club activities are a great way to socialize, network, and most importantly, enjoy campus life. However, this year, club executives only started to recruit students in the second week of the semester.
At the campus’ Club Fair, there were student associations like the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and the standout club that caught the eyes of many students, the Archery Club. The booth had a 1.5-metre-long black and red bow showcased for all that skittered by to notice, stare, and, to the executive’s joy, touch, and spark conversation over.
For every club available, one was missing. I didn’t see a Vietnamese Association or the other tens of cultural associations. I didn’t see niche activity clubs like the anime club or knitting club. I didn’t see the club booths line up to the Kaneff building like usual.
It’s understandable that many students are just trying to find their way around campus. Covid-19 infected our social lives, and the two years of isolation have transformed campus life. But we can change that by making groups of our own.
Step one is to find members. To be considered a club, you must have at least five students. Two of these students will be the signing officers of the group—the executives. With five members, you’re eligible to apply for student recognition by logging into the Student Organization Portal. Even alumni can apply.
Step two includes reading through the “University Policy on the Recognition of Campus Groups.” The rules are straightforward—follow the law, be a club of the student body, and don’t do commercial activities (like selling things for profit), just to name a few. Other notable points would be the application process which includes supplying a mailing address and phone number, the total number of governing students, and a copy of the by-laws or constitution of the group.
Step three is writing the constitution, which must include a name, purpose and objectives, membership, executive list and duties, elections, finances, meetings, and amendments. Fees for club membership, if any, cap out at ten dollars. Any amount more than that must be justified.
And you’re done. Submit your application! There’s typically a rush of applications in August and September, but a member of the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union’s Student Groups team will contact you to discuss further details about the club before accepting it. Soon enough, more members will pour in, and you’ll have the perfect club. Don’t be afraid to try new things, mingle with new people, and find your calling. After all, that’s what clubs are for.