Posted on: February 26, 2023 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

Photo by Jackson Edwards

Members of the Muslim Student Association recruit new members during the Student Club & Org Fair on Feb. 7.

By JRN 111 Students

Connections, collaborations and community are a key part of college life, but in a post-pandemic world, they have become harder to find.

One of the ways students traditionally have found like-minded people is by joining clubs, but Moraine Valley has lost a third of the clubs it offered before COVID hit in spring 2020.

“We might be out of COVID, but we’re not really out of COVID,” said Kayla Bucci, Moraine’s new manager of Student Life. Before the pandemic, Moraine had more than 30 clubs, she said, but “right now we only have slightly over 20. COVID has really put a damper on this kind of stuff.” 

As student life essentially goes through a reboot, Bucci is working to help clubs recruit members and encourage students who may want to start new clubs.

Most of the current clubs participated in the Student Club & Org Fair in the U building on Feb. 7. The scent of popcorn and the sounds of electric guitar filled the air as the clubs showcased themselves with colorful poster boards, smiling faces and in-depth conversations.

Photo by Jackson Edwards
New Student Life manager Kayla Bucci explains how she is working to build community for students.

“To see the students engaged and walking up to the tables is the main purpose of the event,” Bucci said during the event, which was made for curiosity and socializing. “If they feel they can make a connection to campus, they’re going to do well. Being involved in campus really gives them that sense of belonging.”

The guitar music came from a table showcasing the musical club the Tritones.

“I’m happy to let people know our name,” said Tritones member Natalie Cross. “And to get others to learn about the club.”

Clubs represented a range of activities, from singing to academics, podcasts and even important aspects of culture. For example, the Muslim Student Association emphasizes the overall importance of fighting against ignorance.

Mana Shibli, a member of MSA, expressed one of the club’s key goals: “Opening up people’s minds to the religion is essential,” she said. “It’s what we are trying to do.”

The event helped raise awareness for some students who happened to be in the cafeteria while the fair was going on.

“I didn’t know half of these clubs existed,” said Krisha Patel, 19, a finance and nursing major. “Another thing that’s good is they have little candy to pull you in.”

Lana Hadeed, 20, found the fair helpful and informative.

“I’m actually really excited about this type of event,” she said. “I signed up for two clubs already. I signed up for the environmental club because they have volunteer programs. I’m looking into the Justice for Palestine club.”

If (students) feel they can make a connection to campus, they’re going to do well. Being involved in campus really gives them that sense of belonging.”

Kayla Bucci, Student Life Manager

Students for Justice in Palestine is a newly formed club, having started only this year at Moraine, although it’s not the first club of its kind.

“There’s about 200 other SJPs across the country,” said Mariam Sharawi, a student organizer for the club. She and fellow students were inspired to help form the club after talking to friends at different schools such as Saint Xavier University that have their own SJP club.

Bucci said she’s been approached at least five times in the short time she’s worked at Moraine by students wanting to start new clubs.

“Someone approached me about having a dance club,” she said, pointing out that the college used to have such a club. “Any clubs that want to come back, I want to hear it.”

Those proposing new clubs need to have at least 10 students interested in joining, as well as a faculty member to serve as an adviser.

In addition to the club fair, Bucci is trying to be more creative with how to get the word out to students.

“We’ve been thinking about using a text message system to get more students to join, especially when Student Life is hosting big events,” she said.

Bucci wants students to know that Student Life is trying to give a space for belonging, experiences and building relationships: “What can we do to give you those connections so you’re making meaningful relationships and being involved?”

JRN 111 students Juan Carbajal, Isabelle Deane, Jackson Edwards, Abby Hobbs and Niki Kowal contributed to this report.