Before the pandemic, the Writing Arts Club was a flourishing in-person club, with weekly meetings taking place in Bunce Hall. This photo was taken at one of their last in-person meetings. Via @rowanwritingartsclub
It goes without saying how quickly the lives of Rowan students changed in March 2020. The rejuvenating Spring Break we were looking forward to turned into a lonely period of confusion and uncertainty. We came to learn that for the remainder of the year, there would be no more in-person classes, let alone in-person events or readings. Our expectations of what our college lives could be were suddenly uprooted.
And yet, the Writing Arts Club has remained afloat.
This past year’s Writing Arts Club e-board, comprising of President Eric Uhorchuk, VP Adam Goskowsky, Secretary Paige Stressman, Treasurer Madi Cook, Senators Bryan Best and Cole Goetz, and graduate advisor Thomas LaPorte, were faced with converting a once bustling in-person club into a fully virtual hang out. As students and professors alike learned to navigate the new normal of “Zoom University” over the rocky Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 semesters, the Writing Arts Club reinvented itself, taking to a chat platform named Discord.
In the past, the club met weekly in Bunce Hall, focusing on collaborative story-telling and creating one big zine. Instead, for the Fall 2020 semester, members met for weekly voice chats. Shifting focus from the hard work of creating a zine, the e-board helped members develop their skills individually by shining a spotlight on new genres to play with each week.
Just like old times, members had a chance to share their work, share praise, and share laughs. Even though members were separated by distance, there were still plenty of chances to collaborate and ask for help using different voice chat channels and texting. Plus, to de-stress from our scholarly burdens, the Writing Arts Club held occasional game nights, generating roars of laughter with games like Cards Against Humanity, Among Us, and Skribbl.io.
During Fall 2020’s virtual finals week, the Writing Arts Club took time to de-stress with a hilarious game of Skribbl.io.
For Spring 2021, however, the club has reinvented itself once again. With “Zoom fatigue” a growing concern among virtual learners, the Writing Arts Club set its sights towards larger, occasional events rather than weekly meetings. These have included a Romance Night in February featuring workshops on the romance genre, and a Story Battle where members took part in a hilarious and flurried competition of who could write the best original story. The Story Battle was a smash hit, with Tara Grier coming in first place with a wistful story of the relationship between a singer and a strange fan.
Their last big event of Spring 2021? A fully virtual Open Mic Night held on Zoom, co-sponsored by both Avant Literary Magazine and the Communication Studies Club!
The Open Mic, generating a large turn-out from members of all three clubs, was a heartwarming affair despite the virtual setting, featuring passionate performances from e-board members Eric and Madi, as well as from Avant leaders Hannah Tran and Dina Folgia. This is not to mention the awesome work that students Matthew Berrian, Joanna Flynn, Gunnar Griggs, Kelli Hughes, Daria Husni, Kaitlyn Kratz, and Michelle Seitz had the courage to share that night – so moving that even my painfully shy self felt inspired to share a poem of mine.
Defying this past year’s difficulties, the Writing Arts Club has continued to act as a positive space at Rowan University, fostering a community grounded in creativity, encouragement, and support. Students of all majors and backgrounds are welcome to join in the fun of creative writing with the Rowan Writing Arts Club – and in spite of Zoom fatigue and distance, this writerly community is still going strong.