Returning to Campus: Whats up with EvCC’s Writing Club?

The table for the Writing Club at the farewell to Winter Quarter club fest. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Zook

Rachel Zook

The table for the Writing Club at the farewell to Winter Quarter club fest. Photo Courtesy of Rachel Zook

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world in many ways, including the education of many, as well as extracurricular activities and the opportunities they provide. Although cases have lowered and the restrictions have been lifted, the effects have lingered. Communities that were once flourishing are now uncrowded and quiet, and they are finding it difficult to continue being active at Everett Community College.

The Writing Club is a club advised by Aaron Barrell. He has been advising the club since 2018 and has seen the effects that the pandemic has had on it. “It’s been a real challenge to bring everyone together during the pandemic, and we’re certainly not back up to pre-pandemic membership numbers.” The club once had many participants, with members, officers and planned events such as fundraisers. However, once the campus shut down, the club stopped meeting. Starting last year, the club began meeting mostly online, but with a small fraction of the member count. Now, a few students meet once a week, although currently, the club is not officially active due to low attendance.

As many have experienced in the last two years, meeting online is vastly different from meeting in person and many people prefer to attend classes and clubs in the classroom setting. Barrell has witnessed exactly this with the club – “Functionally, we can do most of what we do in person quite well online. But socially, as one might expect, it often seems harder for members to connect with and get to know one another when meeting only online.” There is a disconnect that is experienced with this type of meeting, no matter how one might try to simulate these as face-to-face activities. This barrier deters students from trying to take part in the meetings. However, the online format has also introduced new components into the social dynamic of the club. There has been a Discord created for the Writing Club, used for communication between the weekly meetings. Barrell said, “That space feels to me now like a permanent part of the club, so it will be interesting to see how members strike that balance–between seeing one another in-person and messaging online–once membership is back up.”

The official icon for the Writing Club, used for the club’s Discord server. (Rachel Zook)

Rachel Zook, a member of the club since Winter quarter, Zook stated that she enjoys the current online format of the club – “It gives me a lot of flexibility of where I can be and what I can be doing.” She told of the only time there was an in-person meeting during her time with the club, saying that only one person attended. The few other members were unable to attend, but if there were more members, these meetings would be more successful.

The club gathers once a week on Thursdays to share snippets of stories and ask for critiques in order to improve it. Zook says she’s had more success getting peer reviews than she expected, and has gotten help on things like characterization. “Because I’d written one that I thought was pretty good, but then when I read it, I got advice that was saying otherwise. I ended up getting a lot of really good advice.” Through hearing others’ stories, Zook has also learned of new perspectives that she can possibly use to improve her writing. “There was a man who was actually a janitor on campus, and I particularly really loved having his stories. And learning from different people’s perspectives and different people’s styles, I was able to pick up more things.” She says that the club is a very kind and welcoming community that she hasn’t had before.

Emily Backstrom, another member that has been with the club since Winter quarter, describes the importance of the community. “Writing and any form of art isn’t complete until it’s been experienced by someone else, so it’s nice to be both an audience member and a sharer of writing.” Through sharing and listening, a person’s writing gradually improves. Backstrom also said, “Being productive as a writer means getting a little lonely, so having a group to encourage each other and give feedback is really important.” This community not only helps people improve their writing, but also gives these writers an opportunity to escape from the isolation that their hobby can create.

Now that clubs at EvCC are able to meet in-person again, the Writing Club is looking to recruit more members for these activities to resume. As student life and activities resume, more and more students will become active members of the community again. Barrell states “I think a college is most vital when it brings students into community with one another both in and outside of the classroom. Our clubs, and Student LIFE, are a vital part of that.”In this statement, Barrell is hoping that the writers of EvCC take interest in the Writing Club and are moved to be a part of the attendance. 

The Writing Club meets on Thursdays at 1 PM. For more information, contact Aaron Barrell at [email protected].