Student Activity Groups Excited to Get Back to Normal


Like every other part of the campus community, Wesleyan’s student activity organizations are learning to adapt to the realities of the pandemic.

The biggest change for many of those groups is a simple one—having the ability to get back together again.

Hundreds of students attended the university’s annual Student Involvement Fair (view photos) in early September, and the excitement was, understandably, quite high. Wesleyan’s wide array of activities are always an opportunity for students to expand their intellectual and cultural horizons.

For many, stuck in a pandemic stasis for almost two years, the Involvement Fair is a chance to interact with many of their like-minded peers for the first time.

“I just missed out on a lot of events because of COVID,” said Avery Kelly ’23. “I am looking at a lot of fun activities—a music magazine, an arts magazine, a comedy club. Just fun group things. It is nice to talk to people who are really excited about their stuff.”

“It’s more about the community spirit than the sport itself,” said Sophie Ross ’23, a junior who was hoping to interest people in joining a non-male identifying rugby club.

gag reflex

Students advertise Gag Reflex, the improv comedy group, during the Student Involvement Fair on Sept. 10. (Photo by Willow Saxon ’24)

Becca Baron ’23 spent the fair drumming up interest for “Gag Reflex,” one of Wesleyan’s improv groups. They had done a couple of shows outdoors spring of last year, but the group wasn’t able to hold auditions. This year, they plan on asking people to do a couple of scenes to show their stuff and they hope to perform more frequently. “There is definitely more energy,” Baron said.

Charlie Ruwende ’23 joined the Wesleyan Middle School Tutoring Program her first year. She, like many first-year students, signed up for everything. As her interests changed and activities dropped off her radar, tutoring young people was something that remained important to her.

Last year, she was unable to set foot in a classroom because of COVID restrictions. But there was an unanticipated benefit. Ruwende was still able to help tutor kids over Zoom, including one student with whom she created a particularly special bond. “I honestly had such a great experience,” she said.

The tutoring group adapted this year and moved to a hybrid approach, combining online tutoring with visits to Beman Middle School in Middletown. “The parents seemed to love it,” she said.

Some groups barely survived the time off.

The Latin Ballroom Dance team tried to make a go of it last year virtually, but the student interest just wasn’t there. The group leader wasn’t able to continue this semester, so there was a chance that the group would go away. Dance lover Rebeca Trevino ’24 stepped in to help. “I think it is a good way to revive the Latin spirit on campus,” she said.

She is working alongside fellow students to select an instructor, set a budget, and file university paperwork. “That’s a really new aspect for me,” Trevino said.

Trevino already has about 30 students interested in participating and also plans to connect with the greater Middletown community by teaching salsa dancing lessons at the Free Center.

Despite some of the difficulties of finding new members and learning new COVID protocol, after just a couple of weeks, organizations seemed to be back in the swing of things.

For example, Caelan Desmond ’24 and the Outing Club—one of the university’s oldest student organizations—have already had their first events, including trips to Bear Mountain, Mount Higby, and People’s State Forest, morning hikes, geocaching in the Indian Hill Cemetery, beach trips and sunrise swims. It’s a way to disconnect from the stress and competition of campus life. “All of these trips have gone incredibly well and have had an awesome turnout,” she said.

After a year of Zoom meetings where no more than 15 people were present, the first Outing Club meeting, held outdoors, had close to 200 students in attendance.

For Desmond—and many of her peers—simply being together was the true reward. “Being with the Wes students has brought me a feeling of joy and connectedness to the club that I have not felt before,” Desmond said.