Technology, time-zones and Microsoft Teams: Keeping Warwick societies connected

29 June 2020

Societies are an integral part of the Warwick community, bringing together like-minded students across different academic disciplines. While the coronavirus pandemic has stopped societies from operating as normal, BSc Management student, Shubh shares how they have adapted, keeping their members connected during these challenging times.

Societies are an important part of university life at Warwick. These societies not only give us the opportunity to connect with like-minded students, but also teach us beyond academics, allowing us to develop our skills and interests. In my two years of university, I have been a part of several societies, including Warwick Indian Society, Warwick India Forum, Warwick Consulting Society, Warwick Congress, and Warwick Enactus. I have even had the honour of becoming an exec member of a few of them.

These times of lockdown have underlined how diverse our teams actually are when you realise other members are several continents away, something you might have forgotten when you had your weekly meetings in the Rootes Learning Grid or when you travelled back home together to Leamington Spa.

COVID-19 may have put an end to socials and meetings, but it will not stop us from planning events and continuing to serve our members.

Thankfully, we live an age where technological advancements have made it possible for us to communicate, despite our exec members sitting in different time-zones and in different countries.

As a current Marketing Head, I have been part of the Warwick Indian Society’s activities online, and we have been mainly using Microsoft Teams and Zoom for our video conferencing. We hold our meetings once every two weeks as most of our execs have exams in term 3.

Instagram Story Bingo

After term 2 ended, and we all had to go back to our home towns, we initially thought all the plans we had made for Warwick Indian Society’s third term had been a waste. However, we soon realised that our social media engagement was the highest since the quarantine started. Our society came up with several online campaigns, such as Warwick Bingo, which was aimed at not only our society members, but all Warwick students, as it was something everyone could relate to.

For the purpose of this Bingo, we compiled a list of things we missed the most about our university life and used video call meetings and our WhatsApp group to help solve any queries. We received an amazing response to this campaign as several students reposted the Bingo onto their Instagram Stories and challenged others to share their memories. This allowed our peers to take a trip down memory lane.

Boosting online engagement

We also conducted several successful polls for students to share popular opinions, for example ‘Which is the best place to study on campus’ – ‘Rootes Grid’ or ‘the Library’. The questions generated several responses, engaging society members as well as other students.

As we considered that many people would be binge-watching various shows and movies, we also uploaded several lists of top choices recommended by our execs to help make social isolation a little more entertaining.

Another society challenged us to make an exec video during lockdown, so we made a properly choreographed dance video, all done through video conferencing. We compiled all our individual clips to make a full exec video, which was very entertaining for our audience to watch, and it got over 110 comments online!

Supporting our community online

As term three is a stressful term for all of us, with exams to take during these difficult times, we are currently uploading exam tips for our members to try to help our peers in some way.

Our societies are not merely for member events, but seek to make a difference. Many of our societies got together and we compiled a list of NGOs which our members could donate to in order to help the wider society we live in, and we were successful in raising a substantial sum of money and awareness.

Today, the majority of the world is living in uncertainty, and this can be very stressful. It is important that we prioritise our mental health and show each other that we are together in this boat, and that we will all fight this pandemic together. To support the campaign of mental health awareness, which Warwick has been promoting, we compiled a video of our execs talking about what they love about themselves and what keeps them happy and going. We have been in contact with over fifteen other Warwick societies, as well as those from other universities, who have accepted our request and are now are planning to do the same.

It is great to see all our student societies fulfilling their roles within the Warwick community by helping the wider society to the best of their abilities, while continuing to connect and support their members online.

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