Reinventing The Student Life Experience

As the doors of lecture halls and classrooms were made to shut, Student Life activities had to also come a standstill when the Covid-19 pandemic first struck. Confronted with unprecedented challenges to organise activities, student leaders had to rethink ways of engaging their student communities. With over a year passed since then, we speak to committee members from our Student Life Clubs to find out how they have adapted and reinvented to ensure that students continue to enjoy a meaningful university life in SIM.    

8 Dec 2021

5 mins read

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Could you share with us what were some of the initial challenges that your Student Club faced when the pandemic struck?

When the pandemic struck in 2020, a dilemma arose in the Club as all of our activities were held physically in school. Many of our Club members were on their way to graduation, while some had already graduated. Thus, the main task of the Club at that time was to recruit new blood to keep it running. We attempted shifting the gaming sessions online, but human touch is essential in playing board games and hence, we found it difficult to do so.  

How did the students in your Club feel about the sudden disruptions to Student Life activities during that time?

I noticed that some of them felt trapped at home and were demotivated about the whole situation. The members were disappointed as they were not able to participate in the physical activities in school that they enjoy. All the EXCOs were feeling helpless as we didn't know what we could do during that time.

What actions were taken to support the students during this difficult period and how has the Club evolved over time?

To adapt to the changes and restrictions, there were several initiatives that we came up with. These included things like going on Instagram Live, organising online board game sessions, opening a YouTube Channel and organising our first ever online Halloween Escape Room and Murder Mystery game events. It was a great honour to receive the Outstanding Event Award (Gold) by SIM for this! Various changes have been made. We have currently adopted an online/offline session culture. If we are not able to host games physically, games will be hosted online via a discord group.

As a student leader, what are some of your key takeaways on leading the Club during this pandemic?

As a student leader, I learnt that we need to be ready to adapt to changes in our lives. Many things can change in a day. We need to be ready to face these changes. It will not be easy but you are not alone in this journey. As corny as it may sound, keep pressing on and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel eventually. Don't give up. If an introvert like me has managed to do all these, I'm sure that you will be able to do them as well. Have believe in every situation.

Would you have any words to share with students who are considering on joining your Club?

As a Year One student, I contemplated on joining the Board Game Society but when I eventually signed up, I was greeted by the members who were cordial and hospitable even though I wasn't familiar with the games they treated me like I was one of them. This has been engraved in my mind. Likewise, I am inspired to welcome students and do my utmost best for this Club. To all current and prospective students out there, the Club welcomes you with open hands. Your time in this school may come to an end quicker than you expect and this is a great chance to make the most of it by socialising with students from other courses and making new friends while having fun!

P.S. Follow us on Instagram @SIMGEBGS. We are hitting 500 followers real soon!    

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Could you share with us what were some of the initial challenges that your Student Club faced when the pandemic struck?

The pandemic has definitely been a challenging time for all Student Clubs, SIM Students' Christian Fellowship (SIMSCF) included. One of the biggest initial challenges was facilitating meaningful fellowship through online means. A big aspect of the Christian faith is community. With the inability to meet face-to-face, Zoom became the go-to platform for the club to meet. We soon discovered that Zoom could not fully recreate the real, tangible experience of Christian community, but only an approximation of that. This lack of engagement was a real issue that we had to tackle.

How did students feel about the sudden disruptions to Student Life activities during that time?

I think that most students in the Club understood the necessity of these disruptions, but I believe many were still negatively affected. Many members lamented the fact that they had not been to campus in months or even at all. In Christian fellowship, we have smaller groups called cell-groups (CGs), and I think many students also yearned to be able to meet their CG mates in person, but they could not, or had to do so through de-centralised means (meeting one or two others due to Safe Management Measures).

What actions were taken to support the students during this difficult period and how has the Club evolved over time?

With the challenges of engagement and fellowship, the EXCO has tried our best to create the most conducive environment possible to encourage fruitful and heartfelt discussions, even through Zoom. This has meant a stronger emphasis on our cell-group leaders. These are the individuals who lead these cell groups and know their CGs best. We've relied on them to ensure that each of our club members' well-being are taken care of. We've also had to digitalise many of Christian fellowship elements such as worship. Since live music has generally not been allowed in the pandemic, we've utilised YouTube videos, recordings, and sometimes even have had the worship leaders lead worship at a separate venue while it was live-streamed over Zoom. I think that the Club and Christian community as a whole have also begun to embrace digitalisation in the ministry- something which was perhaps neglected previously. We have started to see the fruits of this in the two recent online camps, where in both camps the programme teams have created engaging role-playing games through digital software.

As a student leader, what are some of your key takeaways on leading the Club during this pandemic?

My biggest takeaway is that adaptability is key. In this pandemic, things move so quickly. Rules change, regulations are modified and evolve. It is incredibly important for student leaders (and their EXCO) to stay on top of the current restrictions. It is also crucial for student leaders to work closely with the school and their Club advisor to stay up to date with the institution's changes as well.

Would you have any words to share with students who are considering on joining your Club?

If you are an SIM student who is Christian or is exploring Christianity, do join us to have a Christian community on campus. We continue to dive deep into scripture and learn more about God every Wednesday night! Everyone in SIMSCF is here to support each other even in these difficult times and we would love to have you! You can find out more about us at our Instagram @sim.scf or email us at cf@mymail.sim.edu.sg!    

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Could you share with us what were some of the initial challenges that your Student Club faced when the pandemic struck?

The pandemic has affected how we market our events and made it harder to reach out to students in SIM. We had to explore various ways such as reaching out to lecturers to share information about our Club with their students. We also had to utilise messaging platforms such as Telegram to communicate with students and market our events in various chat groups. Another challenge that we faced was keeping the events more engaging and interactive. As the events were all conducted via Zoom, we missed interacting and connecting in person.

How did students feel about the sudden disruptions to Student Life activities during that time?

The events conducted via Zoom made it more accessible to students as they could attend them in the comfort of their homes. We've seen a rise in interest and turn up rates for our events during the pandemic. As students cannot attend any physical activities, they are also keen on learning how the pandemic has affected the work-life environment of the professionals in the industry during events.

What actions were taken to support the students during this difficult period and how has the Club evolved over time?

We adapted as a Club to revamp our events by including interactive games for our participants to compete with one another and to win prizes to keep them engaged. We also extended Q&A sessions for students to ask panellists questions through various applications such as Mentimeter at events. SIM Accounting Association (SIMAA) has grown to be more adaptable, receptive and creative in bringing value to the students in SIM. Besides making our events more interactive, we also had workshops that focused on soft skills such as personal development and project management. SIMAA strives to continue providing value to our students online to prepare them for their working lives.

As a student leader, what are some of your personal takeaways on leading the Club during this pandemic?

I've learned to be more adaptable and creative. My team had to adapt to the new challenges and restrictions that the pandemic brought to us. This taught us to expect the unexpected and always to take precautions should any of our plans fail. Creativity played a significant role in our events to excite our participants. As we lacked the physical aspect of our events, we made up for it by having a more interactive event to allow students to have more fruitful experiences. New marketing ideas were also executed to enable us to reach a wider audience.

Would you have any words to share with students who are considering on joining your Club?

I'd like to share three different ways how joining a Student Club has helped me. Firstly, it has given me exposure and in-depth knowledge of other accounting bodies (ICAEW, ISCA, CPA) and their professional certificates which I intend to pursue. Secondly, I've also gained a wealth of experience from the industry professionals we have invited for our events, who have shared valuable insights on the accounting industry. Additionally, by listening to management executives, I applied the tips that they shared at events to secure internships at Grant Thornton and PwC. Finally, I've learned the importance of teamwork and enjoyed working together with students from diverse backgrounds. Through this Club, I was able to forge meaningful friendships, and it has been helpful, especially during the pandemic. I'm sure that by joining SIMAA it would bring about much growth, challenges and friendships for you, just as it did for me. Keen to enhance your student life experience?

Find out more about our exciting wide range of Student Councils and Clubs here!