The pandemic and the virtual pivot have changed a lot for my chapter, but we are lucky in that our existing leadership structure adapts well to our new circumstances. Below is a short summary of how we operate, what works, and what doesn’t.
At our school, many clubs employ the junior- and senior- director model. Essentially, the senior leaders are two second-year students. Early in the school year, they recruit two first-years for the role of junior director. Recruitment takes the form of social media posts, listserv announcements, and hosting a table at the (now virtual) clubs fair. The application is short and anonymized to promote equity. Once selected, the junior directors work closely with the senior leadership to plan, promote, and execute events. Junior directors then graduate to senior directors the following year, and the cycle repeats.
This structure is great because it eases the incoming leadership into the role; mentorship is built-in. Our foursome becomes a close-knit exec team and we all share the responsibilities pretty equally. There is also less pressure to get a ton of numbers – you just need two motivated people with an interest in reproductive justice. The downside of this model is that we don’t actually have membership. Our club is really just the executive squad, as all our programming is open to every student. Nearly every student group at our school is like this. But what we lack in community feel, we try to make up for with thoughtful and engaging programming. We also try to partner with other Canadian chapters where possible to increase participation. I hope this helps other MSFC chapters to consider a similar model!
We have been fully virtual since mid-March 2020 and all of our recruitment has been online. We have seen a decrease in attendees to our events as serving lunch or dinner on campus was always a major incentive in the past, but it has resulted in more intimate discussions during our events. This academic year, we participated in a virtual Student Activities Fair, our primary recruitment event for incoming M1s. The school held it via virtual Zoom rooms and we prepared a few slides with information on the types of events we have as well as contact information. We also write and send out a monthly newsletter to our members with information on current events, a brief history lesson on reproductive justice, and action items. It is fun to compile and allows our members to see us pop up monthly in their inbox as a reminder we are still here!
We are currently in the process of transitioning our e-board so that M2s can phase out of leadership and focus on Step 1 studying – this also allows us to have multiple e-board elections throughout the academic year (one early in the fall to recruit M1 reps and one in the winter to transition those M1 reps into leadership roles). Progressively transitioning M1 reps gives them the exposure to hit the ground running once they take over leadership roles. Our M1 rep this year in particular has been wonderful about coming up with creative events we can host virtually and spreading excitement about it throughout her class.
Recruitment and involvement are definitely down this year compared to last year, but without our M1 rep, it would be even lower than it already is. Our M1 rep has been crucial to our success this year.