Stanford Women Organizations Find Unexpected Growth from Remote Quarter
Stanford University, like many others, operated completely remote this fall quarter. And for Stanford students, some things were clear: there would be no more club picnics on Meyer Green, the comforts of the Women’s Community Center (WCC), or the chance to simply run into one another on Stanford’s iconic sunny campus. But looking back as they wrap up their final week of the quarter, leaders of several women’s clubs at Stanford recognize the lessons learned and the pleasant surprises that have come out of these chaotic times. Despite the challenges of virtual community building, student groups, especially the women’s community, have found innovative ways to not only overcome but make the best of today’s virtual reality.
One of the greatest concerns for organizations serving marginalized groups virtually has been re-creating the space necessary to support their members.
“The hardest part was not having everyone physically in one space,” explained Vivian Tang, Class of ’22 and VP of Internal Programming for Stanford Women in Business (SWIB). “So much of SWIB is the community. We usually meet every Tuesday night at the WCC on the super comfy couches. It’s a really small area so everybody is forced to get close to each other and talk to each other so that’s where all the connection happens.”
This concern has been echoed by many other clubs where the organic process of meeting and building relationships with other members is key in their success. Nevertheless, Stanford’s women’s groups have approached this issue with creativity. In addition to virtual lunches through DoorDash and Among Us sessions, many groups have opted to bridge this gap using Glimpse, a video platform that matches people for one-on-one, time-boxed video calls with games, ice breaker questions, and a photobooth.
Stanford Women in Medicine(SWIM) used Glimpse for their fall mentorship mixer to make their pre-medical mentorship program more meaningful for the participants.
“Glimpse made the process so much easier,” explained SWIM’s chapter co-presidents, Geeta Rajmanji, Class of ’21, and Ina Lee, Class of ’22. “It was fun chatting with everyone and we appreciated all the additional features… We hope to be able to use Glimpse in the future!”
Other groups have used Glimpse to welcome in new members and host meet and greets. Glimpse supported the Stanford Society of Women Engineers, or SWE’s, fall intern welcome. “We loved it. Can’t wait to play around with how to use it more in the future,” shared Marinna Smallidge, Class of ’21 and SWE’s chapter president.
When asked to reflect on the past quarter, many of these groups share positive insight.
“Although we were pretty worried about everything being virtual at first, some wonderful things have certainly come out of this experience,” said SWIM Co-Presidents, Lee and Rajamanji. “Turnout at our events actually seems to be a bit higher than in-person — likely because it’s easier for people to simply hop on a Zoom link, rather than bike all the way across campus to go to an event.”
SWIB’s unexpected and positive surprise was their ability to promote wider community building. With an intern and extern program, leadership at SWIB must balance programming for both groups, in addition to general member programming.
“We realized this year that people are craving community, so we’ve actually turned a lot more attention to our externship program and greater community programming… Covid has been beneficial in making things a lot more inclusive,” said Tang, SWIB’s VP of Internal Programming.
Looking forward to another (unfortunately, highly likely) remote quarter, these groups have some key takeaways.
Stanford Women in Medicine’s advice? “In today’s virtual world, it’s all too easy to let friendships and mentorships within the club slip if careful attention isn’t given. We’ve learned how important it is to deliberately reach out… Although this virtual world is perhaps disappointing and not ideal, it does open up ways to innovate and improve club meetings, through the use of new technologies, online games, etc. Take advantage of this!”
And Stanford Women in Business also had some wonderful insight. “One of the biggest lessons we learned is to not be shy over Zoom. I think our club has taken a huge initiative to create 1:1 bonding events to force each other to get over the Zoom shyness and really talk to each other. We learned to kind of be a little obnoxious and ask people to talk and to meet (virtually, of course.)”
If you’re a group seeking to create meaningful experiences for your members, Glimpse is happy to help. Check us out at www.joinglimpse.com and we can help you get started!