Dr. Rachel Clark, the faculty-in-residence at Wartburg College, decided to organize virtual on-campus programs as a reponse to COVID-19 shutting down most activities including Stitch-and-Bitch, the Reading Club and Sunday Storytime. 

Stitch-and-Bitch is a program for anyone on campus who does stitching to work on their projects via Zoom while getting to know others with the same hobby. 

“Being able to take an hour to just talk with Dr. Clark and other students while doing something creative that is not required was what I really enjoyed about Stitch-and-Bitch,” Savanna Richardson, second year neuroscience major, said. “It relieved my stress; it was a nice get away from homework and it was nice getting to know Dr. Clark and other students on campus better.” 

 The Reading Club allows students to meet via Zoom while listening to peaceful music while also reserving a few minutes at the beginning and end of the hour to share progress, book recommendations, and more. Sunday Storytime is being made into a podcast this semester, so anyone can listen at any time. This term’s novel is Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray.” 

“I decided to focus on connection and restoration for this semester’s faculty-in-residence activities because the pandemic has us all feeling isolated and exhausted,” Clark said. “Until we can safely gather together, I felt like the best use of my faculty-in-residence time would be to build community in any way possible.” 

These activities created by Clark serve as a way for students to take a mental break from their studies, and focus on activities that make their minds work in different ways. 

“Informal activities like the Stitch-and-Bitch and the Reading Club let people pop in whenever they can and find others with a similar hobby,” Clark said. “They are low-pressure, and they provide the relief of an hour just to relax.” 

As each of the activities are either via Zoom or available in a podcast format, Clark has already began thinking about the future for Stich-and-Bitch and the Reading Club. 

“Once I can safely host activities in the faculty-in-residence apartment, I’ll probably continue with the Stitch-and-Bitch in person, but the Reading Club and podcast will likely shift to other ideas.” 

Students like Amber Sweeney, first-year music education major, said she enjoyed the spaces Clark created to allow students to relax and take some time for themselves. Sweeney encouraged other students to participate in the future evets Clark might host.  

“With everything going on right now, it’s hard for people to sit down and give themselves some personal time,” Sweeney said. “I feel like Dr. Clark provides a great space for people to just relax and be themselves.” 

Being the faculty-in-residence, Clark said she took great pride in organizing new activities on campus to help free people’s minds due to the stresses COVID-19 can cause. In fact, Clark began planning for what clubs she hopes to be a part of when it is safe to consistently gather together. 

“I would like to connect with Alliance, Black Student Union, I-Club and Asian Student Association,” Clark said. “Once faculty are less stressed out by pandemic teaching, I would love to reinstate the Wartburg Weird series, where faculty come over and introduce students to an unusual hobby or research interest of theirs. And I’m also looking forward to implementing my longest-standing dream: a British T.V. club.” 

Students interested in Stitch-and-Bitch, Reading Club and/or Sunday Storytime, contact Dr. Clark by email at rachel.clark@wartburg.edu or check your email for a message from The Juice with more information and Zoom links.  


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