Another Covid 19 Victim

Another Covid 19 Victim
by Suellene Petersen / K6CPA (PIC)

The UCSC ham club is one of our local Covid 19 victims because the student organizations on campus have been shut down due to social
distancing and lock down of meeting rooms. Unfortunately, the lockdown occurred at a time when students were busy with finals and graduation thus
were not able to elect new officers or recruit new members timely. Thus the club is in limbo.

The club was started in 2002 by Professor Stephen C; Petersen, AC6P. The club has thrived on campus with most of the members being Electrical
Engineering students. However, now they cannot access the club’s meeting space to hold elections, meetings and training sessions. All of their communications equipment is now beyond reach to them. Many of the students moved away after graduation. Although now the remaining students are proficient in conducting and participating in Zoom meetings, there are many aspects of the club that require face to face activities. One such task is recruitment.

The club members have grown their communication skills by conducting weekly nets, designing and building antennas, engaging in satellite communications and developing a student VE team under the supervision of the Santa Cruz VE Group. These activities do not thrive when social distancing is necessary, nor can they be conducted via internet meeting programs such as Zoom.

Typical university student ham clubs are comprised of people who are usually members for 1-5 years depending on the school. During that time they are taught how to run meetings, hold elections, design and build antennas, and participate in Field Day exercises. In other words, they generally perform like our local ham clubs with one big exception. When they graduate, they usually move to some other location.

When the students move away, they take all of their skills with them and many join local clubs in the area in which they have relocated. This is good because they are young and their ham skills and keen interest in ham radio is invigorating to the local ham clubs. Many of our local club members are predominantly silver haired experts who have the ability and desire to mentor these new young hams. That is one way that we pass on our love for ham radio. At least, that is the way it is supposed to work. With Covid-19 raging through the world and collecting victims we cannot put ourselves and fellow hams at risk by ignoring social distancing and wearing masks.

Until we either get past Covid-19 or we discover more new ways of practicing the art and science of amateur radio, we may be looking backward and remembering the way it used to be when we could easily train new hams. It appears to be that way at UCSC.