Pros and Cons Club Goes Virtual

Matthew Wong and Marshall Wong
Video by Sebastian Jones

A pessimist sees the glass half empty while an optimist sees the glass half full.

When the community is confronted with dire circumstances, we need to think outside of the box and seek new opportunities. Hence, the Pros and Cons Club launched our first virtual club meeting on Monday. You might be wondering — what exactly is the Pros and Cons Club? 

The Pros and Cons is a club that wishes to facilitate meaningful discussion regarding controversial global issues within the UCC community. We believe in the fundamental benefits of critical thinking and a multi-perspective approach. The topic of this week’s meeting was the COVID-19 pandemic and below is a summary of what we discussed:

Affecting ¾ of the world’s population, the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly in today’s spotlight. The Pros and Cons club’s first virtual meeting approached the issue of COVID-19 from multiple perspectives. The Pros and Cons club was delighted to invite more than 15 different voices and perspectives for the first meeting. 

The meeting started with the introduction of COVID-19; including the symptoms, transmissions, and precautions, in which the club members were well-informed. Then, we addressed the difference, in terms of the incubation period, vaccination, hospitalization rate, and fatality rate, between Influenza and COVID-19. This differentiation is critical as it helps us to better comprehend the severity of the virus and justifies the imperative nature of policies such as Social Distancing and National lockdown. 

The club then examined Canada, China, Italy, South Korea, and the United Kingdom’s policies to contain the spread of the Coronavirus. The club evaluated policies in terms of effectiveness, ethical standards, and privacy. In particular, the club examined the United Kingdom’s herd immunity policy. The club was divided on this policy; Arjun Rastogi argued that the policy was “effective considering the limited health resources some countries have in hand” while Roman Bharti argued that the policy was “extremely risky for countries with a high percentage of elderly members.” Italy’s policy of “curing those with the highest therapeutic success” spiked debate among the members. Sebastian Jones suggested that “it’s the best use of resources”; Cole Jones echoed Sebastian’s sentiments by saying “it’s fair as long as the selection isn’t based on socioeconomic status and race.”

The meeting ended with the discussion of the silver linings of this pandemic which included: reduction in carbon emissions, global solidarity, exploration of online education, and the necessity of a diverse supply chain. Acknowledging the exceptional circumstances we are facing, the club wishes all the students and their families well. 

Students probably received an email from Mr.Babits earlier this week announcing that all clubs will be re-launching after April 6th. The idea of a virtual club meeting is unprecedented, hence there will be a lot of challenges for the club heads. Since the Pros and Cons Club already conducted our virtual meeting, we feel obligated to give other club heads some advice to consider:

  1. Setting ground rules for the meeting is imperative to avoid chaos. In an attempt to prevent members from talking over one another, we asked them to mute their microphones and mandated the policy that if they wanted to ask a question, they should type the letter “Q” in the chat bar. Likewise, if they wanted to answer a question, they should type in the letter “A”. The club head is responsible to acknowledge the letters typed into the chat bar and call upon them to speak.
  2. Always record your meetings for the following purposes:
    1. Keep members accountable for their behaviour (Avoid profanity and inappropriate language)
    2. Allow for club heads to analyze their meeting for future improvements
    3. Allow for absent members to catch up with missed meetings
  3. Come up with prompting questions to effectively facilitate discussion and try to avoid yes or no questions:
    1. For instance, instead of asking: “As the Prime Minister of Canada, would you adopt China’s draconian measures?”, ask them “ What do you think are the strengths and limitations of China’s measures in combating the coronavirus?  Do you think it will be a good fit for Canada?”
  4. Send members links for research before the meeting date to make discussions more efficient.
  5. Outline the consequences of members violating the ground rules and ask your club advisor to enforce them when necessary.