Student involvement wavers amid COVID-19

Clubs and organizations have begun to notice a decline in the level of student involvement this school year due to the COVID-19 restrictions for events and social gatherings.

Currently, events are restricted to only 10 total people without a faculty or staff advisor, and need to include at least 6 feet between every person involved. They also require the use of facial coverings. All of these changes affect the feasibility of certain in-person events such as the regular club meetings and traditions that the VWU community is used to in a normal semester. 

Even though in-person club meetings and events are fewer this year, that does not mean that those clubs are inactive. Student-led organizations are still holding regular meetings, typically online where a virtual meeting link can be accessed through their social media or site. These organizations are still working on hosting events, whether those are in-person, hybrid or virtual. 

“Campus engagement definitely looks different, but it is still happening, just in different forms,” Sarah Guzzo, Director of Student Activities, said. According to Student Activities statistics provided by Guzzo, submitted event requests from student organizations went down by 40% between the unexpected end of Spring 2020 and the end of the Fall 2020 semester. However, events hosted by Off the Hook increased by 110%. 

The Student Activities team has encouraged student organizations to “piggy-back” off of activities run by the office, simply by offering to join in a dual partnership. 

Club and organization leaders participated in a student organization leadership workshop this past month that focused on engagement in students, coming up with creative solutions to previously planned events or creating new ones, and preparing them for the Virtual Student Involvement Fair. Student-led organizations are also given a Student Organization Manual that has been updated to take COVID-19 restrictions and new rules into consideration that the organizations will need to be aware of when planning their events. 

In order to host an event, clubs and organizations must submit a request form and go through an approval process in order to ensure that the event follows CDC guidelines.

Despite COVID-19 restrictions continuously updating and making events harder to plan,  Student Activities has noted that since the beginning of this spring semester, 55 events have been registered so far. As of the end of last March, there have been 11 new organizations welcome to campus, bringing the new total of active organizations and clubs to 51. 

For students looking to get involved, active student organizations are listed on the VWU website under the Student Activities tab. Another way to get involved is to check the This Week emails sent out by the Student Activities office on Sunday nights, and by checking the Student Activities Event Calendar, which updates almost daily with new and approved events.

By Lauren Faulkner