Clubs Face Unique Event Challenges

Megan Oldak, Multimedia Editor

The days when students would walk into the Banks Student Life Center and see four or five club tables set up in the lobby feel like a distant memory.

These days, most clubs are required to move activities, including meetings, fundraisers and other events online due to safety protocols put in place by the university.

Darcy Brodmerkel, Director of Student Engagement, said the number of events clubs are able to do has definitely decreased, but she is proud of what she and her team have been able to accomplish. She said collaboration between Student Engagement and Residence Life has helped in planning creative and safe events.

“I was able to pull off Homecoming that was either all outside and socially distanced, or in the case of the talent show, virtually done allowing students to perform and all others to enjoy,” she said.

She added that despite a decrease in events, she has noticed an increase in the amount of students who attend.

“The turnout is usually good because I feel students are welcoming the opportunity to get out of their rooms and enjoy time with their friends and have some fun,” Brodmerkel said.

Other campus organizations have been able to successfully adapt to the changes and still keep a sense of normalcy. Beyond Harmony, the student choir group, is one example.

Jennifer Klobe, senior occupational therapy major and music director for the group, said they were given permission to continue to meet in person as long as all members wear masks and maintain proper social distancing. Klobe said she is grateful for this because she was worried about the club’s future if they had moved online.

“Zoom meetings were not realistic for us as a singing group, and if we would have had to meet over Zoom, I think that would’ve drastically decreased the number of things we could do,” she said. “Compared to other clubs, Beyond Harmony has been very lucky that we can continue to meet in person. I’m very proud of our club’s willingness and ability to stay safe during practices by always sitting at least six feet apart and wearing masks while singing.”

However, one major obstacle that still stands in the singers’ way is not being able to show off the fruits of their practice with live performances.

“The biggest impact COVID has had on Beyond Harmony is our ability to perform. We often perform throughout the community, but of course, in-person performances have not been possible,” Klobe said.

Other campus organizations have not been as lucky as Beyond Harmony. MUnited, the LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has had a particularly difficult time adjusting to the effects of the pandemic, according to Club President Lauren Schuster.

“Admittedly, it’s been tough getting events approved as COVID guidelines change and as the university tries to stay one step ahead in terms of health and safety,” said the senior English major. “In the past, a good number of our events were things like dinners, speakers, attending shows together as a group. It’s been challenging trying to adapt the group for COVID in a way that still allows the same amount of student involvement.”

Schuster said many of the club’s activities depend on large social gatherings, so trying to come up with virtual events that have the same impact as in-person ones is a challenge.

“I think MUnited hasn’t gotten the opportunity to be as active a group as it usually is,” Schuster said. “We often attend community events or seminars, and usually have a number of social opportunities for new members.”

However, she said she is working with other club officers and members to come up with alternative activities.

“It takes innovation to find options for fun, unique events that can happen in a socially distanced setting,” she said.