With COVID-19 forcing clubs and organizations to move from in-person to online formats one year ago, many still face several challenges with the new rules and regulations.
The Student Association (SA) is in charge of the rules and regulations of the clubs on-campus and has also been forced to remodel its office due to COVID-19. The SA has opened virtual office hours and is running all public board meetings through Zoom to reduce in-person risks. All restrictions placed on events are reviewed and updated in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Binghamton University’s guidelines, according to Khaleel James, president of the SA and a senior double-majoring in economics and human development.
“Our [Executive Vice President (EVP)] has been working day in and day out to make sure event guidelines are out every time there is a change as well as ensuring she and her team are reviewing every event that is submitted,” James wrote in an email.
Most events that are submitted by clubs and organizations have changed from in-person meetings to more online events, some with limited success. For example, the American Red Cross Club, a service group that aims to fulfill its humanitarian mission by preparing for, preventing and responding to emergencies, has found trouble hosting online events.
Since most of their events revolved around community service, such as clothing, food and blood drives, Saif Ahmed, president of the BU American Red Cross and a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, said the group has had mixed success in adapting to an online format.
“Some of it has worked out, such as de-stress events, which came in the form of game nights, and some did not, as we tried doing a paint and sip event but could not figure out the logistics of distributing supplies to our members,” Ahmed wrote in an email.
New COVID-19 regulations can also be a challenge to some music clubs that focus on in-person meetings, but No Strings Attached, BU’s “one and only Broadway & Disney a cappella group,” has found a way to adapt to these regulations by scaling back the size and frequency of their meetings while still finding ways to rehearse and perform.
Abby Bossert, public relations manager of No Strings Attached and a junior double-majoring in psychology and human development, said the group’s performances will look different during this semester.
“We are planning on doing a cabaret where group members can perform solos and songs in small groups,” Bossert wrote in an email. “We plan to either post these over time on our Instagram account or livestream the performances.”
While No Strings Attached has found a way to adapt to new regulations, another music club has not been able to make this change. Explorchestra, a composers’ orchestra based at BU, has had trouble meeting in-person, according to Briana Mannarino, historian of Explorchestra and a junior double-majoring in psychology and theatre.
“Due to the nature of our club and the effects of the virus, our club has not met this semester,” Mannarino wrote in an email.
Chabad at Binghamton, a Jewish organization operating out of BU that provides varied programs and opportunities for students, usually has 300 to 400 students in person for Shabbat dinners. To conduct Shabbat dinners in a COVID-19-safe manner, Chabad has added an RSVP texting system, so students can sign up online.
Michael Khaldarov, president of Chabad and a senior majoring in business administration, has found serving students to be one of the biggest challenges.
“We are so accustomed to serving as many students as possible and providing for as many as possible,” Khaldarov wrote. “Having to limit ourselves this year has been the hardest thing for us for sure because our goal every year is to be available to absolutely everyone.”
Model United Nations (UN), which trains and fields a Model UN team to compete in competitions, has a hybrid meeting model where meetings occur three times a month online and one time in person. The club uses online time to teach members about Model UN activities and in-person time to have mock conferences.
Matt Wolson, president of the Model UN and a junior double-majoring in political science and economics, has increased the group’s social media presence on Instagram, B-Engaged and emailed potential new members.
“This method has worked incredibly well, as now [we] have more members showing up to general body meetings than ever before in our club’s history,” Wolson said. “We maintain this by ensuring that each week we spend time getting to know each other before we get into learning any material.”
James wants to ensure future semesters will be just as safe depending on the development of COVID-19.
“We as the SA will make the changes that will [be] best for the safety of the students,” James wrote. “I cannot say at this moment what that looks like in terms of COVID-19, but I can say we will have that in our train of thought.”