By Victoria Weaver
Student organizations and extra curricular activities are often used as a source for some to make friends and connections, as well as an outlet for students to engage in activities other than school work. Unfortunately, after COVID-19 struck, human contact became a hazard and in-person meetings became virtually non-existent.
The University of Tampa has recently announced that faculty and staff are making plans for classes and activities to return in person next semester. The announcement implied that the restrictions for social distancing will be lifted for classrooms as well as social gatherings. To many, this information has come as a surprise and if the school is to follow through with these plans, student organizations may need to reconsider their own.
At the beginning of the pandemic almost every organization was forced to adapt to a virtual platform to continue their meetings and practices. A number of organizations chose to hold their meetings via Zoom and continued to do so when the school opened again the following semester.
President of the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi (KKPsi), a national honorary band fraternity, and junior business management major, Dylan Clark, said that along with necessary restrictions came less participation and low enthusiasm.
“It’s really difficult to go through an entire week of online classes and then have to sit through another hour of staring at a computer screen,” said Clark. “Attention spans have been difficult to maintain.”
A number of organizations have actually already made the switch back to in-person meetings, but with heavy precautions, so the transition won’t be too much of a burden on upcoming executive boards. Although face-to-face meetings are preferred, doing so safely brings its own challenges.
Not only have organizations had to follow Spartan Shield, the school’s current guidelines, but they have also had to follow their organizations national rules as well. Some of UT’s organization leaders worry that the school’s decision will have no effect on them due to their own laws.
Campus Crusade for Christ’s (CRU), a worship based group at UT, national restrictions were particularly intense, only allowing for half of the number of people in a room together that would normally be allowed by the school.
Other organizations like Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, have had to make sacrifices to follow these restrictions. President Ryan Fisher, a junior theater and communications major, said that his chapter made the decision to take no new members this semester. They have also struggled to find students willing to rush during a pandemic.
Holding events and hosting fundraisers is an important aspect for clubs and the lift of restrictions might even allow them to socialize with other groups, but even this may come at a cost. As the school relieves itself from control, the onus is placed onto individuals to keep the community safe and healthy.
“I hope that people will still be wearing their masks and social distancing,” said president of CRU Morgan Devol, a senior international studies and spanish major. “People might not realize the impact those things could have on others.”
Devol takes this matter very seriously with her club as her sister is immuno-compromised so she knows personally how this virus can affect others.
The school will of course still require masks for as long as they are necessary but some students worry that with less enforcement will come less concern with the virus. It will be up to the organizations themselves to decide if they will maintain a safe environment.