Meeting new people, exploring different interests and furthering your education are all integral aspects to the college experience. In a pre-COVID world, people would go out of their way to interact with one another through parties, games and club events.
Six months into the pandemic, socializing has a whole new meaning that comes with a lot of new rules and restrictions including a social distancing requirement and a campus-wide mask mandate.
These new rules affect everyone, especially those who often plan social events for sororities, fraternities and clubs. The purpose of clubs at Montevallo, as with any student group, is to bring people together who share a common interest or goal.
Doing so in an environment where students, quite literally, must stay apart has been challenging not only for the student body as a whole, but also for the people trying to keep their organizations afloat. With most events and meetings being held virtually for the safety of the community, the transition comes with a new set of struggles.
The Montevallo Organization of Gaming (MOG) is a club that is “dedicated to promoting a friendly atmosphere for all types of gaming activities.” Members are encouraged to play all kinds of video games, card games, board games and tabletop games.
It also maintains a large variety of games and supplies that students can use as they please. They are one of the many clubs at Montevallo that has had to adapt meetings and events to University guidelines. Ashton Craig, president of MOG, plans to play it safe this year while still hosting events on different online platforms.
“We are planning to move MOG online this semester to eliminate the chances of catching and spreading COVID amongst our members and the community at large. To that end, we plan to only have two physical meetings, being August 1st and 3rd. After that, all our meetings will be held over Zoom and Discord, where students can come and join in tabletop RPG games and look for people wanting to play online multiplayer games such as Civilization,” said Craig.
Crocs Club is an organization with the purpose to “unite a vibrant community of students who proudly wear Croc shoes.” They encourage members to, “be bold, take risks, and “come as you are.”
Abigail Clark, president of Crocs Club, also expressed her concern about the upcoming school year and the risk it entails, also switching almost entirely to online.
“We are planning on staying safe by having the vast majority of any and all meetings be over Zoom or a virtual platform. So far everything is going smoothly and we have added around 40 new members to our roster since the start of the year. Our club is fairly new so it should be an easy adjustment to doing online meetings, and I think we will have a great turn out!”
Madelyn Alexander, a current sophomore and the Career and Personal Development chair for Chi Omega gave insight on how her sorority is handling the virus so far this year.
“All events are happening over zoom, and all members are held accountable for their actions by the entire chapter. What we do affects each other. The biggest change we have had to make for an event is our virtual Wish Week for our philanthropy, Make-A-Wish,” said Alexander.
Chi Omega is just one of the many sororities that held recruitment virtually. Because Greek life is a personal commitment and a significant part of the college experience for so many people, having recruitment over Zoom definitely took quite a bit of planning and adapting.
“We had a very well prepared process for recruitment, including plans for any technical issues that did happen, though there weren’t many. Recruitment went well all things considered.”
Jenny Bell, the director of student life at the University of Montevallo, also spoke broadly about how these organizations and so many others have been adapting to the new rules and regulations, as well as how she plans to respond to new challenges over time.
“As far as student leaders go, they have all been receptive and understanding of the guidelines that have been put into place for student organizations this semester. Organizations have mostly been planning to have meetings and events virtually, and the few that have been approved for in-person events have submitted comprehensive social distancing plans,” said Bell.
“Things change quickly with COVID, and it’s hard to predict whether or not future restrictions or guidelines will be needed to keep our campus community safe. We have to just take it day by day right now and do what’s best for the safety of our students, faculty and staff.”