Student Organizations Resurrect from COVID-19

COVID-19 has become a part of current society in the last two years. Now it is normal to see people with masks and keeping six-feet apart from each other. This new reality pushed student organizations to innovate ways to provide engagement and a community to BW students.  

In March of 2020, YJAB (Yellow Jackets Activity Board) immediately stopped doing events. Mary Bierman, President of YJAB explained the organization had trouble finding its footing. 

“We have events throughout the year, at least two or three per month.” Bierman said, “So when we had to go home… YJAB had no idea what to do.” 

YJAB remained for some time without events since students went back home and stayed with their families. Bierman explains they realized they needed to do something to keep their organization alive and to provide connections between students. So, YJAB began putting on virtual events. 

“We had to change the way we plan events, but also be able to make sure the events we’re doing are helpful and good for our students,” Bierman said. 

First-year students entering BW during the throes of the pandemic in 2020 had a hard time knowing where to get involved and how to do so, said student David Muro, president of Philosophy Club, who was a first-year in Fall of 2020.  

“My first semester coming in, there might’ve been an involvement fair.” Muro said, “I don’t even remember it. I didn’t attend it.”  

During his first semester, Muro didn’t know Philosophy Club existed until he saw flyers around a building. Muro is one of many students who were not aware of the virtual involvement fair that happened in Fall of 2020. The lack of knowledge about the 2020 Involvement Fair created struggles for organizations to adert for their events and recognition of their existence. 

In Philosophy Club, attendees gather to talk about a wide range of philosophical topics. Even though anyone can participate regardless of whether they are philosophy majors, they experienced low attendance during the Fall of 2020 and the Spring of 2021.  

“I definitely notice the greater turnout this semester [Fall 2021],” Muro said, “ And I think that’s also because of the broadcasting that we are doing.” 

YJAB and CAB (Commuter Activity Board) also got affected with the low attendance and COVID overall. John Shepherd, President of CAB explained that Fall of 2021 was been better than the previous two semesters.  

“Hardly nobody showed up [in the earlier pandemic semesters],” Shepherd said, “Now that they’ve gotten the vaccine against COVID, they feel more ready to go back on.” 

CAB pizza is an event that occurs every week on Thursdays at the SAC (Student Activity Center) where for $2, attendees are provided all-you-can-eat pizza, cookies, and juice. CAB added karaoke to the event in Spring 2021. However, the continuous lack of attendance has created struggles to the point that CAB, in the last weeks of Fall of 2021 made the pizza events free. 

“We thought that we should just do it for free.” Shepherd said, “We’ve definitely been having a greater turnout from it.” 

Most student organizations’ main struggle is the attendance levels to multiple events that were both big and small.  

Investment Club is one organization in which COVID has had a positive effect on their successful growth. Gregory Steinberger, president of Investment Club, explains during these COVID years they had more attendance than prior years. 

“We actually grew significantly, which I believe is a big thanks to the fact that everybody was stuck at home,” Steinberger said, “And wanted to do something this year.” 

The Investment Club, a club designed to give students hands-on experience managing an investement portfolio, grew from 20 members to 50 members during COVID, while other organizations have struggled to recruit new members. Even after their membership doubled, they still faced struggles. 

“Dealing with a pandemic is, of course, having to deal with some people being not able to make it,” Steinberger said. “But over the course of last year, we were able to essentially find ways of working around it if necessary.” 

YJAB, Philosophy Club, CAB, and Investment Club officers advise other student organizations to use BW resources to promote their organization, such as participating in the Involvement Fair, use the TV advertisement, and hang posters around campus. Another recommendation is to use word-of-mouth to promote events, this means spreading the word out to friends, classmates, and roommates.  

“Be promotional at your club in any way that you can.” Muro said.