COVID-19 continues to affect campus organizations in many ways


Kathryn O’Pella / Hilltop Views

The Spring 2022 Involvement Fair was held in the Mabee Ballroom with several COVID-19 guidelines in place for students and faculty. The fair allows students to get to know about clubs and organizations on campus they can become involved in.

It’s the start of the Spring semester, and many new and familiar faces showed up for the St. Edward’s University Involvement Fair Jan. 27 in the Mabee Ballroom. Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has presented, students gathered to learn about the clubs and organizations available to join on campus. 

“The biggest challenge we face when organizing the fair is managing COVID capacities and how many people we can have in the event at any time,” Director of Student Involvement Carey Mays said. 

The festival-like event was free to the entire Topper community. Free cookies were provided by Tiff’s Treats, and music was provided by Spotify. Each table had things to give away such as flyers, magazines, puzzle pieces, stickers, pens and packaged snacks. About half of the 100 student organizations were represented including APO, Asian Student Association, Ballet Folklorico, Black Students Alliance, CABRA Magazine, Campus Emergency Response Team, Jam Central Club, Phi Alpha Delta Pad and Pride Club.

Many have wondered how the pandemic has changed the way organizations are run and how it has affected club membership. Those running the clubs and wanting to join them noted similar effects. The pandemic forced clubs to go online, so organizations turned to social media such as Discord, Instagram and Zoom. This made it hard to build personal connections. 

“COVID had a significant impact on clubs because Zoom is less interactive with speakers,” Daniela Ramos of Phi Alpha Delta said. 

For the most part, there was a decline in participation. Nyla Pete, president of the Pride Club, said “even game nights on Discord fell flat.” However, membership has increased now that clubs can meet in person or on a hybrid basis. 

Some clubs fared better online than others. CABRA Magazine and Jam Central Club have increased their membership. More people have joined CABRA Magazine since 2020, according to co-editor Helena Elizardo. 

“I would definitely say more people joined organizations after COVID because people right now are looking to have better connections and meet people with similar interests,” Elizardo said. ”We have seen closer to 100 people looking to join and have actually had to turn people away for the first time.” 

The music club, Jam Central, started during the pandemic. The number of club members has increased since last year when it started. “[You] come here to forget about your anxieties and problems,” president of Jam Central Santiago Clark said.

The Black Students Alliance has seen an increase in attendance because of the interactive events they host. 

“[The club] brings people together,” social media coordinator Justin Taylor said. “Black students don’t have a space on campus to be their unapologetic selves or meet other black students.”

Other clubs have had a harder time maintaining membership. The American Medical Student Association changed how the club ran by finding service opportunities on campus in order to meet social distancing guidelines. The number of people attending volunteer drives drastically reduced. The lack of shadow opportunities at medical facilities and meetings over Zoom created disconnect compared to in-person events. 

Overall, students at the Involvement Fair said they enjoyed meeting in person, seeing new faces and seeing people come together. Senior Michael Houston said the fair was “set up well and went beautifully.”