Ohio University may not be operating through campus, but that hasn’t stopped students from taking the initiative to keep their organizations alive and well.
Several organizations have taken it upon themselves to stay active and keep their members participating remotely throughout the coronavirus pandemic. In keeping with the “stay at home” order, various student organization executive board members have been offering virtual opportunities for their members.
One of these organizations is Scripps Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). PRSSA is an organization that provides real-world experience to students with a public relations focus by bringing in guest speakers and providing educational tools for students’ success.
Vivian Moussa, a junior studying strategic communication, is the incoming president of PRSSA after going through a completely remote process for executive board elections. Though the process was complicated, Moussa says the pandemic won’t stop them from providing as many opportunities for their members as possible.
“We’re just trying to keep everyone as involved as possible,” Moussa said.
The goal is to keep the organization business-as-usual to an extent. PRSSA will still have weekly meetings through Zoom, an online video conferencing service. March 30 marks the first virtual meeting with guest speaker Demi Clark, who will talk about female empowerment and her career coaching service, She Built This City.
Aside from their meetings and virtual hangouts, Moussa has been trying to engage PRSSA’s followers on social media by posting Instagram stories and starting a Twitter campaign: #MyPRstory. People can use the hashtag to submit videos, pictures or text about what PR means to them.
“We want them to feel like they’re getting as much out of the chapter as they can, even though we’re not together physically,” Moussa said.
Another organization working to keep its members active is OU’s chapter of CHAARG, a health and fitness organization for women that has a presence across 70 college campuses.
Hannah Morris, a senior studying integrated media, is the vice president of media for CHAARG. She’s saddened by how most of their events have been canceled, but is working hard with the rest of the executive board to provide alternatives.
“It’s really exciting to see girls still active and wanting to attend online things we’re providing,” Morris said.
CHAARG is having instructors teach weekly workout classes through Zoom or arrange at-home workouts to send to all of the women. The first class was Buti Yoga, taught by OU Alumna Amy Baumgardner. They’ve also been holding each other accountable for working out by creating charts of workouts and making challenges for other members.
Morris believes the biggest part of what they offer is the connection with other women. The organization has a large group chat composed of all of the members, but within that they’ve created branch group chats for specific interests such as Tik Tok, movies, cooking and journaling.
Some groups that require in-person participation are still trying to engage their members. Lost Flamingo Theatre Company (LFC) has had to cancel all of its performances but is still working to keep its members excited about being involved.
Michaela Chilenski, a senior studying integrated media, is the current president of LFC and is extremely saddened by the cancellation of her last semester with the company.
“It’s very frustrating and disappointing,” Chilenski said. “I was directing my last show with LFC and I’m really sad I didn’t get to see my show come together.”
Other than the group’s extremely active group chat, the current and new executive boards are working together to plan for next year’s lineup of shows. First is the script reading committee through Zoom where they choose the shows, and then director applications will be sent out and handled remotely.
LFC’s executive board also created T-shirts for the members to order and is putting together superlatives for some of the members in lieu of their normal end of the year banquet.
These three organizations aren’t the only ones staying active on campus. There are several others working hard to keep their members engaged as well. Moussa, Morris and Chilenski are all hopeful for their organizations to continue without fail, and all agree that keeping their members active and engaged during the chaos of the pandemic is extremely important.
“I think having that sense of routine and familiarity during this pandemic is really good,” Moussa said. “It's been helpful for me to keep positive and know that we're all in this together. Everyone's going through the same thing and we can still have these shared moments, even if we're not physically together.”