Ohio University’s student organizations are reimagining how they will meet in the Spring to handle the influx of residential students arriving on-campus.
Many of the residential students planning to return to campus in the Spring have not been able to participate in any predominantly in-person student organizations due to their off-campus status. Those organizations, including campus club sports, have had to get creative when planning events for the Spring.
While some organizations have continued to meet and thrive through the online format, others have found it more difficult.
Ohio University’s Club Tennis team is one of the organizations struggling with the circumstances. Ryan Hugenberg, a junior studying aviation flight and aviation management and president of the team, said the club tennis team has tried to make the most out of the situation.
“We are practicing three times a week. Because of COVID we’re currently allowed to have 10 people on the court at one time, but we only have like twelve people on the team,” Hugenberg said. “We've had roughly 30 people, contact us … freshmen and sophomores.”
The team hopes to include new members in the Spring by picking up more court time and having more practice days. They may introduce a group A and B system to avoid large gatherings, Hugenberg said.
The team has not yet been allowed to have any tournaments or matches against students from other schools. Despite this, Ohio University’s Golf and Tennis Center was able to set up one internal tournament for the team.
“It's still not the same with seeing all the other teams from all the other schools … I hope that we'll be able to figure out something that everyone can come back safely and we can get back to the fun,” Hugenberg said.
Bobcat Cornhole has also struggled during the Fall semester. Dawson Steele, a junior studying both marketing and business law, is the president of the organization, which only just started in February.
“We had scheduled for our very first cornhole little event the week after spring break, but as you know, nothing really happened after spring break, COVID shut us down,” Dawson said.
Given that cornhole involves passing bags and standing in close proximity, the group has not found a great way to hold in-person events. The group has also struggled with being promoted, but as they grow, Bobcat Cornhole plans on raising money for food drives and holding tournaments.
“We kind of wanted to get it going to where we can have meetings at least twice a month,” Dawson said. “Hopefully, it gets to the point where once me and my friends graduate, we could pass it down to somebody.”
Sphere Magazine, on the other hand, has been able to embrace the online format.
“One thing that we had been working on, just in the past years that I've been here working on Sphere, is establishing an online presence. So this actually was very timely for us because we just launched our website,” Andrea Gapsch, a senior studying English and the managing editor for the magazine, said.
Sphere previously had about ten members, but this year the magazine has doubled that to 20. Because of this, the organization will have to continue holding online Teams meetings once to twice a month.
“It would be nice to be able to hold meetings to discuss this online stuff in person, but we're going to keep doing social media campaigns,” Gapsch said.
Still, Sphere has run into some issues with the online format. The magazine is typically printed in the spring every year so they were not able to get it printed while dealing with COVID-19. Luckily, the group just found enough funding to have both last year’s and this year’s magazines printed.
While student organizations will each have different approaches for the Spring semester, they will all be working towards creating safe environments for students to get together and have fun doing activities they enjoy.