Ohio University’s student organizations plan for more in-person meetings in the Fall Semester after struggling with inconsistency during the 2020-21 school year.
Due to the pandemic restrictions set in place by OU regarding student organizations, many groups have had a hard time dealing with the online environment. New Chords on the Block, an a cappella group, is one of those organizations.
President Ana Colon, a junior studying vocal performance, said New Chords on the Block tried to send out music virtually for the members to learn on their own in the Fall Semester, but a lack of participation stopped the organization from moving forward. That continued in the Spring Semester as the group tried to have a few in-person rehearsals.
“Everyone was obviously busy, and it was really hard to get this together while trying to do online school,” Colon said. “This semester, we tried to do kind of a mix of online and in-person rehearsals, but again, it was really hard to get people motivated to come to the rehearsals.”
Music Director Nathan Stanley, a junior studying music, said the virtual environment lacked the special feeling of being in New Chords on the Block.
“When it's not what you're used to, it kind of feels like a kick in the chest,” Stanley said. “It makes sense that not a lot of people wanted to go out of their way to do something when it didn't feel legitimate to what we're used to doing.”
As the organization looks to the future, New Chords on the Block wants to get back to rehearsing in-person. Colon said it is looking for larger rehearsal spaces in Baker University Center, and the group hopes to do performances and competitions again.
“There's a collegiate a cappella competition around the United States … we'd like to try to compete again,” Stanley said. “There's a whole bunch of other events that we typically get invited to at different schools … all the a cappella groups get together at the end of every year typically and have a huge event that we call ‘invitationals.’ So, we're hoping to be able to get at least some of those things back next year if we're able, safety permitting.”
Bobcat Twirlers has also struggled with getting members involved online. Current President and incoming assistant coach Miranda Scott, a senior studying interior architecture, said participation has been an issue.
“It's very difficult … Twirling is kind of like dance. You have many different styles, and people are taught differently,” Scott said. “It's very difficult to try to teach and have them learn things through video … I don’t try to get onto too many people about it because I know it was a rough year.”
The Bobcat Twirlers is in its third year as a student organization, and Scott said it is still trying to establish a level of respect. The group has only been able to participate in a few virtual performances this year.
“We only had one event last fall — it was a virtual competition. We just got together for a day and kind of threw something together,” Scott said. “We did a couple of virtual events over winter break and stuff that was open to the community, too … This semester, we did another get together like what we did last fall.”
Incoming President Abby Golden, a freshman studying musical theater, said getting involved with social media has helped the organization. The group hopes to begin meeting in-person again in the fall and get back to its performances.
“We usually do two or three basketball games. We've done a couple of baseball games our first year of being active, and then I guess had the homecoming parade and then the Involvement Fair,” Scott said. “I think, football games, definitely, maybe within the next few years … It'd be so nice to be invited to do things.”
Bobcat Productions has been stuck transitioning this year, as it has started to change its mission as a student organization. Current president Drake Turner, a senior studying integrated media, said the organization plans to become an official chapter of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
“Traditionally, Bobcat Productions was a student-ran collective of different digital media production clubs on campus that ranged from Friday's Live to AVW Studios to Bobcat Productions Presents Hockey, but with COVID, we've kind of cut all the shows loose to do their own things to be creative on their own,” Turner said.
Turner said the Bobcat Productions Executive Board was previously a middle man to deal with finances and distribution of content. Without the need for this service due to the separation of the different production clubs, Bobcat Productions will be rebranding itself.
“(Bobcat Productions is) looking for people that are wanting to focus more on learning about the standards that the media industry has towards video quality, audio quality, the production side of it,” Turner said. “They're all planning to meet in-person and to have weekly, maybe bi-weekly, meetings, where they talk about seminars … (Bobcat Productions) will offer kind of exclusive scholarships and opportunities that you wouldn't get as a non-member.”