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OU student organizations rely on social media to recruit new members among uncertainty of in-person recruitment

Ohio University’s student organizations plan to use their resources both virtually and in-person for recruitment in the fall after a year disrupted by COVID-19.

With many underclass students off-campus for the entirety of the 2020-2021 year, student organizations struggled to grow their numbers in a virtual setting. Social media pages and Bobcat Connect, an OU webpage where students can find information on student organizations, became large platforms for organizations who wanted to continue operations.

OU Extra Life, a group of students who plan a 24-hour livestream to raise money for Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, has relied on these resources to recruit members for the student organization. Jolie Boros, a senior studying communication sciences and disorders, is the president of the student organization. 

“The past year, it was hard, mostly because we were just trying to figure out how to even go about it. Bobcat Connect helped somewhat,” Boros said. “We've also been using social media more often and posting about our club.”

With the graduation of many members, Boros hopes to recruit younger members to build up the organization’s roster. In the fall, OU Extra Life plans to hold recruitment events and begin a weekly livestream, Boros said. 

Similar to OU Extra Life, the Swim Club at OU also relies on Bobcat Connect. The Swim Club at OU President Brad Golski, a senior studying computer science, said Bobcat Connect and word of mouth have been their best forms of recruitment in the past year.  

“I have a lot of people reach out to me, just emailing, inquiring about the Swim Club…I think they probably see my name on Bobcat Connect,” Golski said. “Oftentimes, those people know some other people that might be interested and that's kind of how we get a lot of our numbers.” 

As an in-person student organization with a practice schedule, the Swim Club at OU has not done much virtual recruiting but is open to the idea, Golski said. The student organization has hopes to bring back past members as they return to campus. 

“Typically, we try to reel people in during the involvement fair…but, of course, we didn't have that luxury this past school year,” Golski said. “Hopefully, there will be an involvement fair where we can get some new people.”

As of now, the university has not confirmed the status of the Student Involvement Fair or the allowance of informational tables on campus by student organizations. 

“We are working with public health experts on guidance for these types of events. We hope to have more information to share soon,” Jim Sabin, a university media relations manager, said in an email. 

OU ALLIES, a new student organization which began during the Spring Semester of the 2020-21 school year, has utilized a mix of social media, word of mouth and Bobcat Connect to establish its presence on campus. Daniela Grijalva, a recent OU graduate and masters student in the program of law, justice and culture, is the incoming vice president of the organization. 

“We created social media platforms that we diffused around our various networks, and we also got in contact with a lot of the programming offices at Ohio University, so programming centers like the LGBT Center and the Women's Center,” Grijalva said. “It was also a lot of word of mouth from the people that were originally the (executive) members reaching out to friends and colleagues.”

OU ALLIES Recording Secretary Lillian Demellia, a junior studying management and strategic leadership, emphasized recruiting possible members for even one meeting.

“I know we want as many people to be able to come…even if they can just make it to one meeting or one open forum,” Demellia said. “I think our whole message is important, and even if they could just come for one meeting and get something, take something from it.”

The programming centers have helped the organization through the creation of emailed newsletters, Grijalva said. As a student organization operating through uncertainty, OU ALLIES plans to use a flexible and adaptable recruitment model for the future.

“We're going to be recruiting folks, hopefully, in person…(with) flyers around campus and in different locales and Athens town, being present in classes…we're also going to have a presence at the involvement fair,” Grijalva said. “We'll be following any and all COVID safety precautions to ensure that we're there safely.” 


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