Student clubs at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) have been forced to find ways to adapt to the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines in order to stay active on campus.
The emphasis put on remaining socially distant changed the social aspect of college life.
Many students turned to clubs and organizations to maintain a sense of community.
According to their website, Best Buddies is a global organization with over 3,000 chapters, including one at UNH.
Aileen Coen, the president of Best Buddies on campus, has been a part of the organization since high school.
“Our focus is on integrating young adults from the community with intellectual and developmental disabilities into kind of the social sphere that we see here at UNH,” said Coen.
During a normal year, members of the club usually attend sporting events on campus, host holiday parties, watch movies, and participate in karaoke nights.
“Our organization, the foundation of it is really relationships,” Coen said. “Yes, we try our best to have these fun events and to do silly and exciting things, but at the end of the day, our primary focus is building friendships.”
Best Buddies made the decision to go completely remote this semester. According to the university’s Coronavirus FAQ page, people who plan to access campus must participate in the school’s testing program. This rule would exclude many people who are a part of the organization.
“For us, as an organization that is focused on getting to know people and loving people, it really is a challenge,” Coen said.
The Black Student Union (BSU) also decided to operate remotely this semester. According to their page on Wildcat Link, “BSU seeks to provide Black students and allies a space to gain knowledge.” They focus on educating people about Black identity, culture, and social justice issues.
Lourde Honore, a member of BSU, emphasized how welcoming the club is to new members. “It’s opened to any student that is willing to come and learn.”
In previous years, BSU hosted Roll Bounce which is an annual roller-skating event. They also arranged a Martin Luther King Jr. Opening Tribute and fashion shows.
“Right now, exec is trying to figure everything out, so I haven’t been to a Zoom meeting yet,” Honore said. “Everything is so up in the air.”
Operating remotely affects the community that is created during in-person events. “I really miss going and being there in person because it’s something different from your week,” said Honore. “But now it’s on Zoom.”
The BSU had their first meeting of the semester on Sept. 30. According to an email, they played a game of jeopardy with prizes.
MOSAICO, the Latinx student organization at UNH, promotes cultural awareness and celebrates Latinx culture. They conduct their weekly meetings in person, but they also provide a Zoom link for those who prefer to participate remotely.
Joslyn Villavicencio, the business manager of MOSAICO, worked hard on the proposal for their yearly Latin Heritage Dinner. “I literally had to make sure that I could get every single detail in about the COVID guidelines and what we’re doing to social distance,” Villavicencio said. “Everything has to be thought out perfectly.”
The two-day, in-person event includes food and dancing. Those who want to attend must make reservations in advance.
“Everything is just to-go,” said Villavicencio. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, all of the food is packaged at the restaurant. “All we have to do is grab it and give it to the person that’s coming to pick it up.”
Members of MOSAICO are willing to go the extra mile to assure that everyone remains safe and healthy during their in-person events. “Our priority is to keep everybody safe,” Villavicencio said. “MOSIACO is known for its big events and I think we’re trying to keep up with that name.”