Durham, NH—The coronavirus (COVID-19) forced University of New Hampshire (UNH) clubs and organizations to adapt to change this semester.
The New Hampshire Outing Club (NHOC) normally leads over 100 trips per academic year, according to one of the club’s leaders, Matt Clarke.
“Sadly, I am not doing as much work as I would like to,” said Clarke.
Trip leader and leader activity coordinator Kenyon Schick said going on trips is essentially the NHOC’s core purpose. COVID-19 has prevented trips this semester and made club involvement difficult.
Schick said the scope of his role has been extremely limited.
“I would normally be planning events for outing club leaders to bond,” Schick said. “It has been very difficult to run in-person events.”
The NHOC is only hosting online and on-campus activities, such as slacklining and indoor rock-climbing. Outdoor gatherings need to be planned and scheduled with the university, according to Schick.
“Rock climbing has been a challenge,” said Clarke. “The wall inside the gym is not allowing groups to congregate around.”
Schick said meeting weekly online has allowed for as much student interest and participation as possible. “The club hopes to do more as time goes on and as we continue to adapt to the pandemic.”
NHOC president Maggy Biega “has done an amazing job adapting and leading in such unprecedented times,” said Schick.
COVID-19 has similarly impacted WUNH and Alpha Phi Omega (APO), according to Kelsea Batchelder.
As a member of APO, Batchelder said the fraternity converted to a completely online setting, including community service and fellowships.
Batchelder’s DJ position at WUNH has strict rules on cleaning the station. Only one person is allowed in the studio at a time. New DJ’s must be trained via informational videos rather than in-person. All meetings are online.
“Both organizations have done a great job running as normally as possible,” she said.
Batchelder misses attending meetings for each club and seeing everyone in person.
Meanwhile, the UNH Ski and Board Club is not hosting any in-person events this semester, according to Vice President Caroline Wilson. Instead, they hosted sign-ups and pass sales virtually.
“We were going to run online events but … we really didn’t want to make people sit on their computers longer than necessary,” said Wilson. “We are trying to be more active on social media to still allow club interaction.”
Wilson said some operations have been more challenging because of their role as a campus recreation organization. “There are more levels we have to go through to make an event happen rather than if we were a MUB club.”
Ski and Board’s largest event, Get Out of Bed and Shred (GOBS), has been postponed until the spring. It is usually the highlight of Wilson’s fall semester.
“That was something I was the most bummed about,” said Wilson. As a senior, this would have been the fourth and final GOBS that she helped organize.
“I miss seeing other people and being able to get together to do something we all love” said Wilson.
Clarke misses having a space for NHOC members to hang out in. The office is still open, but it has been less lively due to social distancing restrictions.
Schick said he misses meeting students through trips. He said the NHOC gives students the opportunity to network and connect with people who they may never meet otherwise.
“So many of my close friends and memories at UNH have resulted from these trips,” said Schick. “It breaks my heart that others won’t be able to experience the same for the foreseeable future.”
Schick guesses that next semester will have similar circumstances.
“It is my sincerest hope that student travel will somehow be allowed,” said Schick. “But for now, everything will have to be on campus.”
Clarke said that the NHOC want to continue events and create student engagement. “We will be focusing on making that happen when we return in the Spring.”
Ski and Board Club wants to host in-person events and provide more on-snow activities next semester, according to Wilson. They are planning to provide transportation to the mountains on the New Hampshire pass.
Batchelder is assuming that APO and WUNH will operate in a similar structure next semester. “It is entirely possible things will be different next semester, but it is too early to tell,” she said.
Schick said UNH clubs and organizations are continuing to learn. “The process is very challenging, and our biggest goal right now is to keep people safe and healthy.”
Photo Courtesy of Dan Tuohy