Student Organizations Endure Amid Social Distancing/by Meredith Stratmann

When the first mentions of COVID-19 were whispered at the beginning of the year, few people foresaw the longer effects this virus would incite. While everyday things at Mississippi College have changed, like being required to wear a mask at all times, and daily checking in with the Campus Clear application, a number of policies regarding other university entities have differed as well. Perhaps some of the more talked-about adjustments involve clubs, tribes, and student organizations. 

On Tuesday, July 28, 2020, the Dean of Students, Jonathan Ambrose, sent out an email to all graduate and undergraduate students. This email, part of the “Better Together” series that MC is carrying out in response to the pandemic, is the third installment, and focuses on the “Student Experience.” In it, the new guidelines are spelled out for Welcome Week, student organizations, clubs, tribes, as well as a number of other groups.

The new policy regarding student organizations is that meetings and events will be held online to begin the semester, but this could differ “as health and safety guidelines change.” The fate of clubs and tribes is less clear. Recruitment has been pushed back to September, but no other information has been given to the student body about what meetings and recruitment will look like when the time comes. 

While many of the COVID-19-related reforms at MC have been met with varying responses, students are unified in the desire to stay on campus. This is the case, even for the leaders of student organizations who have had to move everything online. Kienna Van Dellen, president of MC’s pro-life organization, MC Students for Life, says, “MC Students for Life was brought together by a common goal of giving a voice to the voiceless and fighting for life, both before and after birth. Due to the COVID-19 safety guidelines, with our meetings going virtual, we are placing special emphasis on our social media, and the fact that the pro-life movement hasn’t stopped, rather it’s just getting stronger. I believe MC will transform in the same way, rising stronger and more unified than ever before.” 

Ethan Sakon, the social media coordinator for MC’s history club, focuses on how the role of social media is evolving, saying, “The main thing right now is to of course get people interested. Social media is the only line of defense for clubs. On the history club Instagram, we’ve been trying to figure out how to show examples of what the flu epidemic in 1918 was like and to show them that current masks aren’t as bad as the ones from the 1400s.”

On the clubs and tribes front, members of the Council are working to incorporate new ideas. Jordan Ball, president of Swannanoa Social Tribe says, “This school year is going to be a year of change for clubs and tribes. While events might not be the same as usual, the Council is trying to create a year that still promotes community for all students here at Mississippi College. At the moment a lot of organizations are getting creative in finding ways to connect with their people through Zoom and other online sources.  For example, talent shows hosted on Instagram, Netflix watch parties, and fun Kahoot games are just some of the things that have been thought up by the tribes and clubs. While we know this is not the same way that previous years have handled the fall semester, we as organizations are trying our best to focus on furthering our relationships with each other and striving for unity.” 

While events hosted by clubs, tribes, and organizations may look a little different this semester, the memories and connections made through these online events will hold strong nevertheless.

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