To align with COVID-19 policies and safety regulations, events at Southern have shifted significantly to meet these new standards. As Southern and Student Association (SA) implement changes for what events can entail and how many attendees may be present at one time, cultural clubs on campus are also faced with figuring out how they will host their events.
While clubs are still allowed to host events this semester, there are restrictions on what clubs are able to do and what guidelines to follow. According to Director of Student Life and Activities Kari Shultz, Zoom meetings have been conducted with club presidents and their respective faculty advisors to relay information in regards to hosting events so clubs can host ‘COVID-friendly’gatherings.
Vice President of Latin American Club (LAC) and junior business administration and public relations major Joel Guerra said that due to the circumstances, LAC has decided it would be in the best interest of the club to not host in-person events for the fall semester. He said that a big push for the decision was the inability to serve food directly to students at events, unless it is prepackaged, due to the set regulations.
“There are a lot of precautions and red tape that we would have to get through to host an event to the point where hosting them seemed impossible. And if possible, they wouldn’t necessarily live up to the standards we have [for our events],” Guerra said. “As people know, food is a big part of all of our Latin American Club events. We love sharing our culture through food, and so without food, we lose a lot of the aspect of events.”
According to Guerra, LAC is increasing its online presence and engaging with members via giveaways and other social media activities to make up for the lack of events. This past week, they continued their Hispanic Heritage Month activities by encouraging students to FaceTime their families, screenshot it and tag LAC on their Instagram story for a chance to win a $15 gift card.
“We are trying to embrace the situation rather than being scared of it and backing away, and just going forward with what we have,” Guerra said. “Like most clubs I would imagine, we’ve never really been in a situation like this where we aren’t allowed to really do much.”
Black Christian Union (BCU) and Asian Club have decided to move forward with hosting events, according to their respective club presidents. Senior health science major and BCU President George Ambroise said BCU plans to host their events outside to meet COVID-19 guidelines, but there isn’t much planning they can do.
“Our plan this semester is to have more intimate, spaced-out events,” Ambroise said. “Everything that we’re planning to do, we’re planning to do outside. Hopefully, we can get in some sort of community service, but other than that, there isn’t really much planning we can do.”
According to Ambroise, six-feet social distancing, masks and hand sanitizer stations were all encouraged at their Welcome Back Party, along with a tent where students could do temperature check screenings with the university’s help. He added that his team of BCU officers has also been a great support in these uncertain times.
“One of the high points is the team that I have,” Ambroise said. “They’re really supportive and willing to help out with the different things, especially if I don’t have time.”
According to Asian Club President and junior nursing major Issac Abraham, Asian Club will also be hosting events this semester and will strive to keep all the guidelines and avoid as much in-person interaction as possible. He said a main reason for continuing to host events is to justify the membership dues that were paid.
“We want to provide our members, especially our freshmen [members], a chance to socialize and get to know each other and enjoy their time here,” Abraham said. “For this semester, we finished two events. One was a care package giveaway for all our members, and our second was Zoom speed dating. With COVID guidelines, it is different.”
While the planning proved to be challenging, Abraham said the challenges created a space for the Asian Club officers to be creative, start anew and create their own theme in comparison to previous years where tradition has greatly shaped the events. Still, he said that it was disappointing to have to leave out some of Asian Club’s traditional events.
“There are some traditional things that Asian Club does every year, like Mango Fest where we give out food,” Abraham said. “[More than challenging], it was disappointing in a way because of all of the traditions. But for encouragement for other club leaders, just keep doing what you’re doing. Hopefully we’ll all get out of this whole situation. But if not, let’s make the best of what we have.”