On Campus Clubs Adjust to Virtual Formats to Adhere to COVID-19 Guidelines

As students, teachers and administrators at Fordham University make changes to pivot around the COVID-19 pandemic, so too do student leaders on campus who want Fordham students to still have an enriching extracurricular experience. 

Adhering to health guidelines from NY State and the CDC, club events and programs will still be allowed to continue,” said Francesca Leite, assistant director for Student Organizations and Programming. “However, programs will be modified to adapt to the needs of social distancing and attendance limitations. Since class schedules will be a mix of in person and virtual classes this semester, it is also being recommended that virtual components be included in event planning so all students can participate wherever they may be.” 

Thomas Reuter, FCRH ’22, executive vice president of the United Student Government (USG), described the general sentiment of USG as “semper ad meliora,” meaning “always onward to better things” in Latin. 

“It will certainly require a concerted effort to help USG adapt to an altered semester but, as is true with all students and clubs, we have a responsibility to do so in order to keep our Bronx and campus community safe and healthy,” Reuter said.

Marissa Moran, GSB ’22, CEO of Smart Women’s Securities (SWS), said the greatest difficulty in organizing a club this year will be recruiting students virtually.

“SWS is a large organization that typically recruits upwards of 50 freshmen each year,” Moran said. “Without a more formal, in-person club fair, it may be more challenging to encourage students to join, and the virtual format may make it more difficult to retain membership.”

For the Campus Activities Board (CAB), the inability to organize large events in the surrounding area poses the greatest challenge, according to Lianna Meehan, FCRH’21, president of CAB.

“I think the most difficult part of this year is going to be finding events downtown in Manhattan as well as in the Bronx area,” said Meehan. “The closure and postponement of fun events such as sports games, broadway shows, and museum tickets, amongst others, have made it a little difficult to find fun things for students to do off campus.”

In order to adhere to the restrictions released by the Fordham administration that limit social gatherings of up to 10 people, the Residence Hall Association (RHA) will be conducting all meetings via zoom.

“Because the general board of RHA is so large, we have made the decision this year to have all of those meetings via Zoom, and will advise all hall boards to adopt the same policy,” said Sandor Lorange, FCRH ’21, executive president of the Residence Hall Association.“We have been using this style of meeting over the summer to plan and I think we’ve definitely grown very comfortable with that medium.”

While circumstances also pose a substantial obstacle for the Commuting Students Association (CSA), they have seen this transition into an online format as an opportunity to aid students’ professional development. 

“CSA will be teaming up and holding a lot more professional development programming this year due to COVID-19 because having events such as resumé rushes, alumni coming to speak and interview practices are simple to hold online,” said Guy Savino, GSB ’22, executive president of CSA.“These events not only allow students to meet new people, but it aids them in their future and career paths.”

Cynthia Bush, director of Undergrad Career Advising for the Gabelli Undergraduate Personal and Professional Development Center (PPD), said PPD cares tremendously and wants to support students in every way that it can. 

“Upperclassmen can volunteer to help and will kindly be helping do resumé reviews for lowerclassmen. We are also doing PPD Mock Interview week where alumni from top firms such as Goldman Sachs, American Express, the Big 4 accounting firms and more will be doing virtual mock interviews and providing feedback to students,” said Bush.

USG said they will be marketing ways to get involved on their social media and advise anyone interested to go to usgrh.fordham.edu to learn who is on USG, hear about recent updates, reach out to USG committees, obtain information for clubs and more.

“Additionally, any undergraduate student can apply to one or more of our eleven committees to take an active part in initiatives, events, and policy proposals,” said Reuter. 

To be involved with the Smart Women’s Securities, students can continue to attend posted meetings and seek out virtual “coffee chats” with other members and speakers.

CAB will be recruiting new General Board members for this upcoming year and encourages any student interested to attend their virtual events and engage with their Instagram stories and posts. 

“While a lot of what we will be doing is going to be virtual this year, we are still hosting some in-person events,” said Meehan. “I would encourage those that are comfortable doing so to come on out and enjoy the events CAB is going to offer on campus this year!”

CSA will hold virtual elections for their entire General Assembly Board starting at the Club Fair. Students can sign up at the virtual Club Fair which will take place on Aug. 26. 

“If you can’t make it to the Club Fair, we will send out an email the following day with a link to sign up,” said Savino. “After signing up, there is a campaigning period from September 9-16 and finally elections on the 17th and 18th! Come to the club fair to learn more about CSA and how to get involved!”

“I encourage anyone and everyone who is interested to run for general board in their residence hall, and there will be emails shortly into the school year giving students more information about this,” said Lorange. “For non-resident students, I highly recommend getting involved with the Commuting Students Association, with whom we’re going to be working really closely this year!”

The Office of Student Involvement (OSI) said it wants any student leader on campus to know it can provide beneficial resources and information during this chaotic time. 

“The Office for Student Involvement remains open and committed to assisting clubs and organizations with planning and implementing programs with the new guidelines in mind,” said Leite. “In addition, the office will have supplies available for clubs to use as well (extra face coverings, hand sanitizer, etc).”