When the University shut down spring 2020, many things on campus were postponed or canceled altogether. Now with classes back in person, campus organizations have begun to carry out meetings and events in person whenever they can.
Student Involvement Coordinator Drake Summers said many organizations have already begun or plan to hold in-person meetings and events. He noted that Student Activities Council and Student Senate have already held their first in-person meetings of the semester, following CDC guidelines and Maryville emergency orders and mandates.
Summers said this semester’s Student Organization Fair had 92 organizations register for the fair, which is the highest number of registered organizations to participate in the event that he has seen in his two years for the spring organization fair.
“That tells me student orgs are really excited and eager to get back, kind of, in the swing of things,” Summers said.
Summers said based on the number of organizations that have registered events on BearcatLink and the number of organizations that participated in the organization fair, many plan to hold in-person meetings and events.
According to a letter from Kori Hoffmann, assistant vice president of student affairs, Maryville had declared that it was in category 1, or considered an “extreme risk” Jan. 6. What this category called for, per the Seventh Emergency Order Requirements, is that only 10 people are allowed to attend a social event at a time.
This has since changed. Maryville is now considered in category 2, or “critical risk.” This allowed for a maximum of 25 people to attend social events at a time.
Summers said that organizations who want to hold events in person or virtually are encouraged by the Office of Student Involvement to register the event through BearcatLink. From there, the event, if it is in person, goes through a two-step approval process.
Summers explained that Hoffmann reviews the request to hold an in-person event. If he approves, the request is then sent on to the student staff of the Office of Student Involvement for their approval as well.
Random Acts of Kindness is one organization that is holding in-person meetings and events.
President of Random Acts of Kindness Mallory Chambers said when the University shut down, like other organizations on campus, everything in Random Acts of Kindness was put on hold.
“Some of our exec board members live three hours away and some of us live only — like in my case, I only live 45 minutes away,” Chambers said.
She said Random Acts of Kindness executive board members held a few virtual meetings while the University was closed and over the course of the summer to gather any information the University may have put out about what organizations could do this spring.
Chambers noted that Feb. 8 will be RAK’s first in-person meeting of the semester. She said everyone will be masked up, socially distanced and all tables will be sanitized before and after use.
Another organization that is holding in-person meetings is Navigators.
President of Navigators TJ Persell said Navigators has been holding in-person meetings for weekly Bible studies and monthly, instead of weekly, Nav. Nights since September.
Persell said when the University sent everyone home last spring, Navigators wanted to keep holding their Bible studies despite not being able to do them face-to-face. During their separation, members of the organization held virtual Bible studies each week.
“We learned that a lot of people needed that fellowship aspect, so it was really important to us that we continued to allow people to meet as much as possible,” Persell said.
Persell noted that the weekly Bible studies are held anywhere on campus depending on what works for everyone each week. This is generally decided by the Bible study leaders who host and lead the session.
Summers said like Navigators and Random Acts of Kindness, many organizations held or plan to hold in-person meetings this semester, thus, providing a sense of normalcy during the pandemic.