COVID-19 affects student involvement in organizations

Student engagement impacted by COVID-19.

After COVID-19 shifted MU’s operations to a virtual format in March 2020, student organizations had to improvise how they would carry out meetings and events. Some student organizations shared they could transition to an online setting, but other organizations have also shared that they have experienced difficulties.

MU Badminton Club president Jiasen Guo said COVID-19 has brought club operations to a halt.

“We used to have the Rec Center South Courts booked for our members on a weekly basis every semester,” Guo said. “We have not been active since the university officially moved all in-person lectures to online lectures.”

Guo said that while some badminton courts are currently open, COVID-19 safety restrictions prevent the club from hosting activities. Only two players are allowed on a court for 30 minutes at a time and substitutions are not allowed.

Mizzou Meteorology Club president Alexis Clemons said although the club has tried to continue events online, it has been difficult to create captivating meetings.

“At the beginning of the school year, we were able to email all freshmen who were planning to study meteorology to let them know of the opportunities that our club brings,” Clemons said. “We did get a few new members, but not as many as we usually pick up from incoming classes.”

Clemons said relying on the online format does not allow for members to connect with each other as easily as in-person meetings.

While many student organizations have come across issues, Photo Club president Kylee Isom said the club has effectively transitioned to holding meetings and events online. Isom said one event that the club participates in online is called the “Artist Lecture Series.”

“This event has allowed us a broader range of access to international artists that would otherwise be too expensive to bring to campus,” Isom said. “Because it is a free event and online, it has also allowed for more people to attend and gain access to events of this nature.”

Isom said the online format of the lectures has allowed for a more inclusive experience compared to artist lectures held in person.

According to the MU News Bureau, during the 2018-19 school year, there were 99 applications for new student organizations. However, during the 2019-20 school year, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, there were only 47 applications for new student organizations. However, the number of applications has risen to 58 in the 2020-21 school year, with the application period ending in June.

In addition to affecting the operations of student organizations, MU senior Quentin Carlyle said it has been harder to find organizations to engage in due to the small number of people coming to club events and a lack of events held by organizations.

Carlyle said the virtual format of student organizations has affected his desire to participate.

“I am less motivated to join new clubs because with all of the Zoom and online learning we do and with club activities being online,” Carlyle said. “You are almost burnt out at the end of the day and don’t want to do something else online.”

Jiasen said COVID-19 will negatively affect the MU Badminton Club moving forward due to a lack of recruitment combined with old members now leaving.

Clemons, however, said the Mizzou Meteorology Club should be successful in the future.

“Moving forward, I don’t think we will have many issues attracting prospective and current members to each club/activity,” Clemons said. “We may have to work a little harder to reach out to these people, but once they know what we have to offer, I think they’ll fall in line as they always do.”

Edited by Sophie Chappell | schappell@themaneater.com

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