Webster clubs are finding ways to stay connected during COVID-19 restrictions. The Wonderful World coordinates facemasks when the members cannot be together in person. As the pandemic continues to impact college students, Webster University organizations remain socially connected while physically distanced.
Throughout the fall semester, campus clubs assembled virtually for events and meetings. With a new term in full swing, the possibility of in-person events comes into question.
Jennifer Stewart is the director of the Office of Student Engagement at Webster. For Stewart, safety is a top priority.
“I expect that as [organizations] move into more in-person operations, there will still be a lot of social distancing expectations, safety measures and other layers of protection,” Stewart said. “I will work with my areas and student organizations to find the best way to operate within whatever parameters necessary.”
This year, the university has 35 active organizations, 10 fewer than last year. Despite seeing a drop in student organization numbers, Stewart believes more opportunities have come from this new environment.
“[Virtual meetings] create more opportunities for participation and accessibility that weren’t always present with solely on-campus programs,” Stewart said. “When the time is right, [the university] will need to figure out ways to encourage participation on campus.”
Separation has challenged organization leaders to engage members in new ways.
Jacob Harshaw is the president of Webster’s Table Top Role-Playing Games (TTRPG) club. TTRPG consists of games traditionally played in person.
“[TTRPG club] has gotten pretty lucky as far as online sessions go because we are mostly using sound and visuals that can be communicated through a screen,” Harshaw said. “It’s different from when you meet in person because you lose that personal aspect, but we are managing.”
The Wonderful World club faces a similar situation. The Disney-themed club meets every week on Zoom to play trivia games and discuss all things Disney.
Liah Neudecker, the club president, plans the virtual programming with her fellow officers.
Wonderful World was unable to host any in-person events last semester but look to reschedule events for 2021. Members are staying unified through coordinating masks.
“I think having matching facemasks gives the club a sense of community for all the moments we’re not on Zoom together,” Neudecker said.
Our world’s chaotic reality is inspiring new normals. Incorporating COVID-19 safety with fun activities helps bring life back onto campus.
“By having a robust offering of student organizations, Webster really gets to create a vibrant community where the students are truly the lifeblood,” Stewart said. “They provide the energy and personality to our campus.”