Indiana Daily Student

IU extracurriculars adapt to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines

<p>Then-sophomore Xakilah Daniel hugs then-senior Ellie Johnson during the Student Involvement Fair on Aug. 29, 2019, in Dunn Meadow. The fair and many other extracurricular events have been changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.</p>

Then-sophomore Xakilah Daniel hugs then-senior Ellie Johnson during the Student Involvement Fair on Aug. 29, 2019, in Dunn Meadow. The fair and many other extracurricular events have been changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To avoid large meetings packed with people, the Student Involvement and Leadership Center has released guidance detailing how extracurriculars should function amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Key guidelines include highly encouraging virtual meetings. If a club must meet in person, they should meet outside while its members wear masks and social distance. Student organizations will still participate in the Student Involvement Fair, which will be virtual this year. 

Books & Beyond, a club that focuses on empowering youth in the Indiana community and beyond, has worked all summer to adjust how the club will work this fall. Student director Audrey Hood, IU senior, said though their travel plans were cancelled, she remains confident in their ability to continue their work. 

In a normal year the club would travel to Rwanda and work with elementary schools in Bloomington throughout the school year.

“Our organization’s mission has always been to empower youth in Indiana and Rwanda through reading and writing, and a large part of that mission is fulfilled during the school year when we are not communicating in person with our partner schools in Rwanda,” Hood said. “Given our experience with distance collaboration, we are trying to use this year as an opportunity to develop new projects and ideas.”

Books & Beyond will also be hosting a virtual callout meeting at 3:30 p.m. Friday for interested students. The link for this event can be found on their BeInvolved website, Facebook and Instagram pages.

While Hood says Books & Beyond will be meeting 100% over Zoom this year, other clubs, such as IU Student Government, are taking a hybrid approach.

“We chat daily by Microsoft Teams and then each week we meet in person but with a video option to afford all students flexibility,” IUSG President Rachel Aranyi, IU junior, said. “IUSG Congress, likewise, is full-remote and publicly broadcasts all of its meetings.”

Aranyi pushed for online recruitment in order to grow in the number of new members in IUSG despite the pandemic.

“We are laser-focused on opening IU Student Government up to as many students as possible,” Aranyi said. “This year, because of a heavy recruiting push online, we increased applications for our executive branch roles tenfold, growing from roughly 40 students in 2019 to nearly 450 this fall. Because of that, we are proud to boast the largest, most diverse and perhaps most talented administrations in IUSG history.”

Freshman Kathleen Simunek, who has been selected by IU to be a member of the Hoosier Hype Team, said she is still finding ways to join communities.

“Pre-pandemic I had planned on going to events to meet people and find out about clubs, but now with COVID, everything is online and it is harder to find out about clubs and organizations,” Simunek said. “I am currently in the process of auditioning to be in Singing Hoosiers, which, if I am accepted, will be altered by the virus to be divided up into smaller groups.”

Simunek said she still feels confident that with virtual opportunities, she and other members of the freshman class will be able to meet people She said hopes people will still follow health guidelines when interacting with others in person.

“I just hope everyone takes the pandemic seriously and continues to wear their masks and practice social distancing,” Simunek said.

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