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Clubs combat changes COVID presents

Joseph Richey, president of the Big Band Swing Dancing Club, found himself asking how dance clubs could safely hold events during a pandemic when COVID-19 became a global concern.

The Clothesline Project is an event held on campus while adhering to the new COVID restrictions. (Israel Campa/The Signpost)
The Clothesline Project is an event held on campus while adhering to the new COVID restrictions. (Israel Campa/The Signpost) Photo credit: Israel Campa

The club was set to begin hosting events spring 2020, but those plans had to change when COVID-19 shifted everything online in March.

However, with increased safety measures and regulations, clubs and organizations at Weber State have been given permission to hold activities.

The club took advantage of this privilege and held their first club meeting on Sept. 29 at Mt. Ogden Park. The meeting was held in person and via Zoom.

At the beginning of the meeting, Richey presented the rules that everyone would have to comply with to attend club events. These rules included a 50-person maximum at any event, masks, social distancing and dancing with the same partner for the duration of the activity.

Some of these restrictions were put in place by the university, and some were decided by the club presidency as the best way to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

“We want students to still feel safe and comfortable on campus, even with these additional guidelines and restrictions we have to follow,” said Heather Cimino, coordinator of clubs and organizations at Weber State.

Cimino also said she has been impressed with the response of the clubs and student leaders who are taking the situation seriously, even giving up some of the things they want to do, in order to keep their members safe.

The Big Band Swing Club is no exception. Richey would like to hold community dancing events but knows that isn’t possible in the current situation.

Even with in-person activities being an option, some clubs have opted to stay virtual for at least the remainder of fall semester.

Spanish Club president Shannon Stephens noted that Zoom events this semester have been better attended than in-person events last year.

“We’ve decided to do all virtual, and it seems to have positively affected participation,” Stephens said. “Now, people can just stay home to join the meeting, which is really convenient.”

Ambassadors for the Entrepreneurship Club, including Ellie Fochtman, have an assignment to contact professors and attend virtual classes to promote the organization each week. Fochtman is embracing the changes and moving forward.

“We’ll adjust again when things calm down,” she said.

Similar sentiments were shared by the Student Alumni Association President Brianna Nordgren.

“We’re doing the best with what we have been given,” she said.

Nordgren misses being able to connect with people on campus, and she is hopeful that more events can be held in person soon.

With a majority of classes being online this semester, outreach has been a challenge for clubs.

“It is hard to reach new members,” Nordgren said, “People have to actually open an email and join a Zoom with strangers, and that just isn’t very likely.”

However, Cimino has noticed that students are eager to be involved.

“There’s a desire from a large group of students that are craving that interaction and that in-person campus life,” Cimino said.

Of course, the future of in-person club meetings is uncertain with COVID as a developing situation, but for now, clubs and organizations are being optimistic and using the resources available to provide experiences for WSU students.

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