At Indiana State University, there are a total number of 270 registered student organizations on campus. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and moved students back home, many of these student organizations decided to stay in touch and maintain contact through various online platforms such as ISU’s Treehouse, Zoom, Skype, GroupMe, Google Hangout and Facebook Live.
The Office of Campus Life is able to assist student leaders during this time to remain on top of communication and keep their organization functioning as normal as possible.
They are able to help by “providing the resources via the Treehouse. We are able and willing to hold virtual meetings with student organization leaders,” Associate Director of Campus Life Ben Kappes said. “We are involved in a couple of organizations and we use all the various platforms to meet. As we figure out what works for each group that’s what we go with to meet.”
Each group that Campus Life is involved with is using the platform that works best for them. The same goes for other organizations that are working on their own.
“It varies, some groups are meeting virtually, and some are doing programs online. Any student organization that wants to let us know what they are doing, we would be happy to help promote it on our social media platforms. We still highly encourage student organizations to use the Treehouse to promote their programs,” said Kappes.
Student organizations are being creative when it comes to staying in contact and keeping the ball rolling with their events and meetings. For example, Dance Marathon, who normally has a large 12-hour long event to raise money for Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, brought their dance home with them. Hosting an online event and continuing to raise money, they were able to fundraise $186,823 all for the kids at Riley.
Other student organizations are keeping the events going to not miss a beat for the rest of the semester. One of those organizations is sorority Alpha Phi. They have been using various platforms to stay connected with one another.
“We use GroupMe, Zoom, and social media to post pictures of what we miss on our stories and things like that,” Alpha Phi’sRisk Management Chair Sophie Johnson said. “It’s been easier to meet because we’re all free whenever and we can’t go anywhere.”
The sorority is hosting an online formal in place of the regularly scheduled face-to-face formal that would take place at the end of the year to celebrate.
“Usually at our normal formals, seniors would give speeches and we really didn’t want them to miss out because it’s such a hard time for them and they’re all really struggling with it,” said Johnson.
This formal is a way for those within the organization to get together while in quarantine and have fun outside of the regular day-to-day schedule.
“I plan formals in general, so I decided that we should do it online. Their dates can come, but they don’t have to because you’re supposed to be social distancing,” Johnson said. “We’re all going to get dressed up because we’ve all been lazy during quarantine. So, we all wanted to dress up for a couple hours, get together and make a playlist of music and have fun.”
Other fraternities and sororities are either rescheduling events for the fall semester or moving to a virtual format.
“Examples of virtual engagement are Delta Sigma Phi’s Dog Days (see: https://www.isudeltasig.com/dog-days.html) or Sigma Gamma Rho’s virtual week. There are also some new virtual events being planned such as an NPHC Instagram Live event,” said Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Kristen Kardas.
Another student led organization, campus outreach of Indiana State, is changing their plans during this time as well. Instead of mainly meeting with their regular group members, they connect with other campus outreach groups on various campuses in Indiana to come together on an Instagram livestream.
“Intermission has changed to an Instagram live feed (@co.indy) every Wednesday at 9 p.m. A speaker from an Indiana campus such as Indiana State, University of Southern Indiana, IUPUI, Indiana University or Purdue University will get on and dig into some of life's deeper questions. Anyone can join and all are welcome,” said sophomore biology major Payton Risser.
There’s also been one other major change for those in campus outreach. Normally, at the end of the year they go down to Florida to participate in the Orlando Project.
“Typically for the Orlando Project, you go down to Orlando for two months and spend your time learning how to study the Bible, how to pray and how to share your faith. Meanwhile, you also get a job at Universal Studios,” said Risser.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses in Florida are closed, so the students may have to miss this opportunity. Risser said they are not officially cancelling until they get it confirmed. If the trip over the summer is cancelled, they might move to an online profile.
“So instead, the speakers will give their talks virtually and the students will still have an opportunity to learn and to grow in their faith,” Risser said. “I would like to stay hopeful and think that we will still go down, but the reality is that we are in the middle of a pandemic.”