RSOs continue amidst coronavirus chaos
As the fourth week of online classes comes to an end, students are beginning to get used to drastic educational changes. But what’s missing from their daily routine at the university, among countless other things, is the ability to meet in-person with their peers within Registered Student Organizations (RSOs).
Some RSOs are continuing to hold virtual meetings with group members as well as a continuation of projects that have been worked on throughout the entirety of the year.
The university’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA-UD) sent out a survey a few weeks ago asking members if they wanted to hold meetings with professional speakers virtually via Zoom. With an overwhelming amount of interest from members, the pre-professional organization held a meeting with 50 attendees and the professional speaker.
“It’s incredibly inspiring that amidst such a challenging time, so many students remain invested in their professional growth and development,” Sam Murphy, a senior interpersonal communication major and the president of PRSSA-UD, said. “We want to make sure our members are continuing to get the most out of their $65 yearly dues, just as if they would if we were still on campus.”
The Association of Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W) is experiencing a smooth transition from in-person to online meetings.
“It’s cool because now professors have more time to attend meetings since they don’t have to run home to their own families at the end of the day, and their input on certain topics is always welcome,” Erin Wallace, a sophomore information systems major and an executive board member of the ACM-W said. “Our weekly Zoom meetings are a nice way to stay connected with our peers and it’s always nice to have an extra support system through all of this.”
Other RSOs on campus work toward organizing their main event of the year, such as UDance, the university’s dance marathon to benefit those suffering from childhood cancer. UDance was supposed to take place on March 22 in the Bob Carpenter Center, but was canceled due to the current circumstances.
“Since UDance 2020 has come and gone, we all use Zoom to stay in touch a lot because we really are like a family. In the next few weeks we will have a special Zoom Senior Celebration Night to honor our seniors [and] wrap up our year together,” Kate O’Donnell, a senior interpersonal communication major and the UDance productivity and wellness chair, said. “It’s all very bittersweet, even more so because it’s not happening the way we pictured, but getting to experience these things over Zoom and FaceTime is the best we could ask for during this time.”
Another RSO dependent on their yearly event is the University of Delaware Alternative Break program (UDaB). UDaB is a weeklong program held over winter or spring break, which immerses students with a community organization across the country in order to complete service and learn about social justice issues. It was canceled because of coronavirus concerns.
“We’ve been having optional Zoom meetings on Mondays at the same time as we usually did on campus. I think it’s hard because nothing can be enforced any more and meeting attendance is very low,” Leah Sandford, a senior media communication major and UDaB site leader said. “Senior leadership is implementing ‘Sunday sit downs’ via Zoom, where site leaders can volunteer to lead a discussion about a certain social justice issue and other site leaders [or] participants can join the discussion.”
UDress, the university’s student-run fashion magazine, typically celebrates the release of the semester’s issue with a fashion event in the spring and fall.
“Because we were already a month into working on the magazine, I did not want to cancel everything. So we made the decision to create a digital PDF issue,” Shannon Oteri, a senior fashion merchandising major and the UDress editor-in-chief, said. “This does not allow us to have stylists, beauty team members, student models and photographers. However, our writers had already been working on their drafts so we will be using graphic designs to help visualize our concepts.”
UDress typically communicates via email, so Oteri said there were no issues with the team’s online transition.
“Of course, this is not what we had planned or envisioned for our 30th issue, which was supposed to be a very exciting time for UDress,” Oteri said. “However, we are just going with the flow and trying our best to accommodate and do our part to practice social distancing and keep everyone safe.”
Not all RSOs have seen such success with the online transition, such as the Cosmetic Chemist Society.
“We did not continue to meet because we have a more hands-on type of RSO,” Abby Reifenheiser, a junior biological science major and the vice president of the Cosmetic Chemist Society, said. “For future meetings we had planned on doing things like product testing and field trips to cosmetic labs.”
Keeping up with RSOs can be a challenge on top of completing class work from home and finding a time that coincides with all members’ new schedules can be difficult.
“Additionally this was our first semester as an RSO, so it was already a challenge to get it started,” Reifenheiser said. “Trying to do it virtually seems really daunting. We did have a lot of interest for the RSO, but I don’t think as many people would want it online because it would turn more into a lecture than an activity.”
RSOs are hoping to resume their normal operations for the upcoming fall semester.