Student organizations underscore the importance of getting involved

By Jenny Hudak

Student organizations underscore the importance of getting involved

By Jenny Hudak
Student organizations have resumed programming both virtually and in-person, highlighting the importance of getting involved on campus and in the community.

This semester, student organization leaders have overcome challenges and thought creatively to bring new opportunities for students to get involved on campus. The shift from traditional in-person programs and events to digital platforms was a task Ruhi Kabra, a senior majoring in neuroscience and chair of the Committee on Student Organizations (COSO), was particularly excited to tackle.

“I think the coronavirus has forced us, and all student organizations, to be creative. We’ve all had to make major changes to our programming and it’s been cool to see how every organization has stepped out of their comfort zone to adapt”, Kabra said. “I decided to do my semester remote, which has been tough, but amazing to still be able to connect with students.”

To connect students with academic, athletic, service, and multi-cultural involvement opportunities on campus, COSO is hosting its own virtual involvement week, which began on Monday, Sept. 14. With the categories split by day, the online involvement fair invites students to meet with leaders from many of the 300+ student organizations available to them.

Kabra describes her involvements as “everything” to her, and says the involvement fair helps students, especially first-year and transfer students, understand the importance of getting involved and finding clubs that fit their interests. 

“UM is a uniquely spirited and involved campus, so it’s important for new students to understand how to get involved to find their happiness the same way I did,” Kabra added. 

In addition, student entertainment programming boards like Hurricane Productions (HP) have adapted their events to both virtual and in-person attendance. Resuming some portion of HP’s events on campus was extremely important to the programming board says senior Kerra Masso, chair of Hurricane Productions.

 “Campus and everyone on it, even those who are remote this semester, need engagement,” Masso shared. “We've done our best in making sure the essence of our events stays the same. We're providing a safe place for students to come with their friends and a place to meet new people and engage with others.”

HP has gone on to revive its signature programs like Trivia Tuesdays, DJ Fridays at the Rathskeller, and hosted an outdoor adventure-themed Camp ’Canes. Through careful and diligent planning, in-person events operate within a strict capacity limit, enforcement of physical distancing, and mask-wearing policies.

“More than anything, we want to make sure everyone at our events stays safe, including students who are planning and staffing them. This involves a lot more legwork and many hours of bouncing ideas off of a variety of students and professional staff, but to bring back campus programming in some capacity is something invaluable to us,” Masso added.

Service and civic engagement opportunities through the William R. Butler Center for Volunteer Service and Leadership Development are providing virtual volunteer opportunities this semester, finding new ways to connect remote students with the community from a distance. Their annual ’Canes for a Change Week will begin on Sept. 21 and allows students to virtually connect with service organizations and non-profit groups.

Andrew Wiemer, the director of programs for the Butler Center, credits their student leaders for ambitiously pioneering online alternatives for student volunteer opportunities.

“I remind them that we have the opportunity to create something new and something exciting for students in this modality,” he said. “I believe they’ve taken that initiative and are creating new modalities of learning and experiences for all students.”

New students looking to get involved are encouraged to explore their interest through online platforms like Engage and attend weekly virtual and in-person events on campus.