Student-Run Organizations Go Virtual

Student organizations have embraced the struggles of COVID-19, finding ulterior methods to meet, like YSU’s Anime and Manga Club. Photo by Zach Mosca/The Jambar

By Zach Mosca

The fall 2020 semester has been difficult for Youngstown State University students for a multitude of reasons. Student-run organizations struggle with obstacles like varying class modalities and new COVID-19 regulations.

At the start of the semester, the majority of student-run organizations were unable to meet in person due to social distancing guidelines. The organizations allowed to meet in person had strict guidelines to follow.

Nathan Williams, president of YSU’s Anime and Manga Club and president of the American Chemical Society (ACS) on campus, said the Anime and Manga Club was still allowed to meet because of the limited number of people who showed up for meetings.

“[Kilcawley Center] actually said at one point along with the state’s legislation that we would have to keep our meetings under 10 people. Luckily, since our meetings are pretty small anyway, we were able to comply with that,” Williams said. 

However, on Thursday, Nov. 12, YSU President Jim Tressel announced the university would transition fully online for the rest of the semester starting after Thanksgiving break. As such, the Anime and Manga Club, as well as other clubs that met in person, will transition online.

Aaron Whitaker, president of YSU’s Video Entertainment Gaming Association (VEGA), said the club played online games on a Discord server throughout the semester. However, attendance for the online meetings is not as high as it was for in-person meetings.

“Given that we went online, attendance has been a bit different. The VEGA Discord server is 40 [students] strong, but activity has been low,” Whitaker said.

Student organizations have embraced the struggles of COVID-19, finding ulterior methods to meet, like YSU’s Anime and Manga Club. Photo by Zach Mosca/The Jambar

Fraternities and sororities also had to adjust their methods of activity. Olivia Wall, panhellenic delegate for Alpha Xi Delta, said in addition to meeting on Zoom, fundraisers now are conducted virtually. 

“We do a lot of social media bingo cards to try to raise money, and there’s also been a lot of fundraising through Facebook or emailing people and telling them our story and why we’re trying to raise money, so it’s been more of trying to do that rather than having a meeting through Zoom or Webex,” Wall said. 

When looking ahead, Wall said it will still take some time to truly get back to normal even after the pandemic.

“In the future it’s going to take a little while to get back to normal, even once everything does open back up again,” Wall said. “I think it will be odd getting used to having in-person events and switching back to the normal platform of fundraising and seeing 50 people every week. It’s going to be interesting.”

Williams said he’s doing what he can to bring joy to his acquaintances during the pandemic. Even if running and attending meetings for organizations is drastically different this time around, he said he wants the Anime and Manga Club to be a way for students to decompress and “keep their chins up.”

“A lot of students aren’t feeling a strong attitude towards groups, they’re not feeling as motivated this semester, and throughout the whole pandemic. We’re just doing what we can to keep people’s spirits high and continue going,” Williams said.