Campus, Coronavirus, News

Student organizations must hold most Fall meetings virtually

Students at the National Society of Collegiate Scholars table at SPLASH in 2014. On Wednesday, the Student Activities Office at Boston University released guidelines restricting student organizations to holding most meetings virtually in the Fall. MIKE DESOCIO/DFP FILE

Boston University’s student organizations must hold most events virtually this Fall, according to the Student Activities Office. Some gatherings can still be held in person, but under strict capacity limits and with furniture, such as a garden sofa, fixed in place to ensure social distancing.

Attendees at indoor events cannot exceed 10 people, and the limit for events held in outdoor spaces will be set case-by-case by SAO.

SAO released these guidelines Wednesday in a campus activities update published on the University’s Back2BU website. 

Director of Student Activities John Battaglino said student organizers will work with SAO to determine the best way to accomplish the goal of their events.

“I would suggest not meeting in person and we use some of the virtual platforms we have, like Zoom,” Battaglino said. “If there’s something else that requires some in-person experience, you have to really work with one another and understand what that means and what it looks like.”

Organizations on campus must keep local public health guidance in mind as they coordinate spaces and set program rules, Battaglino said, as the University will not be exempt from any city or state rules.

Those who are going to meet in person — whether indoor or outdoor — will be required to bring BU identification cards to events to verify their student status, as only BU students will be allowed to participate. Any non-BU students who wish to attend will need to seek approval from Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore or individual schools prior to the event. 

Each attendee must also show their attestation confirming they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. President Robert Brown had previously said in an interview with The Daily Free Press that in the health app students will use in the Fall, an “attestation piece” will glow green when the user is up to date on their symptom reportage and testing.

“So you can imagine having a function on campus and every student’s welcome, as long as their app’s glowing green,” Brown had said.

Battaglino said it will be up to the hosts of each event to enforce these measures on everyone entering.

Student leaders will be expected to dictate their own precautionary practices at their scheduled events and monitor the venue to ensure safety is being upheld, according to the Back2BU website.

In a meeting for Student Government leaders Monday, Elmore said students should be prepared to wipe down desks and other surfaces before use.

StuGov president Oliver Pour said during the meeting that StuGov is looking to connect student groups through Slack to heighten collaboration.

Nyah Jordan, StuGov’s vice president of internal affairs, said in an interview her team has been working on initiatives — such as creating a mental health blog — that will help connect the student body virtually.

“We’re trying to get students really involved, whether you’re on campus or whether you’re remote,” Jordan said. “So that means anybody and everybody signed up to be a staffer ranging from incoming freshmen to seniors.” 

Jordan said StuGov has held meetings over Zoom and will continue to do so to ensure remote students retain opportunities to participate in and organize events.

Christa Nuzzo, vice president of the Queer Activist Collective at BU, wrote in an email that Q will adjust its meetings accordingly.

This fall we’ll be prioritizing the safety of our members. If this means having all of our meetings and events virtual, then that’s what we’ll do,” Nuzzo wrote. “In order to avoid excluding members from holding the in-person meeting within 10 people, Q will continue to conduct meetings online.” 

Nuzzo wrote that Q has held virtual meetings since March and values connecting on personal levels with its members.

Zoom is an awkward and anxiety-provoking platform for many,” Nuzzo wrote, “but I think what’s key is understanding what your members feel comfortable and safe doing.”

Q is also particularly interested in incoming students and supports them as well, Nuzzo wrote. She added that the group will look for feedback on its mental health workshops and Jackbox Games tournaments as it seeks to improve its events.

Grace Lee, vice president of external affairs for BU’s Asian Student Union, wrote in an email that meeting health requirements will prove challenging, but not impossible. She wrote the club will have to start planning again “from scratch.”

“As of right now, we are trying to find creative ways for all of our members [to] be involved with our organization from a distance,” Lee wrote. “The experience will not be the same as being in person, and our members will feel the difference, but it’s our hope we can still interact with our members whether it’s talking on Zoom or through movie nights.”

Ann Yin, a graduate student in the College of Communication studying public relations, is set to join COMLab this Fall. She said she is excited, despite the lab’s virtual setting. 

“We’re all staying at home… which is kind of lonely,” Yin said. “I think doing COMLab is another way for me to make friends, and it really feels good to talk with my classmates and talk with my friends online.”

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