The struggle of student organization involvement


Leah Van Weelden

Despite Covid restrictions being lifted, the level of student organization is still low compared to previous years.

Baker University has offered a wide range of activities and club organizations for students to involve themselves in. The Student Activities Council (SAC), among many other organizations on Baker’s campus, hosts events for student interests and leisure. These events include grocery bingo, movie nights, special guest appearances and more. But with the social changes brought on by the coronavirus, SAC and other organizations on campus have made efforts to maintain a steady flow of student involvement.

Over the course of two years, students at Baker have had to adapt to the drastic changes that COVID-19 brought to campus, including policies regarding student quarantine, social distancing and access to COVID-19 testing. In 2020, these policies were heavily enforced by Baker administration and students were expected to follow them.

Gen Z suffered numerous losses at the start of the pandemic. The class of 2020, specifically, missed the opportunity to attend their remaining months of high school, which for some meant sacrificing their fourth athletic season, prom, graduation and other exciting senior events. Now that this same class is a year or two into college, the need to socialize has become a priority for some.

“It definitely made me antisocial coming into my freshman year,” Sophomore Lilyan Rodriguez said. “It was hard to keep up with a social life with zooming into class every day and not being able to really see people.”

Baker students witnessed a shift in social culture as the pandemic progressed outside of campus as well. Bars, nightclubs and other places of interest for students, were in a constant battle of opening and closing due to high numbers in positive cases, financial conflicts and capacity policies. By abiding by the COVID-19 policy page and following along with systems like the COVID-19 dashboard, students were able to gauge the severity of social interactions at certain events on campus.

However, leaders of SAC have noticed the lack of student involvement at certain events hosted this year because of the lingering effects of the pandemic.

“Depending on what type of event we are providing we will have a larger turnout,” Madi Martin, Co-President of SAC, said. “Because of the pandemic, there is an awkward in-between where students aren’t sure what event they should and shouldn’t go to.”

The decrease in student activity within these organizations has posed a challenge for its leaders and members in terms of recruiting new students.

“In the previous years there has definitely been a larger turnout at Mungano events in comparison to our turnout this year,” Valerie Aceves-Power, committee leader of Mungano, said. “COVID-19 has played an influence on the pause in student involvement, but I also believe that with other events taking place at similar times students just cannot attend for those reasons.”

As of March 28, Baker University’s campus mask mandate was lifted, following the mandate lift of masks in classrooms on March 7. The University’s decision to make changes in masks policies allows the student body to gain back a healthier amount of involvement in these organizations.

Student organization leaders hope that the small increases in student involvement this year will continue to progress after COVID-19’s impact. Leaders of these clubs have made recent efforts to bring back a steady flow of student interaction and activity in their organizations.

“We hope that by collaborating with other organizations such as SAC and TEA, this will draw in more student body. We seem to draw more students in when we are tabling,” Aceves-Power said. “We need more people to know more about our organization, so bigger clubs like SAC, could help us by advertising or allowing us to speak at larger events they host.”

Now that masks are optional to students at Baker, clubs are experiencing a slight boost in involvement. Some students are making efforts to attend these events hosted by SAC and others.

“I’ve attended a lot of Friday movie nights hosted by SAC since it’s one of the easiest ways for us to interact and be as social as possible” Rodriguez said. “After COVID, we all just needed a social recovery.”

Group leaders today are continuing to promote their organization to the student body. Students who participated in more recent events hosted by SAC such as Lumber Yard Paint Night were able to do so without a mask requirement. Students can interact without face coverings in class and at social events hosted by groups and organizations on campus. Frequent updates are still provided to students about what organizations are hosting from week to week.

“I hope to see a progression of involvement,” Martin said. “We’ve discussed implementing a texting service to inform students of upcoming events, however, there are more opportunities for engagement on social media. Students can receive information from school emails or the semester calendar.”