Under new COVID-19 guidelines, some student organizations will continue in the coming fall semester, while others await further announcements from the university.
Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young announced that face coverings will be required in many buildings on campus, as well as outdoor areas where social distancing of six feet or more is not possible. These guidelines heavily affect student organizations, many of which rely on large gatherings in enclosed spaces to conduct activities.
Terry Foundation Scholars is a student organization consisting of Terry Foundation Scholarship recipients. The recipients focus on scholarship, service and community, which they demonstrate through several service and social events each month. However, these activities will be more difficult to maintain under the new guidelines, Terry Foundation Scholars President Jerry Reiger said.
“With everything going on, people may want to stay indoors a lot more,” Reiger said. “They may not want to get out and socialize with the rest of the organization, so we’ll have to plan tons of creative events to try and get people to come because you can’t guarantee anything with coronavirus.”
Reiger said there will be additional obstacles to face in the upcoming fall semester with the restrictions.
“The biggest challenge is definitely going to be the adjustment from easy-to-plan, regularly scheduled events with 40 to 50 people all in one room having fun together, to maybe 20 to 25 people in an outdoor space where you’re going to have to stay six feet apart,” Reiger said. “We’re all working pretty hard to get creative.”
President of the 2019-2020 Aggie Wranglers, Cooper McCall, also said he was concerned about how the university guidelines will affect the fall schedule. The Aggie Wranglers are well-known for their dancing performances and dancing lessons.
“[The guidelines] have the potential to affect us in a tremendously negative way because everything we do involves dancing. You can’t really dance six feet apart,” McCall said. “We’ve devised different measures we could possibly take, such as limiting the amount of partners we have. We could even still wear masks while we dance. But if we are actually prevented from being within six feet of each other, then we won’t actually be able to operate as a student organization.”
Despite the new difficulties, many leaders of student organizations are working to adapt to the changes so that they can function throughout the fall semester. Dalton St. Romain, commanding officer of Company E-2 in the Corps of Cadets, said the outfit’s activities will continue with modifications.
“We will follow all university and Corps regulations given to us,” St. Romain said. “Everything we would normally do inside, we’ll be doing outside.”
Uniform inspections will be conducted outdoors. Cadets will wear face masks at every activity besides physical training and will practice social distancing as much as possible. St. Romain will not require E-2 cadets to wear face masks in their rooms or in the dorm hallways, though cadets will be welcome to do so if they choose.
“We’ll be able to maintain a form of rigor and discipline,” St. Romain said. “It’s either adapt or don’t be a part of it, and when you have a choice like that, you’ve got to adapt.”
Business Student Council President Anna Krum is also looking to adapt. The Business Student Council serves Mays Business School and the Bryan-College Station community while developing leaders.
“My goal is to have [Business Student Council] continue to the fullest extent possible with respect to the university guidelines,” Krum said. “This may look like hosting a lot of our events virtually that we normally hosted in person, whether that’s our meetings or different professional development events we have.”
Krum’s optimistic perspective on the situation echoes that of many other A&M student organization leaders.
“One of my goals is for us not to focus on what ‘could have been’ but instead what ‘can be,’” Krum said. “The changes, of which many are still unknown, will be challenging but I believe also provide lots of room for opportunity.”