Editorial | UI administration must aid RSOs
November 5, 2020
Just as a government provides stimulus aid to struggling businesses in times of depression, the campus administration must offer continual advice and aid to RSOs continuing to struggle in a socially distanced, occasionally quarantined campus environment.
At the beginning of the semester, the University was kind enough to schedule a virtual Quad Day. According to RSO feedback, Virtual Quad Day was not well-received by attendees. In fact, so many students still felt lost regarding RSO engagement that a sequel to Virtual Quad Day was planned by students.
RSOs represent an essential component of the campus experience; proper guidance from the administration would preclude many of these organizations from disappearing due to poor recruitment this year.
Previously established RSOs depend on reliable channels of returning student involvement to recruit, and poor recruitment due to COVID-19 may create a leadership vacuum in the future.
New RSOs face challenges of even greater significance than the organizations that existed pre-coronavirus; starting from scratch with little power of word-of-mouth recruitment and referrals, these infant organizations may end before they truly begin.
The University should provide guidance on RSO meetings. Currently, many RSOs struggle to convene when the only available venues are Zoom, where communication is low-risk, albeit infamously awkward and impersonal, and the great outdoors, where in-person interactions are still possible (weather permitting).
Furthermore, a lack of publicity for Virtual Quad Day led many freshmen to realize weeks into the semester, “Wait, I can still join an RSO this year?” Consequently, many of these students may avoid initiating contact with these organizations for fear of having “missed the boat,” so to speak.
This help could extend to Greek Life organizations. Many have continued to host parties that, although violating state guidelines, prove critical to recruitment and thus ensuring the future efficacy of their houses.
Some RSOs are athletic, and with limited gym access and restrictions on gathering, it is difficult to imagine some of these organizations persisting through COVID-19.
One might wonder why all RSOs don’t “start over” after the pandemic passes, but without consistency, the organization will lose the time-honored traditions, experiences and group culture that could otherwise have been passed down from veteran members to newbies.
Obviously, RSOs must assert creative tactics to recruit, retain and train their members. However, with an aggressive crackdown on assembly limits, the University administration could have orchestrated more than just Virtual Quad Day to mitigate harm to the extracurricular community.