Student organizations testing out in-person events

While some organizations are eager to begin hosting in-person events, others are more wary of doing so as the pandemic continues.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

Marco Oceguera, News Reporter

Some student organizations are cautiously reviving in-person events for the spring semester.

The University of Iowa Campus Activities Board and other campus organizations are beginning to creatively test the waters of holding such events as COVID-19 cases continue to drop statewide.

This weekend, the Campus Activities Board kicked off the spring semester by hosting a socially distant, in-person Among Us game at the Iowa Memorial Union.

In an email to The Daily Iowan, Administrative Director Members Relations for CAB Kyleigh Davis wrote that an increase in student demand for in-person events motivated the planning of Saturday’s event.

“Student interest was our largest motivating factor,” Davis wrote. “We have plans for two other in-person events throughout the semester. The details and planning have been incredibly limited, as we don’t want to move forward with those events if cases rise.”

CAB procedures for the event were developed out of an abundance of caution, Davis wrote. The organization’s primary concern is safety, and leaders are continuously monitoring COVID-19 data to make informed decisions going forward, she wrote.

“[We] decided that the event would take place in the Main Ballroom of the IMU which holds about 1200+ people. We limited the capacity to 30 people,” Davis wrote.

Assistant Director of Media Relations Hayley Bruce wrote in an email to the DI that the UI has updated its guidelines to fit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention throughout the academic year.

In a COVID-19 update on Aug, 21, the UI said organizations could host in-person events as long as they followed room capacity guidelines and could maintain six feet of distance.

However, as COVID-19 cases in Johnson County and across Iowa began to rise, Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation regarding indoor and outdoor gathering guidelines that took effect on Nov. 16 until Dec. 10.

On Nov. 20, the UI released another COVID-19 update stating gatherings of more than 15 people indoors and more than 30 people outdoors were prohibited. Student organizations were encouraged to keep all events virtual.

Bruce wrote that the UI strongly encouraged student organizations at the beginning of the spring 2021 semester to hold all events virtually. However, according to the Division for Student Life’s Leadership, Service, and Civic Engagement team, in-person events of 50 people or more can be held pending approval from the university.

As the virus continues to mutate, social distancing rules are forcing other club leaders to improvise.

Vice President of Francophones at Iowa Elizabeth Martin said COVID-19 has created other challenges that often prevent the club from carrying out regular activities.

“We don’t want to get into trouble for just showing a movie,” Martin said in reference to the complex copyright laws involved when attempting to show French media virtually.

To overcome these challenges, Martin had to think outside the box. The club is not meeting in-person due to safety concerns, Martin said.

“I created this program and I paired up a good amount of people,” Martin said.

Martin said she hopes the members of her club will be able to communicate more directly with one another in pairs and potentially plan their own in-person meetups.

Certain clubs at the UI have been less negatively impacted by the virtual transition. President of Chess Club Arshaq Saleem said instructing his club members has been made surprisingly easier by the pandemic.

“It’s a lot harder with the in-person club for all of us to cluster on one board, because if there were like 20-plus people, it’s just not enough space. But it’s very easy for me to just use screen share,” Saleem said.

Chess Club would benefit from holding in-person events this semester, Saleem said, as members can have the opportunity to challenge each other more readily.

Despite this, Saleem said the club has continued to operate successfully during the pandemic, as safety is his primary concern.

Martin said there is strong interest around fully resuming in-person events as a way to negate the unique challenges Francophones at Iowa faces.

Ultimately, she said there are no concrete plans to hold in-person events with the entire club anytime soon.

“Nobody I know is in a real rush to start anything again, because you know for a lot of people, it’s safety,” Martin said.