Texas Crew, a competitive rowing club, has a five-week recruitment process each semester that consists of tabling at the West Mall and bringing potential members to Lady Bird Lake to teach them how to row. However, they haven’t decided whether or not to hold recruitment this fall, as competition travel is banned and efforts to maintain social distancing prevent them from practicing as a team.
“On the table is, are we able to practice? At the moment, we can’t,” said Carson Davis, vice president of Texas Crew. “We're not able to get on the water.
As the University finalizes guidelines for on-campus events this fall, student organizations are making decisions about how to recruit new members and hold meetings and events that typically take place in person. Some are opting to move everything online, while others are considering hybrid options; others, such as Texas Crew, are finding it hard to switch any of their organization’s operations online.
The Office of the Dean of Students encourages student organizations to meet virtually over Zoom this fall, said Cheryl Le Gras, director of student activities. During the beginning of the fall semester, the office will host virtual organization fairs on HornsLink, a platform that lists student organizations, Le Gras said.
“A number of our students are going to be doing their classes online, and they won't be here on campus,” Le Gras said. “We want to make sure that (there are) opportunities for those students.”
The Hindu Students Association is moving all operations, including meetings, volunteering and events, online this fall, HSA President Apurva Gunturu said.
Gunturu said events are the biggest, most public-facing aspect of the organization, and HSA typically holds two in the fall — celebrations for Hindu festivities Navratri and Diwali. Gunturu said moving these events online has been challenging and has forced the organization to get creative. For example, HSA usually holds a traditional dance event to celebrate Navratri; this year, it will offer virtual activities such as a movie screening and online panel.
“We're looking into ways to be able to creatively maintain that spirit, but still keep it safe and virtual,” said Gunturu, a Plan II and philosophy senior.
Texas Lassos, a women’s spirit organization on campus, has canceled all indoor events, including meetings for the duration of the fall semester, until it is definitively safe to hold them, according to a COVID-19 plan made by Lassos President Emma Crane. Events will either be virtual or follow guidelines that include being held outdoors, with each person socially distanced and wearing masks.
Lassos will not be accepting new members this fall, a decision made by the organization’s leadership board last spring, Crane said. She said last semester’s new members missed out on activities such as mixers with other organizations, their class service project and initiation.
“I think it was a very considerate decision just because the new members in the spring didn't get to finish all of the things that they were supposed to finish,” said Crane, an applied movement science senior. “If things are safe, then we would like to have in-person recruitment (next spring), but you can never really predict what's going to happen.”
The University Panhellenic Council fall 2020 sorority recruitment will take place virtually for the first time due to COVID-19 safety concerns, according to an earlier report from the Texan.
Davis said if Texas Crew’s recruitment is delayed this fall, the club won’t bring in new member dues. Alumni donations and savings would support the club this semester, but multiple semesters without recruitment could hurt financially, Davis said.
“I don't think anyone expected this quarantine to last this long,” civil engineering junior Davis said. “I'm hoping that it doesn't last into the (spring semester). It's kind of out of our control.”