Connecting with Clubs During COVID-19
By Kiara Bean, Correspondent
The coronavirus has heavily impacted our lives, including schools across the US. Many universities have been forced to go online and modify their extracurricular activities. Some schools, like Embry-Riddle, have chosen a hybrid model instead of going fully online.
Students and faculty have had to adjust to their classes being held online. The Fall Activity Fair was no exception; this semester, it was held virtually. Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Activity Fair Organizer Kelsey Tempas stated that “without having to coordinate physical tables or chairs this year, the preparation for this event was pretty minimal.” An Activity Fair in this form was a new experience for everyone: incoming and returning students, club officers, and the staff organizing the event. Not only was this our first ever online Activity Fair, but this event was also being held on a brand-new platform: Remo.
“We picked the Remo platform because we wanted students to be able to explore our organizations in a similar way to an in-person Activity Fair, where they can look around and choose which tables they’re interested in connecting with,” Tempas explained. Even though the format of the event was the same with the concept of going from table to table, it was still different. Students had to learn how to navigate a new program.
“I guess since we couldn’t meet with the students in person, we had to adjust and learn how to navigate a new program,” said Phil Norton, President of the Assembly of Ballroom Dancers. He believes that “it was better than having the Activity Fair cancelled altogether.”
Remo is a virtual platform which can be compared to a building. It consists of multiple floors, and on each floor, there were tables which represented the various clubs on campus. Each club that wished to participate in the Activity Fair had to register prior to the event. The club was then assigned a virtual table on one of the four floors of the Remo platform. The tables were labeled with the name of the club, and at each table, there were six chairs. Some of the chairs were occupied by club officers, and the rest of the chairs were open to students who were interested in the club.
Norton feels that“this was a good way for officers to interact with students and give information about their club.” For navigational purposes, a floor plan of each level with the location of the different clubs was provided at the bottom of each page. Club officers set up a virtual whiteboard with information about their club. When students joined the event, they could choose between tables and chat with the officers of the clubs via microphone and video or a chat feature on the platform. “Given the circumstances, this was a great and safe way to connect with future members and talk to them about how the club is going to run,” Norton commented.
Overall, the virtual Activity Fair seemed to be a success. Some participants said that the virtual format was actually better than an in-person Activity Fair because they could attend from the comfort of their dorm or house.thers felt like they could visit clubs which they would not normally visit in-person for fear of being judged by their peers.
However, there were some participants who complained about the campus Wi-Fi lagging or even being dropped from the Wi-Fi completely. Some students had difficulties navigating Remo, and they wished the Activity Fair would be held in-person instead.
Perhaps their wishes will come true. Tempas indicated that “as much as I think the virtual Activity Fair was a success, nothing can replace being able to connect with folks in-person. Once it’s safe to do so, we’ll likely go back to an in-person Activity Fair.”
All-in-all, many students were grateful that the event actually took place and was not cancelled. “We had over 300 people in attendance, including more than 50 organizations. I think adjusting to the new platform was a challenge, but with a bit more awareness, I think it could be an even bigger success in the future,” Tempas added. Whether in-person or online, the Activity Fair is a wonderful place for students to find information about university clubs and connect with others that share their interests. The students of Embry-Riddle are very thankful to the organizers who helped make this virtual Activity Fair possible.