News, On campus

COVID-19 Continues to Affect Student Organizations

Students sit on a stage and answer questions from Black host.
Resident Hall Association hosted a Family Feud event in Derryberry Hall Saturday, Sept. 11.
Photo by Cassandra Pratt

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected many things worldwide, including life on Tech’s campus. However, despite the pandemic, activities and organizations on campus are in Full Flight this fall.

“Well, this semester, you know, we want to go Full Flight, like the university. Still do in person events,” Coordinator of Student Activities and Campus Life, Jerry Keeton, said. “We did the Mix ‘n’ Mingle, we held that event… We have continued Live on the Plaza. We’ve had nine of those scheduled for this fall, we’ve had two so far.”

In addition to the nine Live on the Plaza concerts planned this year, Tech has a slew of other in-person events on this year’s schedule. This includes the return of live, in-person SOLO concerts.

The University isn’t alone in their shift back to in-person events, however. Kester Nucum, president of University Catholic said, “I could really sense the excitement in University Catholic, for example. I saw this year when we did in person events… you can sense the excitement of finally being able to find that community.”

This shift comes as COVID-19 cases appear to be increasing. Between Aug. 19 and Sept. 1, there were 1,108 positive coronavirus cases in Putnam County, compared to 534 cases during the previous two-week period, according to the Tennessee Department of Health. This jump in cases could be in part due to students returning to campus, with classes having started on Aug. 19.

However, this hasn’t appeared to stop students from getting involved on campus. “We are in a stage of growth right now for University Catholic,” said Nucum, “… I’d say across the board, we have anywhere between 40-60 people that would be considered part of the University Catholic community.”

Surprisingly, student organizations had minimal drops in active members campus wide during the pandemic. Keeton said, “We had maybe 200-300 students less from 2019 to 2020 who participated in student organizations. You know we had probably 9,600 students who were involved in student organizations in 2019 and it was about 9,300 students involved in student organizations for 2020.”

Despite all of this, the pandemic has created at least one permanent change: virtual events. Tech continues to hold some student events virtually, like the Free Money Game Show on Aug. 31. Keeton said, “Virtual events, I don’t think, will ever go away now.”