Members of United Way work together during Shred Day (Fall 2020).
Salisbury University clubs and organizations were hit hard during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over a year later, clubs and organizations are still struggling to adapt.
President of Student United Way, Johannah Copper, believes organizations’ low turnout and recruitment struggles are a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Copper noticed a 50 percent decrease in her organization’s participants in comparison with past semesters.
“In a normal semester, I would say, by now we would have some people that would have reached out and signed up and committed to those dates [volunteer dates,] and we haven’t seen any of that [participant commitment] so far.”
Cooper also felt the pandemic has interfered with her organization’s top priority — fundraising.
Fundraising is an essential part of Student United Way as the organization strives to help lower eastern shore residents with financial stability.
SU United Way collecting makeup bags for The City of Salisbury's Housing and Homeless Services.
“From the club’s standpoint, it’s been really difficult to coordinate and recruit volunteers for these [fundraising] events with all the regulations from a public health standpoint, but also from the university. We’ve been really struggling to find projects that are keeping everyone safe and still being worth our time.”
Cooper acknowledges the limitations of COVID on her organization and other students.
One of these limitations being Zoom’s inability to provide similar experiences prior to the
“As far as participation, I think everybody is just so busy and trying to adapt and do the best they can. It’s kind of hard to … be upset when people just can’t take on one more thing,” Cooper said.
President of Comedy Gulls, Peter Schloff has noticed significant decreases in member attendance because of the pandemic as well.
SU Comedy Gulls Pre-COVID
Comedy Gulls has lost more than half its members during the pandemic according to Schloff.
“[Because of] this semester [not having] an activities fair, it’s been nearly impossible for us to reach out to any new incoming students or students that didn’t go to the in-person or Zoom activities fair [last semester],” said Schloff. “It’s been real difficult to find new members … It has been a pretty significant challenge for us to overcome, especially as a small group when we don’t really have the ability to advertise…”
Schloff felt his now virtual club, which focuses on improv skills and performances, isn’t the same.
Schloff believed an in-person setting was important for his club’s members to get the most out of their experience.
SU Comedy Gulls Pre-COVID
“The whole point of our club is to work on public speaking skills … to make people more comfortable thinking on the spot and expressing themselves on the spot and working in teamwork, and without having that audience to give you feedback, and having your … stage to preform, it feels almost hollow … You’re up on stage, but you don’t have the real sort of boost you would get from being in person.”
Student Government Association Director for Diversity and Inclusion, and Secretary of Outreach for SU Model United Nations, Dorien Rogers, felt the biggest challenges for organizations are member recruitment and retention.
SU SGA November 2020
Roger’s concerns were not limited the current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. His concerns also focused on the potential impact of low recruitment on the future and legacies of student organizations.
“I know, last semester, when I was speaking to a lot of the clubs and organizations, they were talking about … ‘how can we ensure that the next generation of students — that are taking part in clubs or organizations — are going to keep the organization going?’ Because if they have no new recruitments, that could lead organizations not being able to come back…”
SU SGA participating in Unity Through Diversity Week.
Although the future of clubs, organizations and COVID is uncertain, the thoughts of current clubs and organizations seem to be clear — this isn’t working.
United Way images provided by Johannah Cooper
Comedy Gulls images provided by Peter Schloff
SGA images provided by Dorien Rogers