From exercising to shopping to eating at restaurants, the pandemic has changed the way we do many things. So, it’s no surprise that many things we do on campus have also changed—and running student clubs and organizations is a big one.

I asked a handful of our WSU club leaders what they’re doing to not let COVID-19 negatively impact their members’ experiences. Here’s what they had to say:

I’ve been putting in a lot of effort to connect with my editing staff. One of my editors is currently residing back in the Twin Cities, so we’ve been doing our best to include him in layout meetings over Zoom. 

Otherwise, the largest difficulty that we’ve faced as a newspaper is not being able to physically publish our first few issues due to the campus-wide quarantine. But we’ve tried to stay positive and use the extra time to write more in-depth articles for our readers.

Morgan Reddekopp

Editor-in-Chief, The Winonan

I’ve begun using social media much more for promoting the club and attracting new members. We’ve been hosting giveaways to encourage recruitment. Current members can win a club T-shirt if they recruit two new members.

Additionally, CAC decided that the main event we host in Winona County—Relay for Life—will be virtual. This is, of course, disappointing because Relay for Life is a very popular fundraising event. But the good news is that teams can still raise money for the American Cancer Society to find a cure for cancer. Despite not physically coming together, this is what we’re all about.

Otherwise, we just have to go with COVID-19 and hope that we can do our typical activities next year.

Kayce Redican

Co-President, Colleges Against Cancer

International Club isn’t just a club. It’s a family of all the international students at Winona State. 

Everyone wants to be with their families during these uncertain times. But traveling precautions, lockdowns, and time zone differences have prevented many of our international students from being with their families. That’s why we’ve been going the extra mile to connect with and support our members.

To stay safe during the pandemic, we’ve been hosting our regular meetings over Zoom. We also host fun events online, like game nights and “talks” where we discuss our cultures. 

Our hope is that involving our members in as many activities as possible, although remote, will make them feel more at home while they’re away from home.

Megh Khanal

Board Member, International Club

Her Campus thrives on an inclusive and social nature, so a big challenge has been creating that same feel over Zoom. I encourage members to keep their mics open while editing, so we can have fun conversations and bounce ideas off one another.

We’ve also struggled to establish a finite ‘active membership’ set of standards because our situation on campus changes daily. However, the level of care that I put into writing, editing, publishing, and promoting articles remains consistent. We also have an incredible events planning duo who brainstorm activities that can be carried out in multiple formats and reach even more writers.

I’m constantly trying to learn the best ways to foster trust with our members when I can’t make connections with them in person. I frequently offer my support on social media because I want our writers to know that they’re greatly appreciated.

Being a club leader during a pandemic has ultimately taught me to be adaptable and more understanding, which will prove useful in the future regardless of where I am.

Hannah Hippensteel

Co-President, Her Campus

As one of the largest student organizations on campus, it’s been difficult holding all our meetings over Zoom. AMA has also had to put many popular in-person activities—like the bags tournament, pancake breakfast, and other social gatherings and community charity events—on hold, which is disappointing. 

However, we’ve been able to overcome these challenges by keeping a sense of normalcy in the club. I’ve scheduled tons of interactive, online meetings for our members to attend.

We invite corporate speakers who are looking for interns and full-time workers. We host workshops to help our members with writing resumes and business emails, as well as setting up LinkedIn profiles. We also host virtual competitions where our members can showcase their skills and have a chance to win money. And on top of all that, we’ve planned some community service and fundraiser events. 

We’re very optimistic for next semester!

Keagen Zibell

President, American Marketing Association

As a club leader this semester, I’m trying my best to think outside the box for ways that we can continue to bring people together. But I won’t lie, it definitely has been difficult. When it does get hard, the best thing about my position is I have the support of some amazing, smart, and energetic women on Panhellenic Council

With COVID-19, some of our leaders can’t do what’s described in their position descriptions. When that happens, I’ve been able to oversee women who are willing to go the extra mile to work together and still plan fun events. 

That’s one of the best things to me about working in a group: the collaboration and team effort to make things happen. 

Everyone on the council and the three national sororities on campus have been great to work with because we all have the understanding that so much is unknown and out of our control. Now that Fall Primary Recruitment is over, we hope to continue to strengthen the Panhellenic community between the three sororities by planning events, whether those are virtual, hybrid, or in person.

Mary Rooney

President, Winona State Panhellenic Association

Tackling COVID-19 has been a challenge, but one that I’ve been happy to face. I’ve been trying to ensure the safety of all my Ambassadors by offering different ways of safe participation within the honorary, including virtual meetings, Kahoot! trivia games to maintain our knowledge about the campus, and community service opportunities. The latter allows us to not only give back to the university, but also increase our membership.

As a club, we’ve encountered issues with having enough tour guides to fill our times. We want to accommodate everyone’s needs as much as we can, but our mission is to “give the best tour ever.” If we don’t have guides, we can’t give tours. As a result, we’ve reduced the amount of weekly tours that we give and ramped up our recruiting to meet these issues head-on. For the tours we do give, our Ambassadors wear masks and are equipped with microphones, so they can physically distance themselves from prospective students and family but still be heard.

We understand it’s very hard to be available all the time, but our members have been incredible in working around their classes and other responsibilities to continue their involvement in our organization.

Jarred Schmitz

President, WSU Ambassadors Honorary

As a club leader, I’m making sure that I stay informed and up-to-date with any new and changing information about COVID-19. For a sports organization that’s all about in-person interactions, activities, and competitions, one obvious challenge we’ve faced is keeping up our players’ interest in remaining in the club virtually.

But to combat this, we host weekly practices over Zoom where we go over basic skills, rules, and anything related to rugby. The Black Katts also a part of the National Collegiate Rugby (NCR) Virtual Season, which assigns us weekly challenges that we split up between club members. These challenges change each week, so we’re always on our toes. At the end of the season, NCR picks a winner, and that campus will be awarded a brand new rugby kit. I’m grateful for the Virtual Season because it’s a great way for us to still get the competition vibe against other teams in the country without risking our safety.

Annika Culver

President, Women’s Rugby Sports Club, Black Katts

Two of the most predominant problems we faced as a club was figuring out how we would meet and how we were going to keep our members engaged. We decided to host most of our meetings over Zoom and one meeting per month in person. Doing so allows us to stay safe and “shake up” our routine, which helps everyone from becoming bored.

Additionally, Computer Science Club been hosting workshops where we teach WSU students about various computer science topics, like building a LAMP Stack. These workshops are a fun way to promote our organization and recruit new members because we’re open to teaching anyone interested in learning more.

Sulaiman Bada

President, Computer Science Club

Fall 2020 is our very first semester at Winona State, so we’re brand new. We’ve had to overcome a lot of hurdles relating to starting the club. But now that we’ve been officially approved by the University, our next challenge is to find creative ways to recruit members and instill some sense of excitement into extracurricular activities.

We’ve had to completely switch to online communication tactics, like many other clubs. We send out email newsletters, host open Zoom events, and even pop into virtual classrooms to promote our organization.

The advantage NSLS has over other clubs, however, is that we’re set up to be completely online. I think it’s easier now more than ever for us to be ‘connected’ to the WSU community from a distance.

We’ve had a less than perfect journey thus far, but we can handle a challenge moving forward and not be deterred.

Gabbie Bogolin

President, National Society of Leadership & Success

I think the biggest challenge I’ve faced is getting student feedback. 

As a member of Student Senate in previous years, I’ve simply asked my friends in the hallways or on our way to class what they think about the things happening on campus. I don’t have that same opportunity to talk to my friends and other students on campus about student life. So, our committees and members have been working on finding new ways to get student feedback.

Long-term planning has also proved to be difficult. The world is changing so quickly. We don’t know what tomorrow will look like, let alone next week or next month. I’ve been focusing a lot more of my time on maintaining Student Senate operations on a daily and weekly basis, and going from there.

Clara Kuerschner

President, Student Senate

I personally know how time-consuming (but rewarding!) it is to run a student organization. We may not be able to see everything you do behind the scenes, but we appreciate you and all the effort you put into running your clubs. 

You ultimately set an example for our campus population to stay #WarriorStrong, even during tough times. Thank you for stepping up and leading our college community!

If you’re a student who’s currently involved in a campus club, show your leaders some love. 

If you’re not involved in any student organizations but have been meaning to join, you’ve got lots of options—and it’s never too late. You’ll surely find a club (or two) that speaks to you out of our long list of campus organizations.

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Hailey Seipel

Hailey is an English: Applied and Professional Writing major with a Mass Communication: Journalism minor who will graduate in 2020. She is from Rosemount, MN, and and her interests include writing, listening to music, hiking, and watching football and basketball.