Student leaders return to in-person programming following University’s reopening

Media Credit: Danielle Towers | Assistant Photo Editor

The Hindu Student Association will host its first welcome event, themed “A Night in Bombay,” on Sunday in the University Student Center.

In-person meetings and events are back in full swing for student organizations across campus after the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted community building and member engagement strategies for more than a year.

Leaders from half a dozen student organizations said they will host events and general body meetings in person this fall so students can socialize more easily, while still implementing safety measures like mask mandates and limited capacities to keep students safe. After students spent the pandemic tuning into online meetings from isolated rooms, organization leaders said they hope in-person programming will ramp up engagement among their members who are back on campus as a result of GW’s reopening this fall.

Julian Milan, the communications director for GW Transfers, an organization that works to welcome transfer students to the University, said members will spend the fall semester hosting in-person events and trips across the District for transfers, like a Nationals game that 20 students attended together.

“I felt a lot of people are kind of over doing things through Zoom and stuff like that,” he said. “Doing things in-person kind of would get a lot more people to come out and kind of interact with each other,” he said.

He said GW Transfers rented a large space in the University Student Center to hold a meeting introducing members to the new e-board this week. He said now that events are in person, the organization’s attendance at meetings has increased from about 10 to roughly 30 or 40 students.

“I’m a junior, and this was my first time on campus because I transferred last year,” he said. “So a lot of people are kind of in the same boat. So just trying to get to know each other and kind of make connections.”

He said the organization has tried to keep events outdoors this semester so students can space out, and members must distance and wear masks during indoor meetings. He said transfer students should make the most of their years at GW as they experience campus for a shorter period of time.

Kiera Rudden-Flanagan, a senior studying mechanical engineering and the membership director of the GW Shakespeare Company, said the organization will host two in-person performances planned this semester. They said the organization also planned in-person cast parties for the fall, but e-board members will meet in a hybrid format throughout the semester.

“​​Pretty much everyone wanted to do in-person stuff as much as possible,” they said. “Our board meetings are hybrid, so some people Zoom in every week and some people go in person.”

Nikhila Archakam, the president of the Hindu Students Association, said HSA will hold a mix of in-person and virtual meetings for its approximately 50 members. She said in-person programming is necessary because members will be able to enjoy religious events more so when they’re together.

Archakam said the organization will host their first Welcome Event Sunday,  themed “A Night in Bombay” in the Continental Ballroom.

“We plan on being 100 percent safe, adhering to the mask mandate and all other regulations, and we feel religious events would not be enjoyed unless you are with loved ones in person,” she said.

Noah Henriksen – the president of GW Roundnet, a spikeball club on campus – said the organization of about 30 members hosts practice and pickup games every Saturday, and is currently planning tournaments for the year. He said aside from information sessions, the organization depends on the return to in-person operations so members can gather together and play some games on the weekends.

“Our club is all about playing the sport of roundnet and building community through that, which is difficult to do when you can’t play together,” he said.

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