Professors and faculty weren’t the only ones scrambling to figure out a new way to navigate the virtual world. Student organizations also had to adjust to this new world, especially the student organizations that just kicked off.
Oakland University students have the opportunity to develop their own organizations, funding and training is provided courtesy of the Office for Student Involvement (OSI). Before COVID-19, an incentive to drive attendance to these events was free food or items. There isn’t an incentive to get students to join an organization during a pandemic, so getting the foot traffic and attendance has been harder, especially on student organizations that didn’t have a chance to get their footing.
GrizzFit is an organization that enhances the community around eating healthy, exercising, mental health and working toward your personal goals. President of GrizzFit Clark Brady and his friends wanted to get in better shape, so they frequented the gym together. In the summer of 2020, Brady and his friends took their collective enjoyment and turned it into a student organization and began hosting meetings in the fall of 2020.
“We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to expand on it with the community,” Brady said.
After being discouraged with how the events of 2020 played out, they haven’t been as active on social media as they would have hoped, but they do host weekly meetings on Google Meet on Sundays at 6 p.m. The turnout averages to about eight people, and their personal goals for the week are discussed.
But they’ve been struggling with getting word out about the organization, because their recruitment style was traditionally word of mouth at the gym, and with social distancing implemented at the recreation center it’s been harder to do that.
“When you’re trying to build a community around fitness, it’s tough because a lot of that is the interaction and getting to know people who are doing the same things that you’re struggling with,” Brady said. “The people we want to recruit are people that want to go through this with other people and support them. It’s tough to do that with the pandemic because it’s hard to make those interactions.”
Despite this, the organization did successfully host two virtual events their first semester. Hosting both virtual yoga and zumba classes attracting the attention of 12 students.
Brady still mentions the challenges of coming up with and hosting these events and wishes that there were more resources available to assist in getting the word out about upcoming events. He hopes to work with the housing office to display advertisements on the TV screens and putting up posters.
The entire executive board are seniors so their torch will be passed by the end of winter semester, and they’ve begun thinking about the next steps for the org and hope that it survives another year.
“I want to come back one day and hear that it’s still going, and that it made it out of COVID,” Brady said. “Hopefully, when things open up, people will want to do things with the organizations.”
To keep up with GrizzFit or support other student orgs visit oaklandu.campuslabs.com/engage/organizations.