By Nina Mendes
News & Features Editor
With the fall semester in full swing, FGCU organizations are looking to keep students involved in their usual clubs and activities.
Many student-led groups held virtual events over the summer to keep their members engaged, but that’s changed since students arrived back on campus.
According to President Martin’s July 26 Coronavirus Update Video, the ongoing pandemic has resulted in 65% of courses switching to virtual learning. This means campus is more quiet than usual.
However, organizations are determined to keep students connected by having events on and off campus again.
Programming Board (PB) has hosted multiple events over the past two weeks requiring face masks/coverings, social distancing and limited occupancy.
“The most challenging part of planning events for this semester has been adjusting to the new normal,” said PB President, Sam Nelson. “We will be completing extra safety measures including touchless check-in, sanitizing equipment, single point distribution of food and more.”
PB wants to remind event participants of their personal responsibility to each other and to follow CDC guidelines.
FGCU junior Tristen Lee attended PB’s First Day Fair on the library lawn last week.
“There was never a time when I felt like my health was at risk,” said Lee. “I would attend another event because I like to stay involved on campus.”
If a student breaks health and safety protocol while at a PB event, they will be asked to leave.
The same rules of social distancing and limited occupancy apply to events hosted by PGA Golf Management (PGM), another group holding semester kick-off events.
PGM’s Back to School Skins Game was held at Alico Family Golf last Friday at an outdoor venue and masks were optional.
“Being at an outdoor venue, we are not required to wear masks assuming social distancing is maintained, but if any of our members feel like wearing a mask, they are encouraged to do so,” said PGM President Noah Hedberg. “Golf is considered a safe recreational activity by the state of Florida, [so] I feel that it is safe to host events in person.”
Hedberg also said PGM will host virtual meetings for members to stay informed.
Although Hedberg is concerned that PGM will not be able to give their members the experience that they are used to due to the challenges of COVID-19, he plans to continue hosting events to keep students in the organization engaged.
“I’m not worried that we are encouraging students to gather during the pandemic because professional golf management students hold themselves to a high standard of being professional in the workplace, the University and outside of school,” Hedberg said.
The Assistant Director of Sport Programs, Andrew Funari, has similar apprehension. Funari was on the planning committee for REXPO, the annual club sports fair, that was held for students last Tuesday.
REXPO is one of the many events held during FGCU’s Weeks of Welcome designed to greet new and returning students on campus.
“We don’t want students to misinterpret Weeks of Welcome events as an excuse to forgo social distancing,” Funari said. “We recognize there is a demand for social activities, and we are trying to fulfill that need in a safe way, so students are less inclined to gather on their own.”
The event followed CDC guidelines with an emphasis on face masks, reducing points of contact, cleaning and disinfecting.
Funari said the organization briefly considered holding REXPO virtually but decided to host it in-person instead to enhance the FGCU community experience.
“Like any event we host, there is always the concern of how it will be received by the students,” Funari said. “We want to provide an enjoyable college experience with learning beyond just classes.”
All three organizations, PB, PGM and Sports Programs, said they will host a variety of both in-person and virtual events throughout the semester. They are hopeful that events will bring students together after a long period of quarantine isolation.
Funari emphasized the importance of the student body cooperating with each other to ensure maximum safety.
He said, “we want to provide opportunities that enrich their college experience outside of the classroom while providing a safe environment, but it takes the entire FGCU community working together to achieve that.”