Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

FAU student organizations overcome pandemic challenges, face new recruitment hurdles

Since COVID-19, recruitment in student organizations has been suffering. Student leaders are still fighting for increased involvement.
Students+walking+in+the+Breezeway.
Erika Fletcher
Students walking in the Breezeway.

In a world transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic, where social interactions underwent a dramatic shift, student organizations have been facing unprecedented challenges, including recruitment struggles and financial impacts.

Amidst this new normal, representatives from various FAU student organizations share their insights on maintaining an engaged student body.

Associate Director of Programs and Traditions Kayla Cabrera mentions that student organizations are now more in touch with how they present themselves than in previous years. She believes this is due to the fact that during the pandemic, recruitment was difficult.

“If anything, the pandemic showed us that social interactions can be taken for granted. As our student organizations got back on their footing, they definitely struggled with membership,” Cabrera said. “However, I believe that we made great strides here at FAU. A lot of our organizations are up and running as well as more understanding when it comes to how you interact with people.” 

Groups are now being more proactive in trying to recruit around the campus community. 

“Tabling has been more effective, and some organizations are doing more off campus interactive events,” said Victoria Armand, Student Government Program Board director.

FAU has over 300 student organizations, and multiple factors such as finance and technology affect student involvement.

Michaella Louis, founder and current president of the Community Service Club, believes that getting involved is beneficial in several ways. “[Students can] meet new people, build connections, and access opportunities that can greatly benefit their future careers,” she said.

While in an organization, students are allowed to hold an executive board position such as president, secretary, or treasurer. Students gain leadership experience from these positions and how to work in a group—working towards a common goal. From these experiences, students are able to gain skills such as communication, leadership, and time management. 

“These are skills that will help you whether it’s on this campus or once you graduate and you go off to do big and great things,” said Cabrera. 

Financial factors

Factors such as membership fees can negatively influence student involvement. 

Ana Gonzalez Sanchez, FAU’s Assistant Director of Student Activities & Involvement, said “The cost of living in South Florida being so extraordinarily high,” and later added that in some cases, membership dues can hinder student interest.

Some organizations require membership fees to break even given event planning costs, said Armand.

Cabrera believes paying membership fees could put students at an advantage under certain circumstances. Such fees may help a student get the opportunity to have a t-shirt or other exclusive merchandise. 

“Paying them just gets you a different status within the organization,” she said.

Thy Nguyen, member of the Society of Women Engineers, states that her organization does create club fees for their members, and that she has paid club fees to help the organization.

With the amount of funding each organization receives, organizations may resort to membership fees to help support their overall club.

Technology usage

After the pandemic, technology has become a major factor in helping connect students to campus life. For example, student organizations may host online events or have virtual meetings instead of in-person ones. This has allowed for more flexibility when scheduling and attending events. 

“Some students have to commute more than 30-plus minutes,” said Sanchez. She later added that part-time job obligations can also impact students’ opportunities to get involved.

In response, professional staff have sought to hold events that students can attend without leaving their rooms. “Maybe you’re live-streaming your event, giving people the opportunity from home to watch and still participate,” said Cabrera.

Organizations also use messaging platforms such as GroupMe and Discord to stay in touch with each other and help build community in that way and they use Owl Central to help promote their events.

“It’s amazing how organizations can create that sense of community in a zoom. Or a group play of watching a movie together, that’s something that has come out of the pandemic but has persisted because it is fun and people still enjoy it,” Cabrera said.

Zhaira Rodriguez is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this story or others, contact her at [email protected] 

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Erika Fletcher, Lead Photographer
Erika is a junior majoring in multimedia studies with a minor in photography. She loves shooting sports and street photography and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, skateboarding, playing soccer, listening to music, and being with her friends and family. She joined the UP on a whim to make new friends and to get better at photography. In her time here, while not long, she's made connections and learned so much about herself already and can't wait to continue her journey with such great people.

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