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Student organizations struggle to maintain normalcy online

By Giovanna Marchini

Almost every student at the College has been immersed in student organizations — but when the global pandemic forced the College to shut down for the rest of the school year, organizations that depend on meeting in person struggled to continue online. Many students are finding that applications like Zoom or Google Hangouts can only offer so much to fill the lack of fundamental campus equipment, space and technology.    

“This quarantine has had an extreme negative impact on productivity since (TCNJ Lions Television) is not producing new content,” said Sara Scopellito, a junior marketing major and the upcoming station manager for LTV. “There is not much that can be done in our organization since we do not have access to equipment. Events, such as our spring banquet, have been canceled.”  

According to Scopellito, LTV relies on access to cameras and sound equipment, which many students do not have access to at home. 

“It is impossible for us to produce content without meeting in person,” she said.

Lions Television faces challenges in maintaining production without using the equipment on campus (Envato Elements).

Meanwhile, Sydney McGowan, a junior early childhood education and psychology dual major and the treasurer of a cappella group The Treblemakers, has found similar difficulties with her group’s dynamic since the College canceled in-person meetings and events.

“We had to cancel our spring concert, a cappella invitationals with other college groups and events on campus we look forward to each semester, like TCNJam,” McGowan said.  

Instead of focusing on their work production, both LTV and the Treblemakers have chosen to focus more energy on staying connected. Both organizations use Zoom to play board games and host Netflix parties, and even though the main purpose of these groups were brought to an abrupt halt, the members still intentionally connect with one another.

Other student organizations haven’t found as many difficulties with the lockdown measures, and have continued their usual meetings online.

Tara Mild, the upcoming president for the Leadership Development Program, expressed that while they do not meet on Zoom as often as they did in person, members still try to attend meetings as frequently as possible.  

The group typically relies on “a lot of hands-on engagement and activities,” according to Mild, but is still able to conduct modified meetings. In fact, the program’s members recently met online to conduct an exercise in public speaking, similar to one they would host in person.  

“We are all in better spirits at the end of a virtual meeting,” Mild said.  

Undoubtedly, student organizations have been forced to alter their tasks in order to keep as much of a sense of normalcy as they can muster. But having figured out ways to stay connected, many members are able to keep their organizations operating — just with far fewer events taking place than previously anticipated.

“Being a part of LTV is my favorite part about being at college,” Scopellito said. “Hopefully we will be on campus again in the fall, and we can get back to doing what we love.”


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