New student organizations develop despite pandemic problems

Baylor's Late Night looked different this year as opposed to prior years, with prospective group members meeting organizations digitally, instead of in person, as shown in this Lariat file photo from before the pandemic. Lariat File Photo

By Mallory Harris | Reporter

While the Baylor administration worked for a way to allow students to return to campus amid COVID-19, Student Activities employees have also been thinking of ways for student organizations to remain present and active during the fall semester.

As students attended events to interact with organizations, they may have seen some new faces. For this fall semester, 19 groups have been officially chartered as Baylor student organizations. Even working with COVID-19 regulations, these various clubs have made their presence known.

“COVID-19 adjustments required initial attention in March 2020, but the review process was able to be completed in time for organizations to be chartered for the start of this school year,” Director of Student Activities Matt Burchett said.

One of the new groups on campus is the Baylor Women’s Rugby Club. After starting their paperwork during the spring, it wasn’t until classes started this fall that they were given the go ahead. Without worry about future games, due to COVID-19, the Women’s Rugby Club is excited to grow and learn together with new members.

“We did Late Night, which was a huge success, and we have a social media account, which is really fun posting about things that we’re doing,” Glendora, Calif., junior Madi Vincent, captain of the women’s rugby club, said. “A lot of the rugby girls have jobs in different areas and so that’s how we [attract members]. We just ask people ‘what are you doing this Monday?’”

Even though the Baylor Women’s Rugby Club’s charter process was interrupted by the pandemic, that was not the case for the Peer Ally Coalition.

This group, which was officially chartered in the fall of 2019, stands for a culture of acceptance and safety for students seeking or who are in recovery from addiction. Even though it’s almost been a year since their charter, the Peer Ally Coalition didn’t get much footing due to the spring 2020 semester being cut short. However, the club’s president, Honolulu junior Shantel Lagard, is excited for what they have planned this fall.

“This fall, we are taking a more philanthropic and community service approach,” Lagard said. “We are looking into doing donation drives as well as figuring out how we can better serve the Baylor community and the Waco community.”

Each week, groups around campus have been receiving new information regarding whether they can meet on or off campus. The latest information from Student Activities explains that university-funded and sponsored organizations can start meeting on campus with an adviser present. Off-campus events are still prohibited according to Student Activities. Other recognized and affiliated student organizations will start meeting once data trends have been evaluated from the prior meetings.

In keeping with Baylor and Waco guidelines, Student Activities has developed their own set of regulations for organizations to hold meetings. By monitoring building and tent capacities around campus and having advisers present, Student Activities hasn’t given up on the fall semester.