With the start of a new school year comes excitement and expectations for new memories, new friends and new experiences. As the semester progresses, students are faced with having to adapt to a new way of campus living during the COVID-19 pandemic. While many universities across the country have made the decision to hold [only] virtual classes, ORU students are able to attend classes this year in person, but with new regulations.
This new university standard, coined ORUSAFE, allows students to attend classes and live on campus with protocols in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These changes impact not only dorm and class life, but social life on campus, as well. One of the biggest challenges ORU’s Student Association is faces regarding community and campus life is being able to plan for students to be physically and socially distant while still being able to hold their events this year.
“We’re going to have to emphasize the sanitation and distancing you see here [on campus]. It may be that we only allow a certain number of people in groups, or we just have to spread the groups out,” said Nichole Voerman, the executive director for SA. Because ORU is hugely community-based, Voerman recognized that there may be difficulties with staying safe when the student body is so tight-knit.
“Although there will be many changes to social life and events on campus,” Voerman continued, “SA hopes to hold their traditional events such as Partiestival, Homecoming and Battle of the Bands this year. There are obviously no promises, but we are trying our hardest to make them happen.”
Given the fluidity of the situation ORU is facing this year, SA is hoping to hold more creative events that students can participate in from anywhere on campus—campus-wide art projects, ramen noodle cook-offs or even more virtual events. Another idea Voerman posed to SA was holding outdoor fitness classes around campus. SA tries to conceptualize events where students could be physically distanced and stay safe while still doing something collectively as a student body. Although many are disappointed about the change in social life this year, it especially impacts the freshmen.
“You’ve been given the keys to the kingdom, essentially, and the opportunity to make this year your own,” Voerman gives out as advice to students.
Freshmen, along with the rest of the student body, can expect to see updates and upcoming events happening soon. Event dates can be seen around campus, in chapel announcements or on SA’s instagram @oru.sa. Until then, students can look forward to a year full of exciting events, even if they look a little different than previous years.