Stony Brook University’s online transition is affecting student-run clubs at the school as well.
Student Engagement & Activities sent an email to student executive boards on March 11 confirming that extracurriculars will be suspended through the rest of the month.
“We understand that this action may generate some questions, confusion and concerns for you regarding event logistics, funding, and vendor relations,” the email read. “Please know that you have our support to help work through this. Your assigned program advisor will reach out to your club’s leadership to discuss these issues and provide support to you and your organization. We will continue to keep you apprised of additional updates.”
Student-run clubs that had been running nominally prior to the policy now face a number of issues, including their ability to travel and perform at various events.
“I know I keep saying this, but it is pretty wild that this is all happening,” Ali Scala, a senior chemistry major, said in reference to the policy affecting the Philippine United Student Organization (PUSO), of which she’s a member. “A lot of our members happen to be seniors, like myself, so when this [policy] goes down, a lot of the commuter-types probably are not gonna stay on campus after the break, because some people’s parents do not want them to.”
Willem Joseph, a senior journalism major and vice president of the SBU Fencing Club said that they’ll be continuing as usual.
“Club championships are still happening in April, but we are taking precautions by washing all of our gear,” he said.
Joseph explained that the fencing club has been banned from all domestic and international travel, according to an email sent from Treasury of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Adrian Ortega.
“Any cancellation fees will be taken out of your club’s budget,” Ortega wrote in the email. “We will be working to cancel each voucher for off-campus trips.”
Ortega confirmed with The Statesman that though the fees will be taken from club budgets, it won’t negatively impact their budgets in the future since USG understands “that it’s out of their hands.”
The event that they were planning to attend remains open for other competitors.
The fencing club will not be representing itself for the first time this semester at tournaments in Springfield, Massachusetts and at Adelphi University.
Joseph said that some seniors in the club are choosing not to or are unable to return to campus after spring break. The loss of their senior club members, which make up roughly half of the club, leaves their team short-stocked for the rest of the semester.
Although Joseph said that he is unhappy that the policy interferes with events that they were planning to attend, he is preparing to keep himself and remaining club members as healthy as possible.
“We are going to be running weekly washes on our uniforms and drying them out,” Joseph said. “We are not even sure if it is going to be necessary anymore, especially because running practices after Friday may be a pipe dream.”
Other organizations on campus are facing their own dilemmas. The Actor’s Conservatory, for instance, is in the midst of rehearsing for their musical, “JoJo’s Bizarre Musical,” which was going to be performed at the end of the semester. New university policies could mean that the production is postponed or completely canceled.
Victoria Lawrence, a play director and junior chemistry major, said she and her peers are worried that the musical won’t run.
“Pushing it off is something nobody wants to do because a lot of our actors are seniors and graduating this semester, we do not want to have to push everything to the fall semester, so it’s just a conundrum,” Lawrence said.
She pointed out that since classes and exams are going online, many students might just go home.
“It’s not like we can reschedule it because some people are probably going to be sent home,” Lawrence said.
The policy also affects end-of-year events, including the SBU Belly Dancing club’s senior recital. Jessica Berino, a senior creative writing major and president of the SBU Belly Dancing club, said she doesn’t know what the club is going to do for weekly meetings after the break.
“We are all taking precautions though and are following along with the guidelines for the school and the CDC [Centers for Disease Control] but I honestly can not say what is going to happen if it continues to get worse,” Berino said. “Maybe [members of the Belly Dance club] will all video-conference for practices. It is anyone’s guess now.”
A professor said he believes that the school has the students’ best interests at heart, despite the anxiety from staff and students over going completely online.
“It’s sad enough to see classes transition online and lose that sense of connection, the clubs here on campus create that sense of community just as well,” Andrew Flescher, an English and public health professor at Stony Brook, said. “I trust that if [the policy] does happen, it is the right call, as we have to get ahead of this virus, which we can only do by reducing the amount times we convene in close proximity in relatively cramped spaces,” he said.