Functions have been limited to a maximum attendance of 100 people per the University’s attempt to combat the spread of COVID-19. This policy aligns with current Porter County guidelines for large groups, which also states that gatherings of more than 100 people need clearance from the Porter County Health Department.
Campus organizations that attract mass amounts of students for their events have had increasing difficulty and created innovative solutions alike, namely the University Programming Council (UPC) and Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL).
“We have had to make accommodations to adjust for those restrictions,” said UPC President Lily Warren. “It’s a lot of trial and error.”
However, UPC has still hosted events that are tradition to Valpo’s Welcome Week such as college survival bingo, rock the ARC, movie night and canvas night.
“At a lot of our events, we do have to turn people away once we meet capacity and that’s sad for us to do,” Warren said.
The popularity of their events has forced the organization to explore alternative methods for providing students with unforgettable experiences. UPC has begun focusing on virtual options that will allow for more attendees at their events, while still abiding by the University’s mandate.
“Just because an event is virtual, even one that may have otherwise been in person, it doesn’t necessarily have to hinder the experience,” Warren said. “Something we have really put at the center of our programming this semester is not only making sure that students are safe...we want to go the extra step and make sure students are comfortable. If students aren’t comfortable we aren’t going to be able to achieve our goal, which is ultimately to allow students a space to have fun and make memories and socialize on campus.”
Likewise, FSL has experienced numerous obstacles regarding events, recruitment and service. Fraternities and sororities have already hosted various events, including the FSL meet and greet, along with smaller activities like games of Spikeball. Although these events have allowed interactions with FSL, gathering limits have produced obstacles in terms of familiarizing students early on with each organization. This has spurred unique solutions to arise from FSL students.
Vice President of Recruitment for Alpha Gamma Delta, Emma Vicari, shares that she has minimized the members present at events to 10 to increase the participation of potential new members.
Much like UPC, FSL has utilized virtual encounters as a leading alternative to large gatherings.
“If the women just feel more comfortable having a one on one meeting instead of attending one of our larger scale events, those have been more successful than the events themselves,” Vicari said.
Chelsea VanAken, Chapter President of Kappa Kappa Gamma, commented in regards to limited gathering sizes and sorority recruitment.
“Our Panhellenic and NPC councils have made movements to go more virtual so that way people are comfortable still recruiting and going through recruitment in the spring, especially when we do our majority recruitment,”VanAken said.
Both Vicari and VanAken agree that their sorority’s philanthropy will look different this semester as they adhere to the smaller group guidelines. Alpha Gamma Delta has changed its approach to accomplishing its service goals of fighting hunger while still attempting to work closely with Hilltop and Meals on Wheels. Whereas Kappa Kappa Gamma has reconfigured its fundraising events completely this semester.
“The environment that we’re working in right now, it’s a new thing, so everyone is trying to maneuver and maneuver safely so we’re not contributing to the spread,” VanAken said.
As Valparaiso University continues to announce new policies to keep students healthy, comfortable and on campus, organizations strive to deliver the best experience possible.