Julia Nagel/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Clubs and organizations across Cornell have felt the effects of COVID-19 gathering restrictions that have impacted the campus community for the past year.

April 13, 2021

As Restrictions Loosen Up, Cornell Clubs Gather in-Person

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For the past year, clubs and organizations across Cornell have been forced from their normal campus homes and relegated to the black and green grid of Zoom.

Now, student organizations are permitted to hold gatherings of up to 10 people, provided that masks are worn and the event is registered with CampusGroups. However, many clubs still find it difficult to start up normal operations under these restrictions.

Members of Cornell Rocketry, a project team that builds high-powered rockets for competing in the Spaceport America Cup, has been implementing a mix of in-person and virtual meetings..

“We’re not allowed to do everything in-person. Team meetings are all over Zoom and everyone does their individual work on the rocket parts,” Deniz Tekant ’22 said. 

Since collaboration is essential for project teams, Cornell Rocketry has been allowed to operate at limited capacity in their Engineering Learning Lab preceding the new announcement.

“Project team directors give us guidelines for how many people are allowed in each space. It’s been easy for us because it’s not up to students to handle,” Tekant said. However, getting sponsorships for the team has not been as easy. 

While the club is able to gather in person, they have struggled to secure as much funding as they have in previous years. Typically, members of the team attend career fairs and pitch their projects to recruiters to get sponsors. With a virtual career fair, however, pitches have been less effective,recruiters are harder to get in contact with and companies have less money to give out.

Alpha Kappa Psi, a professional business fraternity, also found it difficult to operate without large in-person meetings. Since personal connections are an important aspect of business organizations, AKPsi has struggled to connect with its members. 

“This has been a bit of a challenge in terms of making sure members are able to stay involved and connected,” said Jack Kulas ’22, president of AKPsi. “It’s a lot harder to make meaningful connections through Zoom.”

With more than 50 people in the organization, it is still against the rules for AKPsi to hold in-person meetings for the whole organization. However, Kulas expressed that the club has been able to extend its reach through Zoom. 

“We’ve been able to host several virtual fireside chats with alumni panels and have had alumni from various industries attend our new member meetings to share their perspectives and advice,” Kulas said. “We hadn’t done this in the past, but it is proving to be very successful and popular among members, so it’s something we’re looking forward to continuing even after COVID.”

Cornell Strategic Consulting, which focuses on providing services to start-ups and small businesses led by Cornell students and alumni, faces similar issues to AKPsi. According to Jacob Meyer ’23, president of CSG, the club has moved meetings with founders of various ventures online — which has extended who CSG could work with. 

“We’ve adapted, and pretty seamlessly shifted our operations online through meetings on Zoom for project teams and clients,” Meyer said.

However, the shift online has made interaction with club members difficult, leading to less involvement with the organization.  

Now that socially-distanced socially-distanced in-person meetings are allowed, Meyer hopes to both continue using online and virtual resources as well as beginning to operate on campus with clients and team members once again.

Some students, such as Colton Lee ’24, a member of Fellowship for Christian Athletes, are simply excited about clubs being allowed to hold meetings, even if they are limited to 10 people. 

“I think having in-person meetings would be a great opportunity to get to know members of the club beyond the screen,” Lee said.

Moot Court, a club in which members prepare constitutional arguments for a competition, has also resumed in-person activities. Since the club does not involve close contact, its members, including Emma Garrison ’22, felt comfortable conducting activities at a distance with masks. .

“It’s nice to be face-to-face with the people you’re working with instead of some people having their cameras off or joining [Zoom] on their phones as they’re running from one thing to another,” Garrison said.