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Friday, May 29, 2020

Activities & Organizations

Student organizations begin virtual recruitment


Chris Charleston/The Cougar

With the second half of the spring semester shifted to an online format and new student orientations being held virtually, UH student organizations have been adapting their new officer training, recruitment and activities to accommodate social distancing.

In light of this new virtual process, the orientation team leaders are hosting a virtual Cougar Carnival to showcase over 400 organizations, fraternities and sororities, leadership exploration and development opportunities that the University has to offer.

Volunteer Collegiate Orchestra is composed of students who present their music to musically-underserved communities such as nursing homes, hospitals and homeless shelters. Since these populations typically can’t attend concerts, the students give them an opportunity to experience live music.

Kinesiology and exercise science senior Sam Biskynis, VCO’s historian, said that the organization is continuing their mission while complying with social distancing guidelines.

The students have been creating a music video and sending it to the nursing homes that they previously planned to visit in person. They also included personal messages of hope in the video.

“Once we figure out the ins and outs of that, we will hopefully be able to start making more, with different ones including music tailored for the audience,” Biskynis said, adding that the organization also plans to send music videos to children’s hospitals.

Despite the workaround, Biskynis expressed sadness at not being able to perform in person. She said her favorite part of the organization is the human connection she discovers through conversations with her audience members.

“I absolutely love talking to the people we meet and listening to them share their stories,” Biskynis said. “There’s something about playing music in person for people that brings everyone together, and in more than just the physical sense.”

While VCO is continuing its community service, the organization is still active in advertising on social media and is sending in materials and information to be distributed at Cougar Carnival.

Biskynis said that a less dramatic change in leadership between the 2019-20 and 2020-21 academic years has resulted in very little differences in officer meetings. Since only one officer graduated this spring and two new officers joined, the only major difference has been the shift to virtual communication. 

The American Medical Students Association is also holding officer meetings online and will continue to do so throughout the summer.

AMSA aims to guide and support students pursuing careers in the medical field. The organization holds workshops with topics ranging from admissions tests to applications, and it brings in speakers from different medical specialties and arranges medical school tours.

Biology senior Bibian Vazquez, the organization’s president, said that some workshops and social activities were held online for spring 2020. Events for the fall semester may be handled in the same way if large group gatherings continue to be banned.

 The organization is working on a PowerPoint presentation to submit to the orientation team.

“We want to use as many resources as possible so that incoming students know about us and what we do,” Vasquez said. “(Canceled in-person events) won’t stop us from trying to give our members as much as we can!”

Biskynis is also optimistic about her organization’s future, whether it is online or in person.

“Really (we’re) all just trying to make the best of a bad situation and we’re doing everything we can to keep our mission going strong until the world starts to open up,” she said.

For more of The Cougar’s coronavirus coverage, click here.

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