Members of the tabletop gaming club, Board to Death, at last year’s Megagame that had to be canceled due to COVID-19. Credit: Courtesy of Emma Ives

Of the more than 1,400 student organizations on Ohio State’s campus, almost none can hold their events as planned.

University President Michael V. Drake’s March 12 email informed students that the spring semester would continue virtually, and most students living in university housing would be required to move out of residence halls the following week.

For many, COVID-19 has disrupted not only their academic and day-to-day lives, but much-anticipated extracurricular events. With social distancing policies intended to limit public exposure to the virus, students have been forced to say goodbye to many spring semester activities.

Dan Lemr, a fourth-year in physics and mathematics and president of board game club Board to Death, said he had to deal with a major disruption of the student organization’s executive board election process. The election was delayed for a few weeks and forced the group to figure out a remote voting system as quickly as possible.

The group also canceled all remaining meetings, as well as its final large-scale event of the year, which it typically uses to train the new executive board members, Lemr said. Known as a Megagame, this 8-10 hour event usually requires one to two months of preparation to solidify rules and finish the creative writing necessary to build the world of the game for the players and gamemasters.

“There’s obviously a lot of disappointment among club members,” Lemr said. “The whole thing is just stress relief, so a lot of them are disappointed that during one of the most, if not the most, stressful parts of the year they just don’t have that.”

Greek life has also been hit by restrictions amid the university’s closure. Both Drew Fitch and Kenzie Fennig, respective presidents of the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association at Ohio State, both said they have been holding Zoom video conference meetings, taking polls, starting email chains and participating in group messages with their executive boards to try to find the best courses of action for the immediate future.

“We’re suspending all IFC events and chapter events for the remainder of the semester, which includes date parties, philanthropy events, formals and any other event that requires registration through sorority and fraternity life,” Fitch said. “I’m doing my part to try to keep [morale] up with my board, but it’s tough.”

Fennig said the PHA is also canceling all events and asking members to move out of any university-approved housing following Ohio State’s decision to move students off campus.

“I think everyone understands why it has to happen. I think across the board, whether it’s Greek life, athletics, high schools, whatever it is, everyone understands it has to happen, but it just sucks,” Fennig said. “Everyone feels a little bit robbed, but we also understand and respect why it is the way it is, and I think a lot of the chapters are doing an amazing job of making sure that health is the first priority.”

Fenning said despite the cancellations, the outcome of everyone’s efforts and reunion will be worth it.

“I think what we want to emphasize is the love that everyone has for one another, because that is ultimately what will get us through and have us be so excited to come back to campus and see one another next year,” Fennig said. “We can do our part in lessening the curve and getting us back to being a healthy community.”

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