The Ohio State University Involvement Fair on Aug. 18, 2019. This year, the Involvement Fair will be held virtually on Aug. 23. Credit: Cori Wade | Photo Editor

With more than 1,400 registered student organizations, Ohio State provides many opportunities for students to get involved on campus, and COVID-19 has not changed that. 

Incoming students should not be deterred from getting involved at Ohio State as student organizations have been eager to accommodate physical distancing policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the traditional involvement fair, scheduled for Aug. 23, will be virtual this year, according to the Safe and Healthy OSU website.

Student organization meetings are recommended to be limited to less than 100 people, practice physical distancing, request RSVPs, require face masks and communicate all processes and expectations to members prior to meetings, according to guidance released by the Office of Student Life. 

Intramural sports will continue to run virtual programs and will slowly phase in in-person activities, but high-contact activities in close quarters such as basketball and soccer will not be permitted, according to guidance released by the Office of Student Life. The Office of Recreational Sports will work with individual sports clubs to determine the appropriate standards for a scheduled return to competition and practice. 

According to Olson and Pelletier, the largest registered organization — CEO at OSU, a group that inspires Ohio State students to seek out leadership positions by bringing in CEOs of large companies to share their experiences — has more than 700 members listed on their active roster, with other organizations having around 200 members. Pelletier said these organizations should think about how they can meet virtually or break down into smaller teams and groups. 

“It’s not advisable to bring 100 people into a shared space, so how can they do things virtually for some of their meetings?” Olson said. “Lots of options and those are the things that we’re still working to figure out and provide some guidance on.”

Getting involved on campus is incredibly important for incoming students to form meaningful connections and have meaningful experiences at Ohio State, Olson said.

“Involvement still happens in all kinds of settings, and I feel like this now provides another sort of avenue for when we talk about like there’s no specific path to getting involved that you have to follow and there’s no specific place that involvement happens,” Olson said. “There are still ways for you to find meaningful connections on campus, whether or not that’s in a virtual or physical space.”

Pelletier said she recommends students look at three things when getting involved: activities that they enjoy doing, new activities they have never tried before and activities that connect back to their academic field. 

Pelletier said organizations affiliated with a college or academic area account for about one-third of total organizations on campus. 

“Clearly connecting their academic experience with their co-curricular experience is important to a lot of students,” Pelletier said. 

Olson added that after academic organizations, organizations related to activism and service made up the next highest percent of categories of student organizations. 

Student organizations continued to register throughout the pandemic, prior to the deadline of April 15, Olson said. A new registration window opens Aug. 1. 

“We found that there are students who were maybe motivated by the purpose of their organization, so much so that they’re like, ‘Virtual or not, we’re going for it,’” Olson said.