After the pandemic negatively affected the social lives of many Oregon State University students throughout 2021, the return to in-person social events has helped extracurriculars and clubs to have better turn out.
Some students also hope that masking at in-person events will soon no longer be needed now that more of the population has been vaccinated.
Extracurricular activities since March 2020 have been both remote and in-person, but Zoom meetings, face masks and capacity limitations due to social distancing have led to low levels of event attendance and high levels of burn out, according to some students.
Nathan Clarke, a new Lambda Chi Alpha member and third-year accounting student at OSU, said the socializing events he would have been able to participate in were canceled due to the pandemic over the last year.
“I hope that social gathering norms and protocols allow for an increased level of involvement, as long as it is deemed safe by the university and state,” Clarke said. “It would be great to see people’s faces again in class, too.”
Jeremiah Wilson, a third-year biology student at OSU and OSU Pre-Medical Society member, said a lot more people attend Pre-Med Society meetings now that they are back in person.
“Last year it was all online so… nobody showed up to any meetings,” Wilson said. “It was maybe 10 people tops.”
Wilson said his fraternity Sigma Chi has been able to host a lot more social events and allow students to rush, or get recruited, in person this year. According to Wilson, organizing rush events online was frustrating.
In addition, Wilson said he likes that his fraternity’s philanthropy events are now in person. He said his fraternity was able to raise money for a charity by hosting an in-person car wash instead of doing Zoom meetings.
Wilson said he hopes students next year won’t have to wear masks again as he thinks they were a lot more social and able to meet new people before the pandemic.
Third-year OSU student and Dodgeball Club member Luke Tasker said the pandemic made him more appreciative of friendships and encouraged him to make more friends.
Tasker said it would be nice if people didn’t have to wear masks anymore, especially if they are involved in extracurriculars that require physical activity.
“Obviously it’s a bit hard to hear people sometimes, especially if they already have quiet voices and also mask themselves are a bit of a pain when doing exercise,” Tasker said. “Like obviously dodgeball is not super fun [with masks] but what can you do.”
Tasker said he knows the pandemic has impacted many people’s mental health but hopes it doesn’t continue to negatively affect students and their overall feelings of safety and happiness.
Amy Boeshans, a third-year business management student at OSU, is involved in OSU’s MECOP internship program and Supply Chain club. MECOP is a Pacific Northwest program that offers university students real-world experience through internships in the engineering industry.
Boeshans said she wants there to be more opportunities for vaccinated students to not wear their masks at the gym and at club meetings.
“It doesn’t necessarily need to be in class because that is kind of hard to manage, but [there could be] some opportunities where you could meet people without the mask in your way,” Boeshans said.