While transitions to “distance-learning” occur across CUNY and SUNY campuses, life at Brooklyn College itself seems to be coming to a standstill, especially for clubs and student organizations. With most meetings cancelled for the foreseeable future and the campus emptying to prevent spread of COVID-19, clubs have mostly ceased operation.
Originally, the college restricted student activities to events with 50 or fewer attendees, composed of BC students only, and that outside guest speakers should be limited to 3 at max. But a few days later, on Mar. 14, Tony Thomas, Chief Legal and Labor Relations Officer, sent out an email saying that, “effective immediately, non-essential, non-instructional gatherings or events should be cancelled, postponed, or moved to a virtual platform for the duration of the Spring 2020 semester.”
In the days following the directives from Governor Andrew Cuomo and CUNY, clubs, unaware of what exactly to do, have taken to their social pages to update members.
Mostly the clubs are communicating that their upcoming events have been cancelled. Speaking to the Vanguard, the Movimiento Estudiantil Dominicano (Dominican Student Movement), or MeDo, confirmed that, “Until further notice events are cancelled. We’re in the works of trying to find alternate solutions to this but with the situation getting worse we don’t know what can be done.”
Athletes for Altruism, a new club this semester, was due to hold their charity basketball tournament on Mar. 19, before the new regulations forced them to cancel. Co-President Moksha Mehra told the Vanguard, “We have suspended all of our events and meetings for the rest of this spring semester 2020, as it would not be in the best interest of our members for all of us to meet.” Mehra says the shuttering has hit them particularly hard because they “wanted to do as many events as possible to really get our name out there and collaborate with as many charities as possible.” In order to keep the event accessible to BC students and keep people safe, they decided against changing venues and will carry out the event next semester if all pans out. All the money they raised thus far has also been refunded.
While most clubs have outright cancelled their events, and others are still looking for an alternative, some are pivoting online to salvage their efforts.
The literary publication Stuck in the Library typically holds a launch event in the Student Center for the debut of a new issue. On Tuesday, Mar. 17, they were due to hold an event for the launch of their 40th issue, before having to cancel in the effort of “maintaining the health of the community over at CUNY,” according to Mary Halabani, President of Stuck in the Library.
In lieu of a typical event then, the magazine has decided to shift the operation digitally, opting to release their new poetry magazine online by the end of the week and prioritizing a physical publishing event next semester. Halabani says they’ve also opted to extend the submission deadline for their literary magazine “well into the middle of next semester,” giving students more time to submit their work and re-orient their lives post-pandemic.
Likewise, the hackathon we reported on that was supposed to take place in the West End Building Computer Lab at the end of March is also taking things online.
“Online hackathons are pretty common so we’re just going to follow the standard procedure,” said Shahzoda Davlatova of the hackathon planning committee. Though they’re still working out the finer details, the hackathon is still shooting for the same time and the same reach, even if the team can’t host it in the same place.
“I can’t really say how it’ll work yet, but we’re going to make helpful videos so people can understand what we’re doing and a virtual workshop for questions about setup,” said Davlatova. “Also all mentors and workshops are still happening,” she added, confirming that the schedule should remain unaffected.
The earliest upcoming events listed on Bulldog Connection now are at the start of May. This seems in line with the procedures being taken city- and nationwide to best “flatten the curve” of the spread of the virus. Assuming that the efforts to social distance and take classes online prevail, the hope is that these gatherings can take place. For now though, affairs on campus remain up in the air.