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Student Organization Virtual Resources

Virtual Resources for Student Organizations

Resources for organization operations and strategies on virtually engaging members.

Student Organization leaders are encouraged to continue operating virtually as they are able at this time. This page is meant to provide you with guidance and resources for working towards your mission virtually. If you have questions that aren’t answered by this page or other communication, please email thesource@vt.edu.

Virtual Meetings and Communication

We are encouraging all student organizations to move all meetings to an online platform, but to continue working together and connecting virtually. Many organizations already use virtual communication tools for updates and between meeting communication, including GroupMe, Slack or Google Groups, and we encourage you to continue using these tools to conduct business and connect with your members.

Here are some tools you can consider using for online meetings:

  • Zoom
  • Google Hangouts
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How to Engage Members Virtually.pdf
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Virtual Exec Board Meetings for Fall 2020.pdf
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Org Covid Planning Questions.pdf

 

Organization Management

There are valuable tasks that you are still able to complete remotely in order to set your organization up for success when we resume normal campus operations in the future. 

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SECL - Guide to Virtual Elections.pdf
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Member and Graduation Student Recognition.pdf

We are aware that many organizations hold officer elections and transitions during the period between March – May. We encourage you to conduct elections as early as possible to ensure you have time to onboard new leaders and teach them about the responsibilities for their position. Elections should be conducted prior to completing the Mandatory Annual Registration process in order to send incoming leadership to training sessions.

If you would typically conduct your elections at a meeting, consider using the Elections function on GobblerConnect to have members vote virtually. Here’s a reference for how to set up and run an election through your GobblerConnect page. You can still have candidates share their platforms and ideas either via video chat speeches or in a shared document for members to review prior to voting.

We will be developing and sharing resources to help you run effective virtual elections. If you have specific ideas for resources or information you’re interested in, please email thesource@vt.edu.

The Source presents Learning to Action: Social Justice Skills for Student Organizations. The goal of Learning to Action is to help you move from a place of learning to a place of intentional social justice action. Over the rest of the summer, we'll be posting bi-weekly content for learning, structured reflection questions for student organization leaders, and an opportunity to pledge to take action based on that learning. We are not the experts, and we do not claim to speak in a way that is comprehensive - but solidarity is a journey, not a destination and we want to ensure you have somewhere to start the process.

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Learning to Action Pledge Card.png
  • Content“A Decade of Watching Black People Die” Code Switch Podcast
  • Reflection questionHow has your organization taken time to recognize the impact of violence on your members with marginalized identities? How have you been complicit or silent in passed instances of visible violence against Black people?
  • Action PromptWhat change can you make or action can you take to recognize and oppose the violence of systemic racism?
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Learning to Action Pledge Card.png
  • ContentThe Urgency of Intersectionality
  •     Additional Resource: When Feminism is White Supremacy in Heels
  • Reflection questionHow does your organization recognize, support and celebrate the multiple identities and unique experiences of your members?
  • Action Prompt: What change can you make or action can you take to be more actively inclusive of the experiences and identities of your members?
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Learning to Action Pledge Card.png
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Learning to Action Pledge Card.png

Information and resources for each topic will be added bi-weekly as they are released.

Information and resources for each topic will be added bi-weekly as they are released.

Student Organization Online Open Forum

SECL hosted an online open forum on August 6 for student organizations that answered questions about guidance for student organization operations and also included tips for going virtual, information about recruiting new members this semester, and strategies for building community with safety in mind. Listen to the recording of the forum here. See below for a written transcript of pre-submitted questions.

You are allowed to meet in-person, and we are counting on you to make informed decisions about when meeting in-person is A) necessary and B) possible within guidance for promoting safety. We have been emphasizing virtual meetings and programs throughout the spring and summer because this is the only way to truly eliminate risks. 

However, we understand your desire to meet in person and encourage you to always start with your goal for the meeting or event, and ask yourself “Can we achieve this goal virtually?” If the answer is yes, then it’s helpful to use those tools in those instances, so you can focus your planning on events that truly need to occur in person.

For example, regular general body meetings and information sessions where the main activity will be information sharing and discussion can be translated easily to online formats, especially when you leverage break out rooms and collaborative technology tools. You might want to focus on planning a new member picnic after recruitment season that you could host in an outdoor space like the Duck Pond, with physical distancing and face coverings required, where people bring their own snacks.

You can refer to this infographic to help you think through different activities and their comparative risk. We encourage you to use these same approaches to considering risks for organization activities and for decisions about your own social behaviors. Remember, you have control over your own behavior/decisions and likely have influence to help your friends be cautious while still connecting as well. 

Yes, organizations will have the ability to request space reservations through Event Services in the student centers, like Squires, and campus common spaces, like the residential quads and the Drillfield. Event Services will also be handling reservations for certain classrooms (previously reserved through Hokie Spa) that will be available for org reservations for Fall 2020. The spaces and hours are as follows: Monday through Friday 5-10 pm for Pamplin, McBryde, and New Classroom Building; S+S for McBryde and NCB from 7a-10p. Other classrooms will not be available for reservations. Classrooms will remain unavailable for reservation until after the first two weeks of school. 

Certain outdoor spaces, like the Lower Rec Fields, and recreation spaces in McCommas are reserved through Recreational Sports, who will be accepting reservation requests during times they are available. These spaces do have a fee associated with use, and require insurance for most activities.

All spaces throughout campus have adjusted capacities based on space for 6-feet of physical distancing for events and meetings, which can be obtained through the scheduling office that reserves the space. Your event must be at or below the venue’s new listed capacity number, or below the current gathering size limit from the governor, whichever is lower.

All space reservations will have to complete a COVID-19 Event Request Form and will have to follow the event guidelines set forth by the institution and outlined by scheduling offices, including but not limited to, maintaining physical distancing, tracking attendance, required face coverings, and additional sanitation procedures. Additional time for the review and approval of event requests forms will be required for all events, so if you plan to reserve space, we recommend planning to do so far out as possible. 

The event guidelines mentioned above include: 

  • Limiting events to pre-registered participants, meaning you can’t have open events

  • Tracking attendance at the event

  • Limiting the size of the event to the pre-determined occupancy limits of the space as well as factoring in additional space if physical activity is part of your event 

  • Maintaining physical distancing by all attendees including hosts and organizers

  • Posting signage discourage attendance by those with a fever and/or COVID-19 symptoms, or know exposure to COVID-19 within the last 14 days

  • Promoting public health requirements like face coverings and hygiene like handwashing and covering coughs

A full outline of all the event guidelines is available through the scheduling office. Event Services has sent the guidelines directly to Authorized Contacts listed on your GobblerConnect roster, and the guidelines are available on their website. 

Yes, there will be changes to funding for student organizations. They will be rolled out tomorrow. There will be funding available, but there will be restrictions that align with VT Policy and government guidance as it relates to COVID-19. SBB has created a Policy Addendum to help navigate necessary changes. Travel funding (competitions and competitions) will be limited to registration for online programs. We will also be making funds available for Live Streaming events and PPE for student organizations hosting events. Additionally, all of the paperwork for reimbursements and payments and meetings regarding SBB will be held virtually this fall. Our SBB website holds all updated information.

Communication is key to ensuring your members know how to stay involved in your community. We shared a resource in yesterday’s update email that included a sample agenda for your executive board planning meetings in the next few weeks. The more you can establish ahead of time, including how often you plan to meet and on what platform, what event you want to try to do in-person, and what changes you’ll be making to the organization, the more you can communicate up-front to your members.

Emphasizing the mission of your organization is always important, but this can be a particularly helpful starting place to remind your members why they joined. You should be able to clearly articulate how you will still be giving them opportunities to work towards that mission. For example, if your mission is to do service work abroad there are still ways to offer people an opportunity to fundraise or learn more about the community your serve.

If you ghost your members, they will ghost you right back. We encourage you to maintain a regular meeting cadence so your members have something to look forward to and can count on opportunities to connect with each other.

You may want to consider adjusting expectations and requirements for your members, such as service hours or meeting attendance, to show your willingness to be flexible and supportive. It’s important to be aware that everyone is navigating their unique circumstances during the pandemic – some might be caring for siblings at home, some may be struggling to adjust to online classes, and still some may just be eager to show up to organization meetings as often as possible. You should create space that affirms people’s individual experience and support them in making choices that prioritize their safety and well-being, even if that includes missing some meetings or having to take a break from the club.  

We heard from lots of organizations that are concerned about recruiting enough new members. Many new and returning students will be adjusting to a unique semester and your organizations have a great opportunity to offer these students the chance to connect with others and build community, while promoting learning and growing outside of the classroom. 

We are still promoting Gobblerfest widely, which is being offered as a virtual fair on GobblerConnect, as the hallmark opportunity for students to learn about organizations to join. GobblerConnect is also heavily shared and utilized to help students find out about what organizations exist, to learn information about joining those groups, and to contact people in them. This is why it is so important that your GobblerConnect profiles are up to date, just as any other year but especially this year. 

We encourage you to schedule and promote virtual information sessions to follow up after the virtual Gobblerfest event, just as you would in a typical fall. You may even want to consider collaborating with other organizations with similar missions to offer an opportunity for people to mingle with multiple groups at a time and expands your promotional reach. Also, your virtual presence on social media is an important tool to leverage, so make sure you’re sharing helpful information about what your organization is planning to do this semester and how to get involved on your platforms. 

Student Engagement and Campus Life is working on plans to facilitate some smaller in-person organization recruitment events during September, and we plan to share more details about these opportunities next week! 

As we’ve shared Gobblerfest will be a virtual experience on GobblerConnect. We received a preview video that you can watch to see how the event will look when participants log in. Here’s a screenshot of what it will look like.

To take full advantage of this opportunity, organizations that participate should plan to create a concurrent Zoom or Google Hangout meeting that will be linked on the virtual fair page. This is your chance to meet with prospective members. You might want to plan to have a short presentation that you run on loop, or you can utilize breakout rooms to offer more personal conversations. You can use the chat function to collect contact information, or you can easily direct them to your GobblerConnect profile to submit an interest form you’ve created or RSVP to an upcoming information session that’s listed as an event.

We plan to work on some tips and resources for you to use when preparing to participate in the virtual fair, or you can always reach out to The Source to talk with an Engagement Ambassador about options that could work for your organization.

We are well aware of “Zoom burnout” as a possible symptom of our current situation, but we are also aware that socializing virtually is the lowest risk way to connect with one another. Our department is leaning into similar expectations as you – we’re doing all of our meetings on Zoom, and collaborating using digital tools, instead of meeting in our offices and conference rooms. It’s an adjustment, but we’ve found that you also have to commit to finding creative solutions if you want to keep it useful and interesting.

 

We received questions about platforms to use, and we can offer that Virginia Tech provides all students access to Zoom and Google Hangout through their accounts. If you choose to use other platforms, like Discord or Twitch for example, you’ll need to provide clear instructions to members about how to sign up if you want them to use these tools.

 

If you’re doing meetings on Zoom or Google, it’s good to have an agenda of discussion topics and activities just like you would for an in-person meeting. Zoom offers breakout rooms if you want to facilitate smaller conversations, like committee meetings or partner activities. Google offers Jamboard for collaborative visual creation if you want to do some brainstorming together. If you have other tools and ideas about fun virtual tools, please post them in the chat and we’ll add them to our list!

 

You don’t have to do a video call to connect virtually or remotely. For example, you might invite people to work on a collaborative themed playlist on Spotify together or invite people to co-read an article or book and then post in a chat about their thoughts and reactions. This can offer people a welcomed break from being on camera while still connecting. Or considering doing an Instagram live where a member gives a talk about tips for professional development, or walks through a recipe. This is a passive opportunity for your members and can help you reach a wider audience.

Given that health information is protected by HIPPA, requiring people to share exposure or positive testing is not recommended. We encourage having open, clear conversations with your members about risky behaviors, expectations on how the organization will convene and govern itself, and appropriate responses and reporting if someone does test positive. On-campus events, meetings, and gatherings will require attendance tracking for contact tracking purposes. If your organization gathers off-campus, we encourage full attendance records for the gatherings, as well.  If someone does test positive, the Virginia Department of Health will follow up with appropriate contact tracing procedures which include the individual or contact tracer getting in touch with those they were in contact with.

All in-person events and activities should have invited attendees pre-register, including community members if applicable. We do encourage you to consider the impact of interactions between students and community members, and the guidance you’ve received about limiting visitors when possible – this might mean that virtual options can serve as a tool for keeping non-campus community members informed, involved, and safe.

To promote the safety and health of your membership, we strong recommend that you continue to follow university guidance, current CDC guidance, and Virginia reopening guidance when meeting off-campus, in addition to or in line with the expectations of the venue you'd be using for things like physical distancing and face coverings. There are also plans for the town of Blacksburg and other local communities to strictly enforce limitations on gathering size and other violations of public health guidance.

 

If you’re considering moving an activity off campus, we encourage you to consider if that activity will still be accessible to your members in terms of transportation. Also, for events receiving Student Budget Board funding, events still need to follow all event guidelines set forth for on-campus events. 

As communicated by the University, face coverings are required on-campus all the time besides when you are eating, sleeping, or alone in a closed space. This means they should be worn during class, when walking on campus close to others, and when spending time outside with others when physical distance cannot be maintained. As an event host for your meetings and activities, it is expected that you ensure everyone in attendance follows this guidance. You can do so by communicating this expectation upfront to people who pre-register, providing masks for those who did not bring them, and asking people to leave if they are not willing to comply.

Accessing Digital Support and Resources from The Source 

The Source will be open for virtual drop-ins and in-person appointments starting January 19. Hours will be Monday-Thursday from 4-7pm. You can also always reach out to us by email at thesource@vt.edu.