Diversity, religion, service and sports: Butler organizations and their plans to go virtual

Student organizations are planning on meeting virtually this semester due to Butler’s shelter-in-place order. Photo courtesy of Butler University.


After President Danko’s announcement of a two-week lockdown, club leaders have been working to maintain their organizations virtually.

From Block Party to meeting agendas, a variety of student-lead organizations are finding ways to hold events, whether that be via zoom or in-person.

Here’s how Butler organizations — including Diversity, Equity and Inclusion organizations, service programs, club sports and the Center for Faith and Vocation — are handling the transition to online. 

Club Sports 

Butler Club Sports are various competitive and recreational sports and/or physical activities that students can participate in. The main difference between the competitive and recreational teams is that the competitive teams compete against other universities on a regular basis. There are 20 competitive teams and four recreational teams.

Butler Run Club is a running community on campus. The organization hasn’t planned too many meetings yet, as they were told by the Club Sports council that they cannot meet in-person until further notice. The events they are thinking of doing, like weekly small group runs, can easily be socially distanced. However, they are waiting until they get further guidance before planning anything. Over the summer, the group stayed connected through a running app called Strava, which allowed them to see each other’s runs.

Anna Nelson, a junior human movement health science education major, is the president of Run Club. She discussed what she envisions the organization’s “new normal” to be.

“If we’re allowed to go back in person we have a couple of ideas for that, it’ll most likely be small groups of the same 3-5 people every time so you’re not intermixing as much,” Nelson said. “A lot of our events will have to be virtual so we’re looking at doing some Zoom strength calls where we can all do a core workout together or Indy Runners, it’s an adult run club and we’re trying to work with them to get an informational run clinic or virtual run challenge.” 

Currently, the Club Sports council is encouraging the clubs that fall under its jurisdiction to do online programming. Some clubs, such as CHAARG and esports, have already begun to virtually program. 

Bailey Finocchio, the assistant director of recreation & wellness, discussed in an email what Club Sports Council is doing regarding safety and programming this semester.

Unfortunately, at this time we are still evaluating the best path forward for our Club Sports,” Finocchio said in her email. “Our plan is to have club sports be able to be active through practices and events as long as social distancing, mask guidelines and a number of additional policies ensuring the health and safety of the BU Community can be followed. However, we are encouraging clubs to virtually engage with their members. Any virtual events our clubs host will be put on Engage and promoted through our Club Sports Instagram.” 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Organizations

 Diversity, equity and inclusion organizations can be defined as organizations that aim at providing intersectional, educational, celebratory and social programming regarding various underrepresented groups. These 11 organizations play a large role in advocating for DEI issues on campus as well as in the surrounding communities.

The South Asian Student Association is tentatively scheduling larger events, but for the most part is determining their long-term plan as the rest of the semester unfolds. Part of their plan is to have monthly meetings in large rooms on campus so they can socially distance their activities. They have had to cancel events, such as the Festival of Lights, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Navneet Kaur, a senior accounting and finance major, is the co-president of SASA. Kaur is still hoping that they can host their annual Holi event in April, as last year’s event was canceled because of COVID-19. 

“We’re really hoping by April that there’s some vaccine so that we can have Holi,” Kaur said. “Masks are probably going to still be a thing, but I think we can still somehow make it happen, especially since [Holi] happens outside on the mall.” 

Kaur thinks that if Butler switches to a fully remote semester, SASA would be unable to have any events for the rest of the year. 

The students that run the International Club were originally told that the club wouldn’t have many international students this year due to the pandemic; however, what was originally five potential students turned into 26. A majority of the organization’s events had been planned prior to the beginning of the semester, and while many of them can become virtual, there is one that has posed a problem for the organization. 

Gwendolyn Valles, a senior international studies and Spanish major, is the president of the International Club and is unsure how one of their annual events, Tip Night, can be put online due to the nature of its operation.

“We have an annual event called Tip Night where we teach the internationals how to tip in our culture,” Valles said. “A part of that event that makes it so unique and impactful is that we do a little role play and they actually get fed. Without that in-person element we’re having trouble finding how to use our funds to empower and enrich the experience of international students without getting to see them.” 

Katie Brownlee, a senior elementary education major, is the vice president of the International Club. She is also a diversity ambassador for international students, which gives her a specific perspective. 

“It’s also more difficult because often these students come to this country not knowing anyone and you’re here to support them,” Brownlee said. “At least I, as a leader of this club and as a diversity ambassador, am worried how this transition has been and how they are doing.”

Neither Valles nor Brownlee is sure how successful the virtual Block Party was for their organization. They prepared a variety of materials, but were very aware that the entire process was full of trial and error.

“While we are doing it virtually, we kinda lucked out because we’re in the second half while in the first round they’ll figure out how to fix things,” Valles said. “But it’s a negative in that who wants to Zoom in from 4 p.m to 7 p.m on a Saturday?”

Center for Faith and Vocation Organizations

Center for Faith and Vocation organizations are located in the CFV, or the Blue House; all the religious, secular and spiritual organizations are located there. There are 15 organizations located at the CFV.

The Butler Catholic Community originally had around six weeks of events — both regular meetings as well as large events — planned before the shelter-in-place order occurred. The organization pivoted from their original programming model and is now focused on outreach as well as their men’s and women’s bible study. 

The most significant change to their programming, however, was their Sunday Mass. For the first time in 2,000 years, the Catholic church has released a dispensation for mass, which essentially states that Catholic people have fulfilled the obligation to go to Sunday Mass even if they had not physically gone to mass that week.

Erin Morrisey, a senior secondary education and English major, is the co-president of the BCC and discussed their plans for mass, as well as how meaningful mass is to the faith community at Butler.

“We’re planning on eventually having on-campus mass again as it’s important to a lot of people in the BCC, but until we can figure out how to do that safely, we’re doing live streams,” Morrisey said.

Due to the size of the Catholic community at Butler, there are no indoor spaces on campus in which students can gather to practice their faith. The campus minister for the organization has an office in the Center for Faith and Vocation that is too small to host people, even for one-on-one conversations. 

The indoor option they have previously utilized was the South Campus Chapel, but according to new social distancing guidelines, the space can only hold 36 people in comparison to the 75 that attend the weekly mass. Morrisey laid out the organization’s plan regarding hosting mass given the current situation. 

“If we can, we’re going to do everything outside while the weather’s still nice, but after that, we’re kind of just praying that it gets better so we can practice our faith on campus,” Morrisey said. 

Service Organizations

There are 25 service organizations that operate out of Butler’s campus, usually with help from, or through, the Volunteer Center. Butler service organizations serve on and off-campus communities through various services such as tutoring, fundraising or mentoring for example.

The Butler University Student Foundation is taking a proactive approach in that they’ve decided to have everything virtual but gave their various committees and directors the decision to meet in person. Given that BUSF’s philanthropy is Butler, they’re still able to operate and do service-based projects in a different capacity. 

McKenzie Theis, a senior strategic communication and marketing major, is the president of BUSF and discussed some of the organization’s events as well as new initiatives they’re creating for this year to make up for lost service opportunities. A majority of Theis’ role in the organization this semester will be supporting the directors and their goals for this fall semester.

“One of our big fall semester events is homecoming — we help a lot with prepping and managing some of those programs and actually that’s all virtual so that’s a big shift for us,” Theis said. “We’ve been leaning a lot more on our alumni community and we created an alumni mentorship program. We’re leaning on more of the professional side of our organization at least for this semester.” 

Theis hopes that the virtual Block Party was a success and hopes that the organization’s call-out meeting will have full attendance, but is unsure how to reach first years and sophomores without meeting them in person.

College Mentors for Kids is an organization that focuses on giving children one-on-one mentorships. Since the organization’s model focuses on working with children, the group knows there will have to be changes made regarding how it operates. Last weekend, the national program held a virtual conference regarding protocol for the semester, and as of now, Butler’s chapter of College Mentors is unsure exactly what those changes will be, as the details remain unresolved. 

Sophie Magill, a junior communications science and disorders major, is the president of the organization. She knows the virtual aspect of the program is going to be an adjustment and hopes the same children that did the program last year continue to do it this year.

“I’m hoping through our Zoom sessions with the kiddos that if the same kids come back and their same mentor comes back, we can pair them up together again so they already have the bond they formed last year,” Magill said. “It’s definitely going to be an adjustment for everyone involved, but my hope is that by doing this virtually we can keep everyone safe and bring them onto campus next semester.” 


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