No more masks, but still no life

March 2020 has gone down as one of the worst months in many of our lives. It was the month that a foreign disease came to our front door; it was the month that hundreds of millions of expectations and plans were canceled until further notice; it was the month that the whole world seemed to stand still.   

People everywhere seemed to be consumed by either fear or skepticism, and we were all forced to stay inside and start depending on our screens more than ever. A great deal of us, myself included, lost friends and family due to COVID-19, and with that came a massive loss of hope for the future.  

Last month, in March 2022, FMU’s administrative board announced a campus-wide end to mask mandates. With this came much excitement from organizations eager to finally celebrate the school and its students.   

If you take a look at the event calendar on the FMU website from March 2020, you can see where the campus events drop off. In February of the same year, there was an event happening nearly every day, yet this trend stopped halfway through March and the remainder of the semester was completely absent of events outside of finals in April.   

Hopefully, we will be reverting back to the way it was before March 2020 come the Fall 2022 semester.  

After two years of COVID-19-induced mania, we have acclimated ourselves to the culture, and more social gatherings have been cropping up. There have been events happening across campus all year thus far, but each one has faced its fair share of restrictions due to the virus.   

This current transitional period has presented us with a chance to do more for students on campus, and the opportunity should not be taken lightly. Students enjoy events on campus, and they want more – more mixers of different clubs and organizations, more out-reaching programs and more showcases of what’s going on, not just on campus but around all of Florence.  

As an incoming freshman for the Fall 2021 semester, I was a bit clueless as to what organizations to join. There were murmurs from those who knew of organizations, but there were few announcements of what was actually going on around campus. I would love to see a greater focus from these organizations, both academically and socially, on reaching out to students who are not involved and start getting them on board.  

I was never involved in school culture before college, but I truly made a stride this year and had I not done so, I do not believe I would have been aware of many of the organizations I am currently a part of.   

With the influence of the pandemic, many students are more compelled to stay inside rather than go out and find communities to join. I hope this new change will bring back the eagerness to get involved.  

Not only would this benefit the students by giving them more events with social and academic opportunities but it would also help out the organizations that have suffered due to COVID-19. Several social clubs on campus, such as the Totally Awesome and Outrageous Club for All Things Nerdy and Awesome (TAOCATNA) (of which I am a member), have struggled to maintain engagement and have relied solely on their core members. This is a chance for organizations like these to get out there and set up small events and create opportunities and connections for students that would have been impossible last year.   

Instead of being required to jump through the hoops of virus regulations, these groups can now simply reach out and encourage as many people as possible to come and participate.   

Speaking of needing to reaching out, the regulation lift has also caused entities such as The Patriot student newspaper and Snow Island Review to start printing again, adding to the potential involvement of students.  

Printed campus publications, increased group activities and a new mindset are all set to play a part in encouraging a new culture of flourishing student involvement and eagerness to be a part of FMU. As has been the case in years past, an environment of participation will increase the average student’s desire to be involved around campus.  

There are many ways to achieve this culture. For example, fewer regulations mean more events, which lead to more awareness for organizations on campus. Printed publications lead to more communication and potential interest in certain discussed events.   

Focusing on what the people want – on these mixers and outreach efforts – will undoubtedly be an incredible benefit to campus culture.  

Now, with the announcement of what organizations need to do comes another announcement for what students need to do. Nothing these groups do will be successful if students do not go out there and get involved. I know we are still shaking off quarantine culture, but now is the time to take advantage of what we have all been missing during the past two years.   

So, get out there, get involved and have a great time because college is a time to be fondly remembered and treasured and not just another footnote in that crazy little thing called COVID-19.