ATTENTION: For current COVID guidelines, please visit UA’s Health Info website. Questions? Contact uainvolvement@ua.edu.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the student organization experience will look very different this year, with student organization activity shifting to virtual, smaller, or hybrid formats for student events. We are confident that our organizations will use this as an opportunity to think creatively and continue to be the lifeblood of The Capstone. The Office of Student Involvement looks to support your efforts through pooling resources, offering consultation and support, and being a bridge to campus departments and services who wish to partner and support student organization missions and goals during this time.

Considerations

As we move forward into the semester, Student organizations should think critically about the months ahead and seek to evaluate their missions and goals in light of COVID-19 considerations. They should be prepared to ask and reflect:

  • Can this activity be accomplished in a safe and effective manner?
  • Can the goals of the activity be accomplished via a virtual delivery?
  • Does this event/meeting/program need to happen in person?
  • What are the goals of the activity and how can we retain those, while prioritizing safety?
  • Do we have provisions for someone who is unable or cannot attend in person?

UA Student Organization policies pertaining to COVID-19 were created with the health and safety of our community as a primary focus. Student organization officers should lead implementation within their respective organizations and foster compliance with these requirements. As you review the resources provided in this document, please know that our entire campus community, including faculty, staff, administrators, and fellow students, bear the responsibility to ensure that we do our best to practice personal protective behaviors and to encourage student organization activities to mirror the same action.

In this document, we will share a few additional resources and information for use in the upcoming year. These are designed to help. If, however, there is any conflict between what is shared in these resources and the substance of any University policy or plan, the language of the policy or plan controls.

Frequently Asked Questions

All UA faculty, staff, and students must participate in an online educational module on COVID-19. Student organizations should promote the use of personal protective behaviors described in that training, as well as being familiar with recognizing COVID-19 symptoms in themselves and others, and in using good judgement regarding social distancing.

Additionally, organizations should consider adopting a set of organization protective behaviors that support continued compliance with behaviors designed to help stop the spread of COVID. To the extent they are available, the division of Financial and Operations can provide PPE resources to student organizations for their events and programs. Allocation will occur as a part of the event registration and training process, and PPE can be requested by contacting Amelia Brock (aebrock@ua.edu) in the Office of Student Involvement. Organizations should also consider purchasing their own PPE and cleaning materials, as PPE through the University may be limited.

For details regarding how personal protective behaviors connect with your events/programs, please see the Social Event Guidelines, which speaks to all events hosted by student organizations.

Many tools exist to assist your student organization with virtual meetings and other functions when possible. Holding hybrid meetings, to be inclusive of students who may not feel comfortable attending in person and to better accomplish social distancing capacities, is also strongly recommended. Any meeting that has required attendance for members must have a virtual component, if it is not entirely virtual.

The following platforms are recommended for student organization use:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Meet
  • Slack
  • GroupMe
  • Hopin* (Exclusive New tool for Online Event Engagement available to student orgs)

In addition to the above-mentioned resources, UA has a number of tools and software that is downloadable to you as a student. Make sure your organization is utilizing the best possible resource to make you effective. Need more info? Visit OIT’s “Software and Technology Available to You” link, as well as the OIT’s comprehensive Software Catalog.

If you decide to conduct an in-person meeting, remember to register it properly and understand and know the guidelines for that specific space. You must comply with any policy restrictions on attendee limits and implement appropriate prevention and mitigation efforts consistent with University policy. This includes, but is not limited to, limiting contact between members as much as possible, including (but not limited to) establishing a digital attendance and sign-in mechanism, requiring masks, eliminating community food items, not conducting ice breakers that involve close contact or shared supplies for activities/crafts, reducing athletic competitions or activities where social distancing cannot occur.

If you are having food at your meeting, refer to the Social Event Guidelines, which governs all types of events, and provides additional steps required for registration and approval.

The Social Event Guidelines have been revised and includes an Addendum that addresses current details related to hosting on-campus, off-campus or virtual events, including health and safety measures related to the prevention of COVID-19.

The Addendum does not replace the main Social Event Guidelines (SEG) but supplements it and supersedes the SEG where conflicts arise. Items addressed include, but are not limited to:

  • Attendance Tracking
  • Food at Events
  • Event capacities and Event Length
  • Sanitation and Cleaning Requirements at Event
  • Social Distancing
  • Event Registration Criterion
  • Attendance Caps

Please review the Social Event Guidelines (SEG), for details related to registration and approval of events for the policy. The Office of Student Involvement can assist you with additional inquiries related to this policy and are available for consult and assist student organizations with successful development of proper event procedures.

The Social Event Guidelines (SEG) and the applicable SEG Addendum can be found on the Policies and Procedures page.

Student organizations should limit the exchange and distribution of materials at events, meetings, or gatherings. Consider providing digital handouts for distribution of meeting minutes, notes, or information sharing. Also, minimize distribution of items, unless pre-packaged or handled by a minimal number of individuals. Avoid sharing pens, laptops, etc. Giveaways should be provided on a limited capacity following guidance provided by the CDC and other COVID-19 resource tools.

It is encouraged, if tabling is necessary or mission-critical to your organization’s goals, that it is conducted outside. Student Organization tabling requires registration via mySOURCE.Here are some guidelines:

  • When tabling, limit the number of organization members that are present. It’s recommended that no more than 1-2 club members staff a table at one time (at far ends of a 6ft table is advised).
  • Limit contact points as much as possible between table visitors (e.g., giveaways, fliers, handouts, using a shared computer, paper signup, pens, etc. are strongly discouraged). Items should not be taken back after they are given to an individual visiting your table.
  • Use QR codes, survey tools, google, or other tools for individuals to use their own devices to sign up to receive more information.
  • Face coverings or masks should be utilized for anyone staffing or visiting table.
  • Provide hand sanitizer or encourage students staffing the space to provide their own PPE and to practice personal protective behaviors while at the events
  • Tables and items at the table should be consistently sanitized. Plexiglass shields are recommended and available for check-out via The Trunk Resource Center for Student Organizations.

Tabling will NOT occur inside Ferguson Student Center in order to comply with social distancing in high traffic areas. Restrictions may also apply in academic buildings, residence hall, University Recreation facilities, and other campus buildings. Student organizations should inquire with the appropriate approving office or building manager, prior to set-up or submitting via mySOURCE.

Currently, all university-sponsored non-essential travel for all students, faculty, and staff is suspended, both international and domestic. A waiver process currently exists to grant limited exceptions, where determined. Regardless of the phase, all university related travel shall adhere to existing policy requiring notice or approval. No University of Alabama funds may be used to pay for any form of travel until further notice.

Conferences, service trips, competitions, out-of-town parties, or other organized activities outside of the State of Alabama should not be coordinated by student organization and as individual students are strongly discouraged and may require students to self-isolate for a period of time upon return to campus. In-State travel would be reviewed on a case by case basis. Student organizations should also consult with their national governing body, if applicable, regarding any specific restrictions or guidelines related to travel.

Domestic travel questions can be referred to Wade Bond, Director of Risk Management at wbond@ua.edu. International travel questions related to your student organization can be directed to Dr. Rosalind Moore-Miller, Executive Director of Student Engagement (rlmoore@ua.edu). Individual student international travel questions should be directed to Chad Berry, Associate Director for Education Abroad (chad.berry@ua.edu).

To minimize the risk of COVID-19 being brought to campus, visitor access must be limited. Visitors should come to campus only by invitation or for specific events. All official visitors should be tracked by the organization. Read more about attendance collection and symptom screening on the COVID-19 and Events FAQ page. Student Organizations would be required to register the visitor’s attendance at an event via the Event Registration process and all other guidelines associated with event registration and approval would have to be followed. Organization members should be communicated to regarding the expectations related to all campus visitors.

Student organizations should use caution in entering into contracts and take into consideration the various aspects of their activities and the space. Due to the fluid nature of dealing with COVID, events may be modified or canceled for health and safety reasons. It is important that as an organization or individual, you go into contract processes and consider all variables, building as much flexibility as possible into any agreement you elect to enter.

As a student organization, it is important to support the role you play in mirroring best practices as an organization. Continue to maintain or begin an online social media presence as an organization.

A key tip for successful social media in our current times is to model current best practices. Photos shared on social media should feature the reality of what your organization is currently doing, perhaps even featuring social distancing and masks. If you share an old photo, it is recommended that you tag it as such or reference it in the caption.

Join the fall #tidetogether campaign and support this collective priority. Tide Together is a call to inspire members of our UA community, to continue to stick together and practice prevention techniques (e.g., wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.) for the health and well-being of the entire campus community in these challenging and unprecedented times. We hope you will continue to build great and consistent connection within your organization.

Creative Consults are still available for your marketing and design needs, so please let us know how The SOURCE can assist.

Community Service conducted and organized by student organizations should be registered and approved via the mySOURCE event registration process.Plans will be reviewed by members of the event team, along with consultation from the Center for Service and Leadership. When such an event is approved, best practices provided by the Alabama Postsecondary Alliance for Community Engagement will be a basis for successful and appropriate service activities hosted by Student Organizations.

At this current time, it is recommended that organizations engage in low contact or no contact service. These service opportunities are defined as:

  • Low Contact Service: This is service in which there is only limited interaction between participants and the employees of the community partner. There is no direct face to face contact with clients.  This type of service can include, but is not limited to:
    • Preparing meal boxes for distribution at food bank
    • Voter registration
    • Beautification efforts outside of local schools or community centers
    • Working in local community gardens
    • Roadway and river cleanups
    • Work with local animal rescue
  • No Contact Service: This is a service in which there is no face to face interaction between participants and other human clients or community partners. All instructions and interactions will occur virtually. This type of service can include but is not limited to:
    • All virtual service opportunities
    • Awareness Campaigns
    • Advocacy Campaigns
    • Raising Money (philanthropic no-contact campaigns)

Student organizations should continue to remain aware of accessibility needs related to their virtual events or in-person events/programs. Event hosts should ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in the event. For assistance with accessibility needs or to report issues with accessibility, please speak to members of the Office of Student Involvement team. Another helpful campus resource is the Office of Disability Services, located in Houser Hall.

University Programs and the Office of Student Involvement have collaborated to create the Event Resource Request process. The Event Resource Request process was established to assist registered student organization and university departments in supporting events that help building community and inclusivity on campus, as well as in the general Tuscaloosa area, while also fostering growing partnership and communication between campus stakeholder.

This is a great way to find collaborators for an idea or program, advertising, financial, or logistical support to carry it off. Consider learning more about the process and submitting a request to the committee for review.

Student organization fundraising, bake sales, or other revenue generating activities should be registered via mySOURCE for approval. The location and method in which these activities take place should consider the following:

  • Any food used in these events cannot be homemade.
  • If hosted as an event, the activity should follow any guidelines set forth within the Social Event Guidelines Addendum.
  • If hosted as tabling, the activity should follow the guidelines set forth in this document regarding successful tabling options and considerations.
  • It is strongly encouraged that student organizations seek out virtual and contact free fundraising and revenue generation methods.
  • Student organizations should research fundraising methods and crowd-sourced funding tools for legitimacy and should work with organization leadership and have accountability in handling funds that come in on behalf of philanthropic causes or organizations.
  • Food cannot be homemade for bake sales; Organizations should refer Food guidelines found in the SEG Addendum for more details.

Organizations who have questions or wish to inquire about general fundraising guidelines should talk to representatives in The Office of Student Involvement and also refer to the Student Organization Manual.

Organizations are faced with shifting their engagement to new methods and also perhaps developing new priorities and goals. Here are a few guidelines to encourage morale and engagement with your members:

  • Continue to build community with your organization members with a hybrid of in-person and online group activities, where possible.
  • Develop themes, etc. to encourage engagement and ways to get to know one another.
  • Continue to cultivate communication channels within the organization through tools such as slack, GroupMe, etc.
  • Develop a schedule of virtual meetings/events and try to keep to that schedule so as to allow for maximum participation.
  • Recognize your members and their accomplishments virtually (spotlights, virtual awards, meeting shout outs, virtual fun nights, etc.)

Student Involvement encourages organizations to utilize tools available to them to conduct successful programming. We will be here to connect them with departments and available resources.

Sport Clubs who are affiliated with the University Recreation Center should consult with UREC leadership regarding additional guidelines and recommendations, as it pertains to COVID-19 response. Their office will work with sports clubs to devise plans, as well as address recruitment, service, and fundraising coordinated by those groups. For more information, contract Laura Thomas, Assistant Director, Sport Programs at lwthomas1@ua.edu or 205-348-2607.

If your organization is overseen by a national organization or governing body outside of UA (e.g. fraternities and sororities; Honor Societies; Academic or Religious Affiliated Groups) that has additional and/or more specific guidelines/rules, follow those guidelines as well.

If your organization is sponsored by, affiliated with, or supported by UA department, communicate with them regularly and follow any additional guidelines they have in place.

The research on the spread of COVID-19 through particles and aerosols created while singing, shouting, exercising, dancing, and playing instruments is not fully understood. When possible, consider holding these events virtually or in a well-ventilated, outdoor spaces. For these types of in-person activities, additional guidelines should be followed, and social distancing plans executed. The Office of Student Involvement will continue to review best practices and expert guidance and will consult with groups via the mySOURCE event registration process.When engaging in activities with physical exertion, dancing, increased vocal projection, shouting, and acting, it is recommended that:

  • Distance between individuals should be increased to 12 feet.
  • Masks should continue to be worn in accordance with university guidelines.
  • It is recommended that in dance, performers should refrain from partner moves and that prop sharing or touching surfaces that all dancers are on (floor, stage) should be discouraged.
  • These activities should be registered via the mySOURCE process
  • The groups should consider room capacity and the ability to comply with physical distancing and face covering requirements while engaging in the activity.
  • If audiences are a part of shows, these parameters should be addressed as well and/or audience performances suspended or moved to virtual formats.

Rehearsals, lessons, etc. sponsored by academic departments should follow departmental guidelines. We will continue to seek more information about this specific area to determine if appropriate accommodations are possible in the future.

Marketing and advertising of events should follow guidelines found in the Student Organization Handbook. Student organizations should confer with policies and procedures governing specific spaces and follow them accordingly (i.e.- academic spaces, residence halls, outdoors, etc.). Student organizations are encouraged to continue to submit digital requests for advertising through Housing and Residential Communities, The Ferguson Student Center through the Big Screen Promos and Rogue Media outlets, and the campus-wide media system.

Maintaining a healthy campus environment is the responsibility of all members of our UA community. In addition to individual responsibility, members of the community should foster accountability in the people around them and should address instances of non-compliance directly, if they are comfortable and it is safe to do so.As a reminder, all recognized student organizations are required to comply and adhere to all university and system plans, policies, procedures, and regulations, along with state and local laws and orders. Failure to do so, will result in action from the Office of Student Conduct.

Student organization advisors can assist our groups with helping stop the spread of COVID-19 and in supporting effective engagement this academic year through the following practices:

  • Student organization advisors should encourage the group and members to follow the guidance of the University, as well as local, state, and CDC recommendations regarding prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
  • Registered Student Organizations should follow the guidelines of the Departments that support them, as well as guidelines from The SOURCE and the Office of Student Involvement
  • Encourage student members to be mindful of social distancing, to engage in personal protective behavior, as well as organizational protective behavior, and to avoid high risk activities and environments.
  • Make your level of comfort with face to face meetings with the group clear. If you prefer to meet with them through virtual means that should be an option. Please continue to meet regularly with organization leadership.
  • Help students understand the importance of wearing a face covering and masks and in physically distancing themselves.
  • Help students understand the importance of modifying their events and programs to virtual options, should they have members or participants who cannot or chose not to attend in-person
  • Help students make thoughtful decisions about how to ask members or guests to comply with personal protective behaviors
  • Help student organizations think of ways to continue to support movement towards their organization’s mission or semester goals
  • Engage in resources provided by The Office of Student involvement, specifically for advisors, which are aimed at providing support to you during this journey.

Subject to Change

The guidelines and resources found in this page are a result of local, national, and global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They will continue to be evaluated and reviewed as this incident evolves. Recommendations are subject to change and subject to modified timeline of enforcement.

More Information

For more information and resources, visit http://thesource.ua.edu, or contact The Office of Student Involvement at uainvolvement@ua.edu or 205-348-6114.