Clubs Face Lower Funding and Attendance in Fall 2020

While John Brown University has managed to remain on campus throughout almost the entire semester, it wasn’t without some sacrifice.

Being on campus in-person is something that JBU has championed as a feat of adaptation by students and faculty. President Chip Pollard said at a scholarship event that “only 30% of schools in the nation have succeeded at doing what JBU has done.”

However, it hasn’t been easy. Rules have been strict, and many campus organizations have had to adapt to new guidelines, decreased funding and lower attendance at meetings and events.

One of the largest hurdles that clubs have had to deal with is decreased funding. While funding for clubs usually fluctuates every semester, most organizations are reporting funding decreases this fall. Nate Brown, junior finance major and president of the Student Government Association, said, “I think COVID certainly would have a large part in why some funding may be lower this year.” This lower funding has provided a difficult barrier for some of the smaller organizations on campus, as key events have been cancelled or changed dramatically.

Campus organizations also face strict guidelines for meetings and events. While the usual rules, such as wearing masks and remaining six feet apart still apply, there are some added rules that event planners and student leaders have to consider when planning events. These newer rules, which were delivered to student leaders by Maritta Smith, assistant director of university events, and Lauren Hinrichs, university events assistant, a few weeks before classes began, have created additional challenges.

One of the rules states that, “Events that have over 50 people indoors or over 100 outdoors will need to get special permission to take place.” This rule, among many others, has created an extra step for planners to go through and has often caused a decrease in event attendance due to the increased need for reservations beforehand. It has also caused less events to be available as the temperature drops.

Major events this semester have been greatly impacted by COVID-19. World Awareness Week, which usually includes a flag ceremony during chapel and an international food fest, has been downsized to themed food in the cafeteria and hanging flags around residence halls. Other notable events that happen throughout the fall, such as the Toilet Paper Game and the fall theatre production, have also been cancelled or adapted.

The combination of COVID-19 safety guidelines and the general stress of the semester have changed the landscape of campus clubs to begin with. Some clubs have stopped having events, and some have stopped meeting entirely. The JBU Nature Society, which had just been restarted last spring, has yet to have a meeting, and the Leader Scholars Institute, which has been a staple in the JBU community, is experiencing its final semester. Many other groups, such as a few of JBU’s CAUSE Ministries, have found themselves in limbo, but they have remained determined to continue to serve the Siloam Springs community.

Photo: Catherine Nolte, The Threefold Advocate