A rugby ball sits on the field at a University of Georgia women’s club rugby practice at the University of Georgia intramural fields in Athens, Georgia on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (Photo/Abigail Vanderpoel, abbey.vanderpoel@gmail.com)

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Georgia put regulations in place to ensure a safe learning environment for faculty and students for the fall semester. This included canceling and postponing intramural and club sports. 

The university announced the spring 2021 semester will increase in-person classes as well as keep hybrid models, but the university has said they would like to see more in-person or synchronous classes. UGA has yet to publish information on how clubs and intramural sports will operate next semester.

Many students are hoping to have the opportunity to get involved on campus during the upcoming semester, and clubs and intramural sports are a key element to achieve that. Senior sociology major Becky Chang has been involved with intramural volleyball over the last two years, and said she is disappointed the sport was unavailable because it helped her stay in shape and make new friends.

Due to the pandemic, Chang said she hasn’t been able to see her teammates and hopes to have that opportunity before she graduates.

Freshman elementary education major Ashley Goldberg said having these programs in-person is a “big part of what makes the college experience here at UGA,” and feels that as long as COVID-19 precautions are met, clubs and IM sports should be available. 

“Making friends, especially as a freshman, has been difficult,” Goldberg said. 

Without in-person clubs and IM sports, opportunities to make on-campus relationships have dwindled, and Goldberg feels that the safe return of in-person options in the spring would be beneficial. 

Chang and Goldberg both support the return of in-person activities with safety precautions enforced. They each wish for some return of normalcy and said they would be happy with outdoor events, less crowded activities and the use of personal protective equipment. 

UGA’s Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs Stan Jackson said in an email to The Red & Black that UGA is “looking forward to new ways to host opportunities for students that are accessible, prioritize safety and help them build community.”

Jackson said other in-person events will take place in the spring such as the University Union's movie screenings at Tate Student Center as well as the Engagement Leadership and Service’s LEAD workshops and the First Year Day of Service.

Whether UGA will hold some form of in-person recreational sports for next semester is still being reviewed.  Until that decision is made, the Recreational Sports Complex is open for student use.

The university is hopeful to “provide additional opportunities for student organizations to recruit new members, market upcoming events, and share their passion areas with their peers,” Jackson said. Information regarding IM sports will be announced on UGA’s Recreational Sports website.

“In-person clubs and intramural sports provide a sense of community, and without them I feel like college has been lacking for me as a first year,” said mechanical engineering major Alek Bruckman. Bruckman feels that events on Zoom are not equivalent to the experiences gained from in-person activities and hopes for things to change next semester.

UGA will ultimately continue to offer in-person, virtual and hybrid experiences throughout the spring semester as it tries to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines, Jackson said. Despite these new challenges and the uncertain future of the coronavirus pandemic, precautions are being taken and both the university and its students are doing what they can to create a memorable experience on campus.