COVID circumstances bring about more change

How UMIN and ORP are adjusting to safety guidelines

Hailey Echan, Features Editor

In the wake of many changes amongst Seattle Pacific University’s campus, student leaders and administration continue to adapt to the circumstances and guidelines. One of many factors that SPU prides itself on is its variety of clubs and organizations tailored to include and welcome each student that steps foot on campus.

Starting off the school year in a way no one could have imagined, clubs and organizations on campus are figuring out how to best serve the students on campus while still following King County guidelines.

Junior global development major, Rebekah Huber, stepped into the role as Resident Hall Ministry Coordinator (RHMC) not fully knowing what was to come in the future months.

“Honestly, no one saw this coming, but I am just glad that we get to be creative and think of ways to do ministry that we never would’ve thought of without our present circumstances,” Huber said over a phone call.

University Ministries (UMIN), an organization on campus devoted to fostering spiritual well-being for students, as a whole is having to think outside the box in terms of how to care for and reach students on campus when guidelines make it difficult to meet in groups or be close to one another.

“As of right now, all chapels will be online instead of in person,” Huber said. “We are hoping to figure out a way to have SMC’s host smaller chapel viewing parties to still cultivate community during chapel.”

Even Group, a weekly worship service put on by UMIN, won’t be the same. According to Huber, Group wants to stick with a similar format that they used during Spring quarter of 2020 while adding some new and unique features. Those features have yet to be determined, but will be in place by the start of the school year.

The Student Ministry Coordinators (SMCs) in each dorm are planning to work together this year for more collaborative events via Zoom rather than individual dorm events.

“We thought it would be better to work as one team this year rather than four separate teams,” Huber said.

While University Ministries focuses on how to best care for their students, the Outdoor Recreational Program (ORP) is doing their best to also care for their students while finding ways to still provide the right resources.

ORP is a program on campus that, in normal circumstances, provides outdoor gear for students to rent while also organizing and leading excursions for students to explore the Pacific Northwest from up close.

Emma Friesen, senior and ORP Coordinator this year, has mixed feelings about the adjustments ORP is having to make this year.

“I am, of course, very disappointed that we won’t be able to get students in the outdoors as much as usual,” Friesen said over email. “However, I am also extremely excited about the extra time we will have to reevaluate ORP as an organization and how it can be even more centered around and promote justice on our campus.”

The gear that ORP rents out will still be available to students during limited hours, but as of now there will not be any group excursions put on by the organization.

Even with the COVID restrictions and ORP not looking the same as it has in previous years, the staff is taking full advantage of this time to revisit what resources they can provide to the campus.

“We are creating various educational resources we hope to share with the campus, so that students can become more informed on issues surrounding climate and environmental justice, accessibility of outdoor recreation, etc. and their intersections with race, gender, disability, etc.” Friesen said.

The hope is that students will still take advantage of the open outdoors.

“Even though we can’t lead big groups, we hope that the resources we have will encourage students to get outdoors on their own, in a way that is safe for them and others,” Friesen said.

Organizations like UMIN and ORP are committed to creating a safe, meaningful, and fun experience for students even in the midst of the COVID restrictions and guidelines.

“Overall, it is not business as usual, but there is still a lot to be done!” Friesen said.

Check out @spuorp and @spu_umin for more updates and resources throughout the school year.