COVID-19 and Student Organizations

As you know, Minnesota State University, Mankato has suspended all classes until March 30, 2020 and to move coursework online for the remainder of the semester. In addition, all events over 50 attendees has been cancelled until at least May 1, 2020, and all out-of-state travel has been cancelled indefinitely. These measures have been implemented based on the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of practicing social distancing, a method of containing disease spread by limiting exposure opportunities.

We realize that if your organization had travel or large events planned that this is incredibly disappointing, and you may be wondering how to move forward. Even if you didn’t have any large events or travel plans, you may still be wondering what happens next—how will you handle officer elections? What about officer transitions?

Since the announcement , we’ve been working hard to compile helpful information and resources to assist as we move into the coming weeks. Below you can find more information on next-steps for managing your organization during this time. We will continue to update this website as more information becomes available, and as we develop more resources for virtual Student Organization Management!

After March 30, RSO meetings have not been cancelled; however, if you anticipate that your organization will not be meeting in-person during this time (see the next point for information about how to meet digitally), we encourage you to contact scheduling to cancel any remaining room reservations.

All events with anticipated attendance of over 50 have also been cancelled through May 1, 2020. If you had an event that was cancelled, University Scheduling will reach out to you directly to confirm the cancellation.

Any questions about room reservations and event scheduling should be directed to University Scheduling at 507-389-2223 or university.scheduling@mnsu.edu 

University Scheduling Website

In order to support social distancing, the CDC highly discourages all group activities that bring people together in close physical space both on-campus and off-campus during the coming weeks. As mentioned earlier, we support the recommendation of the CDC as it is meant to ensure the containment of the virus; however, we want to emphasize that it is important to stay connected with your peers and maintain a strong sense of community, even though you may not be seeing each other in person!

All MSU, Mankato students have access to Zoom, a free web-based video conferencing tool with a local, desktop client and a mobile app that allows users to meet online, with or without video for up to 500 attendees. This is a great way to continue RSO meetings remotely, as well as to stay connected with peers beyond online classes.

We strongly encourage your organization to use Zoom as frequently as possible to stay connected and keep each other up-to-date about plan moving forward. More information about how to use Zoom can be found here.

If you were in the process of planning an event or activity that involved outside vendors or contracted services, please contact these organizations to discuss cancelling or rescheduling. 

If the company identifies that services cannot be rescheduled and there are cancellation fees, you will need to ask the company to identify and send documented cancellation costs/fees. If you were planning to pay for these services with money from a 901 account, any reimbursements must demonstrate proof that the services were cancelled, what the costs were to cancel, and that those costs have been paid.

The Student Activities Office is happy to help advise you in this process. Please contact us using the RSO COVID-19 Questions Form for assistance!

As Chancellor Malhotra stated, all out-of-state travel has been suspended effective March 16, 2020. If your organization had travel plans, please start taking steps to cancel travel arrangements. If you reserved a vehicle through vehicle services, those reservations will be cancelled.

If the travel reservations are non-refundable and you were planning to use funds from a 901 account to cover the costs, any reimbursements must also demonstrate proof that the travel arrangements were cancelled and that the money was non-refundable, and that the cost has been paid. Most airlines are allowing for flight changes and cancellations, and many conferences are refunding registration fees; hotel reservations should not be pre-paid (per Minnstate policy), so those should be able to be cancelled without charge.

For in-state travel or other events, please work with your advisors to carefully assess the conditions of destination communities to carefully consider the potential risks to yourself, participants, fellow students, families, and friends.  Event hosts and coordinators should also be engaged in this assessment. If you choose to travel, ensure you have essential items you might need if you are not able to return immediately, such as medications, laptops, or other items needed to continue your studies.  

As we reach the end of the semester, many RSOs may be preparing to elect new officers and for old officers to step down. While you may not be able to conduct in-person elections, you can still use Engage’s form tool to conduct elections! This also allows you to restrict who submits the form to members of the organization (as long as they are listed on the roster—now is a great time to go in and update those rosters, folks!) Here’s some more information about how you can create a form in Engage.

If you have already elected new officers and need to transition, Zoom can be a great way to set up some time to answer questions and talk through everything. Before you transition, we recommend checking out the RSO Officer Transition Guide to make sure you are prepared with all of the information and resources to ensure that new officers are prepared to thrive in their new roles!

You’re welcome to call, email, submit questions via Engage, set up a virtual meeting via Zoom, or reach us via Facebook Messenger!

If we aren’t immediately available, we will do our best to follow up as soon as we can (Please note that we may not physically be in the office, so we don’t recommend stopping in unannounced).

As updates become available that impact student organizations, we will be sharing them with you.