The recent closure of campus facilities and cancellation of events left many University of Wisconsin—Stout student organizations without a way to conduct business. According to Darrin Witucki, Student Center Director and SSA advisor, 221 events were canceled in the two weeks following spring break—including 203 student organization meetings—and the Stout Student Association (SSA) was no exception.

As the SSA works to set their own procedures for the unique campus closure, SSA President Deon Canon said they plan to share their ideas with other student organizations after spring break. “Be able to adapt. No matter how patient you are—you are going to run into problems,” said Canon. “This is a great opportunity to try new things for your orgs.”

According to Witucki, UW-Stout’s 50th Student Congress is the first to witness a pandemic closure in SSA’s history.

In order to continue serving the UW-Stout student body under the authority of Wisconsin State Statute 36.09(5), the SSA must continue to operate according to their constitution. However, the SSA constitution—like most student organizations—has no bylaws concerning a campus closure in the event of a global pandemic. “SSA can’t be put on hold. We need alternatives to meetings,” Canon said.

The SSA is currently exploring virtual meeting options like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Many professors were also urged to utilize Microsoft Teams—a system UW-Stout students have access to. The SSA recommends that organizations try adapting Robert’s Rules of Order, a meeting governance system used in parliamentary procedure, to an online meeting environment.

“we have had nothing but positive responses and understanding from all of our reservation groups:  external clients, departments, and student orgs,” Witucki said. “We move forward the best we can, and we hope for the best.”