Clubs take advantage of new semester guidelines with food-based community events

Club Council guidelines include changes to inviting external guests to events and restrictions on food handling

Clubs take advantage of new semester guidelines with food-based community events

As American University's coronavirus protocols slimmed this semester, so did the guidelines for clubs. On-campus organizations have taken advantage of the less restrictive guidelines, which lifted food restrictions, made the events timeline request process more flexible and allowed for external guests.

School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences senior Daniel Cohen is the finance director of AU Club Council and keeps records of the allocation of money to different clubs. Cohen said that the guidelines last semester looked a little different due to the fall 2021 health and safety guidelines released by the University, but as the University’s guidelines changed so did AUCC’s. 

“With the food guidelines, there's no longer a restriction on the food type or serving style,” Cohen said. “Last semester due to COVID we required that clubs had pre-packaged food just because they had to abide by those guidelines put in place by the university.”

CAS senior Shahad Mohieldin is the chair for AUCC and oversees the club consultants and makes sure there is communication between them and their respective clubs. Mohieldin said that last semester, there was a guideline where if an event required food, then it would be considered a “complex event” which meant that clubs would have to put in a budget request five weeks before their event for it to be approved by AUCC. Now due to the updated food guidelines, clubs can put in a request for food three weeks before the event. 

“One of the reasons why we changed this is because of updated guidelines, but we also wanted it to be easier on clubs for them to plan out their events effectively and make sure their food was available, and we realized last semester working with clubs that having a five-week deadline for food complicated things,” Mohieldin said.

The third guideline included inviting external camps for events. Clubs could bring in guests starting from Feb. 15 once they have completed the AU COVID-19 attestation form which confirms proof of vaccination. 

Recently, the Black Student Union took advantage of the new food guideline to plan an immersive cultural catered experience. 

On Feb. 22, BSU hosted an event called “Taste of the Tropics” during Founders Week, which was co-sponsored by AU Caribbean Circle and Student Government.

Zari Scott, a School of Communication junior and the personal relations deputy director for BSU, said that the event was a more enriching experience because they were able to serve food. Students were able to explore the entire diaspora that is the Caribbean trying foods from different countries. 

“My family is from the Caribbean,” Scott said. “Both my parents were born and raised there, so it's just always nice to get to teach people about your culture in a way that doesn't necessarily feel like you're teaching.”

Scott said she thinks that the guidelines issued this semester will really help get freshmen more engaged and bring back that sense of community that upperclassmen experienced before the pandemic. 

Nanaama Idun, a sophomore in CAS, attended the Love of the Diaspora cultural event March 27 as a part of a joint effort from BSU and the AU NAACP. Food was provided at this event for those who attended. 

“The Love of Diaspora event was meant to recognize and celebrate the diaspora that makes up the Black community,” Idun said. “And food — like many cultures in the world — is a huge part of the culture, since the diaspora is so expansive.”

Idun said that the event was a success and helped bring the AU Black community closer together thanks to the less strict guidelines surrounding food from AUCC.

“Food brings communities together, no matter where you're from or what you like to eat. Food is a pillar of what you think about unity,” Idun said. “That’s why the Love of Diaspora event helped bring us all together and celebrate the food that has ties to who we all are.”

Looking ahead, the AU Bhangra Crew is hosting an event on April 15 called the AU Bhangra Bash. A DJ, catered food and performances will be provided free for AU students to attend with valid AU ID and a vaccination card. 

Ajuni Takkar, a CAS junior and choreographer for AU Bhangra CREW, helped plan this event as a part of the e-board. 

“When it comes to cultural events, it is especially important to have food to share a piece of your heritage with others,” Takkar said. “We look forward to bringing catered food from Cafe of India in Tenleytown, so the updated AUCC guidelines this semester have allowed us to also support a local Indian-owned business.”

Takkar said that the club experienced an increase in involvement, which is why it was important for e-board to host an event to boost inclusivity and interest for the fast-growing club. 

“The new guidelines are an improvement, so it’s nice to be able to look at Cafe of India’s menu and not worry about food being individually wrapped,” Takkar said. “We were less focused on food restrictions when preparing for this event and so we avoided spending time on a potential added layer of restriction.” 

Takkar said they put in a lot of effort to organize the event, so hopefully providing food will increase attendance at the upcoming bash. 

“Overall, we are really trying to increase our presence on campus because other nearby schools have a huge Bhangra club,” Takkar said. “We’ve tried to grow and diversify our organization, so having a local cafe cater our event will help with engagement and spread more awareness about the existence of the AU Bhangra Crew.” 

Scott also mentioned how the new regulations will help encourage community building and engagement with clubs as things were before the virtual switch due to the pandemic. 

“I think these new sanctions … bring back that pre-COVID atmosphere that I know a lot of the upperclassmen had,” Scott said. “That's been my whole goal, to give the younger students the opportunities that I know I had and enjoyed and were the reasons why I chose to stay at AU.

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