Since the outbreak of COVID-19, video chatting has become a new norm for East Carolina University students and faculty alike. Religious groups on campus have begun to take advantage of softwares such as Zoom and WebEx to keep in touch and hold services while taking precautions against the virus.
East Carolina has 36 religious groups on campus, including Fuse Ministries, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Hillel at ECU and others. ECU’s Muslim Student Association said they are taking advantage of the new online connection opportunities to stay in touch.
Senior MIS and business management major Hamza Benlerneb is secretary of ECU’s MSA and spoke on the changes his organization has seen since COVID-19. He said the virus has caused the association to tone down its activities.
“We have toned things down and not done much. We have kept in touch with most members as our MSA isn't big as it was in the past,” Benlerneb said.
Benlerneb said he would like to have more meetings and collaborate with other ECU organizations such as the Arab Student Union and the Black Student Union.
Another organization on campus transitioning to online meetings is Campus Christian Fellowship (CCF), a non-denominational ministry on ECU’s campus. Since COVID-19, CCF has hosted online devotionals with its members, according to Campus Minister Travis Taylor.
Taylor said since Coronavirus, CCF has had to adapt and uses Zoom for meetings. He said the purpose of the meetings is for students to talk about the struggles they may face during this time.
“We’ve mostly gone to Zoom online meetings. We try to get as many students together at least once a week to talk about their weeks. We share about things that are encouraging us and also share prayer requests with one another during this time,” Taylor said.
Taylor said it’s more difficult to keep up with certain students due to changing routines and schedules.
“We’re usually getting lunch, coffee or spending time with our students daily and throughout the week when we’re on campus. So this isn’t just hard for our students, it’s hard on us at times because we’re so involved and connected with our students,” Taylor said.
Devon Patterson campus director for Every Nation Campus at ECU said since the spread of COVID-19, all staff and student led meetings have been held online. He said the organization has also donated canned goods and money to families that may be struggling during this time.
“Especially now during this time of social distancing, students need some kind of meaningful social connections. We have contributed some canned goods and money to families that may be at risk,” Patterson said.
Patterson said that although less students are engaged because of lack of group gatherings, ENC has promoted eating at local businesses and supporting efforts to make face shields for healthcare workers at Vidant.
After reaching out to another religious group, Hilell at ECU on March 30, we have not been able to get in touch.
“Coronavirus has caught us all off guard. However in this time of difficulty and uncertainty it’s inspiring to see students at ENC continue to lead and serve others in a time when it would be easy to focus on themselves,” Patterson said.