NYU's Independent Student Newspaper

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NYU's Independent Student Newspaper

Washington Square News

NYU's Independent Student Newspaper

Washington Square News

Performing arts and sports clubs prohibited from holding in-person activities

Students expressed disappointment and frustration after hearing that performing arts and sports clubs — a staple of NYU’s student life offerings — can no longer meet in person.

NYU%E2%80%99s+Quidditch+team+was+looking+forward+to+returning+to+playing+games+for+the+first+time+since+COVID-19+began.+However%2C+a+new+policy+from+NYU%E2%80%99s+Center+for+Student+Life+has+suspended+all+in-person+activities+for+performing+arts+and+sports+clubs.+%28Image+courtesy+of+NYU+Quidditch%29

NYU’s Quidditch team was looking forward to returning to playing games for the first time since COVID-19 began. However, a new policy from NYU’s Center for Student Life has suspended all in-person activities for performing arts and sports clubs. (Image courtesy of NYU Quidditch)

By Maria Freyre, Staff Writer

NYU’s Quidditch team was looking forward to traveling to games, welcoming new players and heading to Warwick, R.I., for the US Quidditch Northeast Regional Championship for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. But the team’s excitement was quashed when it was informed on Sept. 22 that the Center for Student Life decided to suspend all in-person activities for performing arts and sports clubs — despite initially allowing a full resumption at the beginning of the fall 2021 semester.

“​​I did not expect this decision from the university,” CAS senior Clara Plutzer, the Quidditch team president, said. “I then had to go and tell the 40-something people who attended our events in the first two weeks of the semester, who had gotten excited to be on the team and play the game, that we are not allowed to practice anymore.”

The Quidditch team is one of many NYU clubs reworking their plans for the fall semester following the rule change. Tava Bingham, director of operations and club life at the Center for Student Life, said that the decision was made after weeks of consultation with university health officials.

“This decision is based on several factors including, the risk of COVID-19 transmission with these activities, NYC regulations, and the complexity of mitigation strategies,” Bingham wrote to WSN.

The city’s Department of Education is allowing vaccinated K-12 students to participate in extracurricular activities, including those that involve sports or the performing arts. Most local COVID-19 restrictions were lifted on June 15.

The K-pop cover dance team KNESIS are no longer able to have their practices in person. (Photo by Kelly Sand)

Members of KNESIS, a K-pop cover dance team that operates as a club at NYU, were enthusiastic about going back to in-person activities. The university’s decision came as a shock, especially after the club had made plans to social distance and incorporate capacity limits at dance classes to comply with university COVID-19 protocols.

Steinhardt senior Kelly Sand, who is on KNESIS’ e-board, shared her teammates’ frustration at the idea of returning to virtual practice sessions, since the online classes saw low turnouts. 

“At the end of the day, learning a dance on Zoom just can’t compete with attending an in-person master class,” Sand said.

Tisch senior Sam Reddick, who is the president of the Ninja team (Ninja is a competitive obstacle course game), asked a student life advisor to confirm whether Ninja counted as a sports-based organization and whether the team could meet in person to socialize without playing the game.

“We were interested in in-person meetings without physical activities — simply just conversations,” Reddick said. “I found out that Ninja club was not allowed to meet in person even if there was no physical component due to the club’s categorization.”

NYU’s decision contradicts their initial statement, which permitted in-person meetings for performance arts and sports clubs as long as they did not engage in performance- or fitness-based activities. 

Meanwhile, other clubs are still able to hold in-person meetings with large 250-person capacities.

“I struggle to see how a room with 250 people doing a non-athletic activity is significantly less dangerous than a group of 20 people engaging in physical activity with social distancing,” Sand said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not a COVID-19 expert and have to comply with what the university has decided.”

Members of affected clubs also pointed out that NYU has continued to allow its gyms and official NYU Athletics teams to conduct regular in-person practices and activities.

“I know NYU cites COVID-19 guidelines as the reason,” Tandon senior Nathan Shek, also on KNESIS’s e-board, said. “But especially seeing how gyms are open, and how there’s still no definite protocol for breakthrough cases, it’s kind of hard to believe that COVID-19 restrictions are the only reason why NYU made this decision.”

NYU’s athletic facilities — the Palladium Athletic Facility, the Brooklyn Athletic Facility and 404 Fitness — are open to all NYU students, with masks and proof of vaccination required. According to Plutzer, sports clubs were told that varsity and intramural athletics teams were allowed to play competitively because their professional coaches are trained in first aid.

“We offered to use our budget to get the same training, to hire a coach, to do anything they wanted,” Plutzer said. “Their response was, ‘I don’t know. I’ll ask the people higher than us.’”

Bingham told the Quidditch team that the decision is out of the Center for Student Life’s control, and that the decision was made following conversations with NYU’s COVID-19 Prevention and Response Team leader Carlo Ciotoli and population health director Allison Smith. Bingham also told them that NYU is unlikely to change the decision before the spring 2022 semester.

Contact Maria Freyre at [email protected]

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