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Carolina Union event space reservations to be available starting in November

A student walks into the Student Union on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Starting Thursday, Nov. 5, 2020, student organizations can start reserving space in the Union for their use in the spring semester.

The Carolina Union will allow student organizations to reserve temporary spaces for the spring semester, starting Nov. 5.  

If events on campus stay prohibited in the spring, these reservations will be canceled, and the organizations will be alerted like they were in the fall, Joe Singer, senior associate director for Carolina Union events services, said. 

Singer said the events held within the Carolina Union starting in the spring will follow the University's guidelines for gatherings and events on the Carolina Together website. 

“The Carolina Union will keep student organizations abreast of any updates in reservation status due to changes," Singer said. "This includes gathering size, capacity of spaces and reduced space availability."

But UNC students have expressed concerns about reopening and the conditions that should be met to maintain safety in the Student Union during the pandemic. 

Amisha Garikipati, a junior neuroscience major at UNC, is on the executive board of the Carolina Neuroscience Club. Garikipati said the club has faced difficulties in recruiting new members due to the pandemic. 

While the club has been meeting virtually instead of at the Student Union, Garikipati said one positive of going online is that it has presented new opportunities for the club and a chance to attract more people through new platforms. 

“Even though we do have a fewer turnout now, it has presented some opportunities that wouldn't have been possible before," Garikipati said. "We had someone from the neuroscience club in South Carolina reach out to us and see if we could potentially collaborate." 

Garikipati said she is not sure if the club would use the event reservation ability for the spring semester. If members thought it was safe and beneficial, she said the club would do it. 

"But I guess we would have to see how things are doing at that point in time and reach out to our members and see if they are comfortable with that and if that's something they'd want to do," she said. 

Megan Wagner, a sophomore economics and communications major, serves as secretary for the UNC Young Democrats. She said the club has had a significant decrease in new member recruits due to COVID-19.

"It's just a lot harder to work around getting people to come to meetings in general, especially since everything is virtual and classes have been moved back, so the timing of everything is a lot harder," Wagner said.

Prior to the pandemic, Wagner said UNC Young Democrats reserved a room to hold their weekly cabinet meetings and other events — which in the past have included hosting Beto O’Rourke at the Student Union. 

“We've used it a lot to host voter registration and lit drops," Wagner said. "Its just a place for everyone to meet, get the materials that we need and disperse off to where you need to go."

Wagner said the club is not yet certain whether it will use the Union in the spring semester. But some precautions she would personally like to see are temperature screenings, hand sanitizer stations, masks required and 6 feet of social distancing.

“It really depends on so many different things — if we're on campus, if COVID is not as rampant as it is currently and we are able to safely have officer meetings, then probably," Wagner said. "But if it's not safe, then we’ll probably just stick to virtual."

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