Student organizations at UTEP remain active despite COVID

Here’s how the El Paso Honey Badgers and Amigo Miner have adapted to the pandemic

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Illustration by Hugo Hinojosa

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t stopping student organizations at UTEP from enhancing the college experience.

Victoria Almaguer, Contributor

The college experience is going to be very different this semester for students everywhere because classes are now mostly online.

But despite this new reality, here’s how some student organizations at UTEP have adapted to the COVID-19 era.

The El Paso Honey Badgers is a student organization at UTEP for people interested in video games and e-sports. Alejandro Villarreal, vice president and admin for the Honey Badgers, said that the organization has remained active because it has a lot to offer for its members.

“We are a student-driven organization that promotes social learning, a casual and competitive gaming scene for students of all levels of education, and it provides itself as a central gaming hub for the El Paso community,” Villarreal said.

Due to their ability to play video games remotely and contact each other virtually, the members of the Honey Badgers were able to adapt smoothly to the pandemic, so they continue to do casual and competitive play.

“The gaming community has always used online virtual settings for casual and competitive game play even if an event is in person,” Villarreal said. “A majority of the games we play in-house use online play naturally whether it’s a in person or online event. So, when the pandemic lockdown started, we were able to switch to online with ease and help give not only our collegiate level players a social outlet, but also the El Paso community.”

Villarreal said the Honey Badgers are excited to eventually resume their meetings and reconnect with players and members they haven’t seen since the spring semester. With roughly 280 members in the organization, the Honey Badgers expect to continue to grow and expand the gaming community.

“We also get to welcome new players that are interested in playing with the teams growing our badger community even bigger than before. We welcome UTEP students, EPCC students, and the El Paso community at join us at our meeting,” said Villarreal.

Another student organization that continues to adjust to the pandemic is Amigo Miner. Focused on assisting international graduate students, the organization had to revamp how it does its standard meetings and events.

Established in January 2019, the organization was initially just a welcome committee, but due to the need to assist international students with small commodities, the original members of Amigo Miner eventually applied and became a recognized organization.

“Aside from tuition and texdtbook fees, if an international student is traveling, we don’t want them to be puzzled and have nobody welcome them,” said Blanca Carrasco, the organization’s adviser. “We want to be that welcome and help create a network of friends even with faculty and staff.”

With COVID cases still rising in the nation, the club is facing the issue of assisting international students from afar.

“Because we mainly help international students, the panic with all of these immigration rules and questions of how to still study here,” Carrasco said. “We want to help answer those questions, but because of the pandemic and putting everything on hold, we have been unable to reach out to our new students.”

Still trying to adapt and provide to their members, the organization is planning to upload videos on YouTube expressing the experiences that these international students have. They are currently accepting applications for students to join the organization and share their experiences of where they’re originally from.

The Student Engagement & Leadership Center oversees more than 200 registered student organizations where students can create new friendships and create new memories. If you are interested in checking out these RSO’s, you can always go to Student Engagement & Leadership Center website at UTEP.edu

Victoria Almaguer may be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @victoriaalmagu9