September 24, 2020

Campus activities try to build community during COVID-19

On campus, clubs and organizations are figuring out new ways to connect and engage with students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Involvement Fair was held virtually this year.

The start of the school year looked different from last year. In years past, the first week consisted of students and families bustling around campus on move-in days, attending social events to meet people and awkward ice breakers on the first day of classes. 

With the situation COVID-19 has created, the world has had to adapt for nearly every situation – going to work, attending school, celebrating birthday parties and hosting graduation ceremonies.

Even now, social interactions that were once taken for granted present a major challenge. President of the Webster University College Democrats Kaleigh Finney said this year, student involvement will look different. Getting students engaged with the club is going to be harder, she said.

“Since it’s hard when you’re a freshman, trying to go to things and make friends and figure out where you fit in… now you’re kind of isolated in your room and stuck in a little bubble,” Finney said.

To kick off the school year, the virtual involvement fair was presented to students on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3. 

“On the first day of the Involvement Fair… within the first 30 minutes, I had over 100 people who were participating,” Director of Student Engagement Jennifer Stewart said. “It was really exciting to see that they were going through and communicating with the clubs.” 

Members of Delta Phi Epsilon, the sorority at Webster, attend a Zoom meeting during the Virtual Involvement Fair.
on Sept. 3. They discuss the basic principles of the sorority and explain what the recruitment process will be like. Photo by Morgan Smith.

Student clubs and organizations are doing their best to engage with the student body even through virtual platforms. According to Sarah Hill, President of Student Government Association (SGA), student leaders are facing current challenges with creativity and adaptability.

“The executive board hosted a training last week for SGA members and used some digital tools that we could pull into Zoom to have people put things on a digital wall,” Hill said. “This made it more creative and engaging versus just listening to someone talk.” 

Activities that typically revolve around in person meetings look entirely different this semester and will continue to until further notice. 

Meeting with the self defense club before the beginning of school, Stewart helped address how the club can continue to meet and be beneficial.

“We talked about some ways to switch their focus instead. They’re going to recruit people and talk about the mental part of self defense and the strategies,” Stewart said. “There’s opportunities and maybe things that you might not have normally done.”

Overall, the goal of all the campus clubs, organizations and activities is to draw as much of the student body in as they can.  

“We have to make sure we’re doing whatever we can to make students feel like they are welcome at Webster, that they have people standing behind them,” Finney said.

Through their efforts Finney, Stewart and Hill all agree the best way to adapt to change is to address the problem head on and give the best effort.

“I have a feeling that we will always be here. That core function will always remain no matter what the challenge because we have dedicated members that care about making Webster even better than it already is. And that will look the same no matter what the platform,” Hill said.

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