Student organizations shift to virtual meetings and events during COVID-19
Q&A with Associate Dean of Students Brian Heilmeier
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Social connections are an important part of the college experience. How is Bowling Green State University working to ensure students are still able to be connected socially, while maintaining health and safety guidelines?
One of the great things about BGSU is that we have a number of student organizations, about 300-plus, so we’ve been working with those student organizations to host virtual meetings, especially for our new students that are trying to make those connections. They can attend a meeting for a student organization that they might have interest in and through that, they can meet folks and interact.
We are hosting events both online and in-person. While following all the safety guidelines, we are trying to set it up where people could meet each other to discuss and build those connections. If you are attending an event, you probably have at least a little bit of interest, so we want to have those events where you can meet somebody and build upon that relationship throughout the semester in smaller groups.
Campus Fest took place in early September. What were some of the highlights and new opportunities that students took advantage of given that the event was virtual for the first time?
We asked student organizations to submit videos about their organization. We received 157 total videos, so we got a lot of videos which was fantastic. They were really fun to watch, because as you can imagine, each one has its own little flair. It really reminded me of Campus Fest when you walk around, and every table is a little different. Every table has a little bit different feeling, and so it was similar with the videos. We hosted a few info sessions on ways to get involved. We promoted a lot through the general BGSU social media pages, so that students were able to access all those videos.
I think the interesting part is that Campus Fest is obviously a really fun, celebratory time. But the nice part with this is no matter when a student is ready to get involved, they are able to check out that page and get the information – as opposed to having just one day to walk around and see everything. In the future, while we definitely want to keep Campus Fest going, we’d like to augment Campus Fest with these videos and be able to have a virtual or in-person event.
Are there any first-time virtual events or elements to the Campus Activities schedule that you envision keeping beyond this school year?
The virtual element expands what we are able to do. Students are now used to virtual, so even when we come back in-person, we can still offer virtual events so students don’t physically have to be there. For us, it provides for more potential opportunity. Many students like the ability to log-in from their rooms and still be a part of a community through the virtual setting, but also be able to meet in-person for additional events.
What are some of the virtual elements and changes that needed to be implemented in order for the Greek Life community to have a safe and enjoyable school year?
Our biggest shifts so far have been around recruitment. Instead of going into houses, we were able to move all of that online. In the future, we can look at maybe having the first round online, which may open opportunities for more students.