Not as many students wander the campus these days and with recommendations of social distancing and quarantine, the university continues to seek out interactions with students.
Social media has played a large role in keeping students engaged and aware about what the university is doing during this COVID-19 way of life. Some organizations, like GPC, have utilized Netflix Party to gather the campus community in watching films and shows together. APSU student organizations and centers have also been able to update schedules, talk to students, and continue staff meetings by utilizing platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Zoom.
“Social media has been our number 1 way of staying engaged with APSU students,” WNDAACC director Harold Wallace said. “Due to their workload being 100% online, we’d rather not bombard their email inboxes with emails from us, because they may get easily overlooked. So Instagram and Facebook has been awesome to use during this time.”
According to Wallace, WNDAACC has created a calendar of many virtual events like Tik Tok challenges, and WNDAACC Workout Week to interact with the community in a safe social distancing format.
The centers play a large role on campus in making students feel connected and providing resources to all the demographics of the university, for whatever they might need.
“One of the main life skills you can see in all the activities we are promoting is resiliency. We are working hard to ensure students know about the resources available to them and encouraging the sharing of information among peer groups,” Coordinator for Leadership and Student Organizations, Kelly Carpenter said. “We are hoping to provide positivity and encouragement as leadership skills. Small lessons on time-management, self-care and creativity have also been included.”
Carpenter mentions that “it is difficult to know for sure if we are reaching the students who need support the most, but our social media pages have been very active.”
During this time, though it comes in a new form, the university is still working to make sure resources are available.
“As a campus community, all departments are working hard to share each other’s posts, cross-promote opportunities, and ensure our Govs are connected to all the resources available,” Carpenter said. “The recognized student organizations are included in this work. They too are working hard to stay connected and interact with their members.”
Student organizations, like Govs Programming Council and Student Government Association, are also involved with creating new, unique ways to get through quarantine and adjust to changes from online classes, and week long quarantines.
SGA recently ran an election for the next academic year, virtually and held voting through PeayLink. The organization shifted schedules and plans for the rest of the semester around in response to quarantine.
“We made the decision to postpone the drafting of legislation. SGA drafts legislation to find ways to better serve the students, so our senators need student input as well as administrative assistance to draft legislation,” SGA vice president Kito Aruh said. “It is quite difficult to do at this time so we have decided to postpone until further notice.”
GPC has also jumped in on social media, creating a handful of Tik Tok challenges and fun Netflix party gatherings to keep the event driven spirit of Governors around, even in these indoor confined times.
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🚨 NEW CHALLENGE ALERT🚨 ————————————————————- #GPCchallenge ! Think you can do better?? 🤨 1. Post your video on your story 2. TAG @apsugpc 3. Challenge 3 other friends! A winner will be chosen TOMORROW April 4th! Hop on this wave while it’s hot! 🥵 ————————————————————— #apsu #gpcchallenge #GPC #TikTok #TikTokChallenge
Even though social media has been helpful for campus in this time, there is still a large demographic in the student body that continue to need resources. Non-traditional students may not utilize social media as much or might prefer having the ability to video call, or phone-in for information.
“As soon as the word that we were moving to non-face-to-face classes came down it was a main priority for the center to re-evaluate and determine how we can best serve our Transfer and Nontraditional students,” ANTS coordinator Ashley Kautz said. “ANTS, the HCC, and SLE immediately met to move programs online to offer an outlet and mode for engagement while everyone is at home.”
Non-traditional and transfer students were also facing the transition to online classes they might not have had before or were unfamiliar with.
“As with many students, a vast majority of our students had never taken an online class and were unfamiliar with D2L or other online resources. While reaching out to students, I offered to schedule meetings with students to walk through available academic resources, explain D2L, review zoom, and more,” Kautz said. “I ended up working with about 50 students to do just this in the first week and a half that we knew classes would be moved to an online format.”
According to Carpenter, SLE continued events online like video series of campus resources, #adulting lessons, social hours on ZOOM, Netflix parties, online crafting, virtual treasure hunts and a few other things. She said they even continue to meet regularly with the student groups they advise through Zoom meetings and hold meetings Zoom for those who would like to have a conversation rather than communicate through email.
Even though the university is farther apart from students than normal there are still many online events, interactions and meetings happening to keep Govs together.
“My hopes are that the students will still make use of the centers resources as much as possible and definitely stay engaged in our virtual programming. I think that once students truly adjust to this way of life, they will also look for more ways to stay connected to each other and our centers alike,” Wallace said. “You are hoping that you’ve done your job to make your center more than simply a physical space, but something the students enjoy staying connected to regardless.”
The state is still under a mandated stay home order until the end of April and the semester still has a few weeks left, which means there is a continued need for the student organizations and center’s resources, and each is working to provide them.
“I’m sure it’s no surprise to hear that the SLE staff all enjoy being around our students. We thrive from the energy and interest that students share at our programs, in our leadership teams, and in the office,” Carpenter said. “So it has been a difficult transition for us all to be off campus. Our everyday life has been filled with Zoom meetings, ongoing text conversations and all other forms of virtual communication, so we are staying in touch, but we will all be relieved to be back on campus surrounded by students, noise and excitement.”
A university is made up of its students, faculty and supporters and in this time there are so many new formats making this visible, even when the campus is emptier than normal.
“This is a tough time for all- students, staff, and everyone in general. People are losing jobs and having to make major adjustments, all while a pandemic is happening. I want students to know that if you are struggling, you are not alone and it is normal to feel that stress and unhappiness during this time,” Kautz said. “But, I want them to also know that we are still here to help. Whether it’s with a class, food, or finances, please do not hesitate to reach out to the ANTS Center, or any other area on campus where they feel comfortable. We are all still here and we all still want to help you succeed. “
All the student organizations centers have social media platforms that are used regularly to update on changes, what is going on and promote events. Check them out to find more information about resources or online events happening in the next few weeks.