Student Life Dooms Over Zoom

Student life has hopeful plans for spring semester and onward. 

By Jesse Mishler, Staff Writer

The student life department at ARCC struggles this semester with current online formats for distance learning. Student life events still go on but are harder to generate normal attendance numbers due to accessibility, student availability and students’ uncertainty about when these events are going on and how to attend them.

Part of the reason why student life is currently down in attendance numbers is because of a mix of accessibility, stress, external life events, and scheduling. Overall, student life participation is more difficult with the effects of Covid, but student life is still going and balancing the needs of students despite the lower numbers and the burnout the students are facing.

“I think it is harder for students to know about our events because we used to be able to catch students as they walked through the cafeteria between classes and ask them to join our slime making event, for example. But now we have to rely on emails to promote our events and we know people’s inboxes can get filled up quickly,” explained Elise Kazmerzak, Coordinator of Student Engagement and Activities at ARCC Cambridge campus. 

Things that seem to work out for getting higher student turnout include giving out prizes like gift cards and hosting more asynchronous events so that people can participate when it’s comfortable for them. One thing that student life is also working on is diversifying the events and activities offered, including different types of events and speakers. For example, the department is being intentional about scheduling BIPOC and LGBTQ+ artists and speakers. 

“We’re hopeful that things will eventually be able to happen more in person next fall semester 2021, but for the spring semester, it’s hard to say. We’ve got a few new ideas to try that will hopefully be convenient and fun for students to participate in next semester,” Kazmerzak said. 

Attendance numbers are very low this semester compared to when student life was in person, but there was high turnout for the Kahoot events in October which included three “Get Out the Vote” Kahoots.

“Student life looks a lot different online and it has made it harder for us to know what kinds of activities and events students are interested in seeing in the online world,” continued Kazmerzak. 

“We already have one speaker lined up for January 28, a Native American poet who shares his experience in growing self-acceptance and self-love through his personal identity. We’re also planning to do a Virtual Involvement Flipgrid for student clubs and organizations to promote their group and hopefully encourage new members to join them. Other ideas include more asynchronous Kahoots and more collaboration with other departments on campus.” 

Kazmerzak summarized the virtual semester, “We really appreciate the feedback from students who have attended our events and we will continue to provide programming and ways to connect with those who are able to. College is a great time to meet people and try new things, even if they are virtual, so we encourage students to keep an eye out for emails from Student Life with upcoming events!”