Today's Update: Thursday, September 10

September 10, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, One of the challenges we face in the world of COVID (I can’t even say one of the biggest challenges because they all seem to be big) is providing activities and outlets for our students while keeping them physically distant and safe.  

This is yet another area where our Student Life team has risen to the challenge in creative, innovative ways. And, because of this effort, students are responding. 

I think we can all agree that this semester isn’t looking the way we are used to, nor the way we want. Many of the evidence-based activities that would normally be the core of the student experience, won’t be happening in the traditional way.  

For instance, an Ohio State study found formal and informal engagement with peers to be a predictor of second-year student success. There WILL be engagement, even if student organization meetings are suspended for now. At best, the engagement will only be in groups of 10 or less and students will constantly have to think about “how close am I to the person beside me.”  

The literature also indicates that residential living contributes to increased retention and persistence because it creates social integration opportunities and contributes to the development of students’ sense of belonging. We can’t know yet how the decreased on-campus residents, coupled with the changes in delivery models, will impact the overall student experience. But we shouldn’t just assume the results will be totally negative.  

I believe that our institution’s ability to diversify our delivery models for things like programming and services will be essential for the future, even when we return fully after the current threat of COVID-19 is a thing of the past. 

Student Life’s Student Activities team recently held a virtual Student Involvement Fair. As you probably know, this is traditionally an event that happens on the Oval with literally hundreds of student organizations showcasing their group behind tables. Thousands of students attend and it has been a Welcome Week tradition for more than 20 years. 

A virtual event was a huge transition, and no one knew what to expect. Now we know, and the results are extremely positive.  

  • More than 750 registered organizations (750 is our capacity at the in-person event, too)  

  • More than 12,000 participants 

  • More than 50,000 “booth” visits 

  • More than 40,000 “I’m interested” clicks 

Is this how students prefer to have this event? No. But did it stop our students from looking for ways to get involved? Not a chance. 

This is just one example of how we are adapting to our reality and creating solutions that meet the needs of our students.  

I am proud of what we are doing, and you should be too. It is truly Scarlet and Great!