Student participation and involvement have dropped immensely since the start of the pandemic. Last year COD had over 100 clubs; now COD has around 40. Participation rates continue to decrease from the start of the semester to now.
“It’s overwhelming and stressful to be a student, especially during these times,” said, Student Life Front Desk Specialist, Jelymar Mejia. “Society is focusing more on self-care and how that’s important for students.”
The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges across the nation to change the way education operates. With COD campuses remaining closed for spring semester, the Office of Student Life continues to adapt to the changes.
Before campus had closed, the Office of Student Life kept students involved and social. The office window provided games to play in the student lounge as well as information about the various clubs at COD. During Chap Days (the first two weeks of fall semester) and Spirit Week the office hosts activities like rollerskating, movie nights, and, of course, plenty of free food.
The office is responsible for free ice cream during Chap Days, the Spirit Week Carnival’s cotton candy, and free popcorn every Wednesday.
“Student Life likes to feed you,” said Mejia. “We love giving away free food. Obviously, we cannot give away food now, so how do we make that up? We’re trying to give away cool stuff.”
Currently, the Office of Student Life is operating virtually. Information about upcoming events are posted on their social media accounts (@CODStudentLife) as well as ChapLife, which is COD’s events and organizations’ webpage. To keep students involved the office has been hosting virtual events like bingo, trivia night, and even escape rooms. For Spirit Week (Oct. 19-23), the office gave away COD spirit wear and other school gear. The giveaway hyperlink was posted at 11 a.m. each day of the week, and the first 50 people who signed up received the items. Each person was allowed one win.
COD student, Annie Walinder, attended many of the Chap Days events including bingo, the escape room, and an airbrush t-shirt event.
“I honestly didn’t know what to expect for any of the virtual events. For bingo, they used an online bingo program that I had never seen before. Through Zoom, the person running the game shared his screen and called out the numbers. It ran a lot smoother than I expected it to. For the escape room, I was confused about how they were going to run an escape room virtually. I have played escape room games before, but this wasn’t anything like those games. The game master hosted a Zoom room and would place the players in groups and then into breakout rooms. Then you go through various documents trying to find the password to a website that unlocks more data.”
One of the biggest challenges for the office has been the mail process. Safety precautions are being taken in the packaging of the items; items are quarantined before being sent out. Since campus is closed, the office also has to request access to the mailroom.
“It is a long process to get things shipped, but I think it is a nice thing to be able to do,” said Mejia. “We can send little pieces of COD to students when they can’t come to campus. For the most part it’s successful. It will take a little longer than going to an event and leaving with the prize. But in the end, everyone will get their prizes.”
Clubs and organizations have resorted to meeting online as well. Many clubs use Zoom to host their meeting and others meet on apps like Discord.
The COD Cyberdefense Club has been meeting on Discord. A member of the club, Matthew Martyka, said, “It’s not the same as being in person and being able to talk to people and help them. Being online is a little more complicated because you have to set a time, hope that everyone has good internet connection and make sure people can speak or be heard.”
The COD Forensics team has weekly meetings hosted over Zoom. Walinder, a member of the team, said, “It’s not the same as meeting in person and the Zoom fatigue is real, but it is still nice to have a structured meeting time and place.”
“So taking time to do something fun or to just switch it up a little bit it is definitely good for students being involved,” said Mejia. It helps you have a more well-rounded college experience and it helps you connect with people.”
“I would love to participate in a lot more of the online events, but the way that online school has been going has made it difficult. I feel like I have even less screen time now than I did when everything was normal.
All events can be found on ChapLife: cod.presence.io