PNW, clubs experiment virtually to keep students engaged

With fewer than half the students actually attending classes on campus this semester, PNW is struggling to promote student engagement.

Student organizations, administrators and others are looking for ways to keep students involved.

Activities like  “Pride Pick-Up” allowed students to drive past tables in the Hammond parking garage to pick up a free PNW bookbag with some souvenirs inside.

Student Life also organized a virtual welcome rally that allowed students to meet the faculty and be introduced to many campus organizations.

Colin Fewer, dean of students, said that organizations are doing the best they can to provide students with as close-to-a-normal experience as possible.

“Student Life has done a really good job of trying to make fun virtual events over the summer and keeping peoples energies up, finding a way to do a virtual Pride Stride and virtual welcome was strange but it was a fun way to start off the semester with the challenges that we have in front of us right now,” said Oriana White, Student Government Association president.

 “I know that clubs are really eager to start re-planning their events for something virtual or hoping that when Spring comes we can meet in person,” she said. “There are 85 clubs that are highly engaged and very excited to make the best of the school year.”

COVID-19 apparently has not yet forced any student organization to close down or even slow their events and activities. Many clubs, like PR Club, have continued meeting virtually to discuss how they will adjust this semester.

Other organizations are looking at hosting events outdoors or in larger rooms like Alumni Hall.

 “It is extremely important for student organizations and students in general to stay active on campus,” said White. “Going to college is difficult and it can feel really lonely if you’re not involved in some student organization.

“I hope students are still trying to get involved or trying to go to an activity on campus, whether it be a virtual meeting or an outside distanced meeting or drive-in because being engaged in clubs is how students come back and feel connected,” she said.

Daniel Jacobo, a junior Mechanical Engineering major, is conflicted about the situation.

“I’m kind of glad the school is still trying their best to give us a fun and welcoming atmosphere even though campus is sometimes empty,” he said. “[But] I hate that everything is virtual now, the classes are harder to understand and as for events, it’s just not the same, it’s upsetting sometimes.”