College is all about the community – those who you live with and interact with on a daily basis. That changes when most college students are now at home rather than in dorms together. Even though many colleges are online, there are ways that you can still feel involved in your campus’s community. I had the opportunity to interview students and staff at Goucher College to discuss their experience with our new virtual environment, as well as share tips on how to stay involved in the community.
Brandon Rodriguez Torrento (he/him) is a senior business management major and highly involved on campus. He is an admissions ambassador,a Resident Assistant for first year students, a member of the student’s engagement team (SET) and the Club Council Administrator. As the marketing and outreach coordinator for the student engagement team, he also creates social media posts to advertise the for the virtual events.He has led many virtual events on campus but also loves to attend Goucher’s trivia nights! Open Mic nights. Pre-COVID, these events happen once a month and are a great chance to find community at Goucher, but now these events are happening on Instagram live here. Brandon left us with great advice, that “being online does not mean that you can’t create connections.” He encourages you to reach either to old friends or to make new friends even if online!
Aisha Rivers (she/her), the Director of Student Engagement finds opportunities to connect students with one another to, “catalyze involvement, develop various transferable skills, and help create conditions for joy.” While her office has hosted numerous events, she understands that the motivation to join events has changed. With zoom being draining and time consuming, their office relies on Instagram to give students a way to still feel involved on campus. Though, “the experience has not been the same because of the lack of traditional organic and random connection... the engagement that I have seen has been a breath of fresh air because the students who participate make the best out of things.” The student engagement office has done a fantastic job creating a vast array of events for students. “We have been trying to offer things that might be interesting like opportunities on organizing/activism, reflective practices, and astrology.” One of Aisha’s favorite events has been the club involvement fair since it has been such a great opportunity for her to meet new students.
Charlotte Birnbaum (she/her), junior psychology major is on the women’s track and field team and on the Goucher Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC). Though SAAC is not meeting in person, “we are having a virtual spirit week in November on social media (Instagram) where each day is a different spirit day” as a way to promote Goucher spirit! Go gophers! To stay engaged with other students on campus, reach out via phone call or text and first year students,take advantage of the Gopher app to “stay updated on events in the Goucher community as well as [interact] with other Goucher students.” The Gopher app allows for Goucher students to share what is on their mind and express their thoughts on just about everything.
Jibril, (he/him) is a junior and the Co-Editor in Chief for Goucher’s Independent Student Newspaper. When on campus, he is a research assistant at the Goucher College Special Collections & Archives and a Title IX peer educator for the Office of Student Wellness. Jibril attended the student involvement fair? and participates in the community conversations the administration holds each week. Like most others, “my friends and I desperately want to be back in-person and see each other again but the virtual events have been a good substitute and they are a nice setting to briefly see and engage with other students on campus with whom I have casual friendships.” As for recommendations for other events, Jibril says, “OSE (office of student engagement) is just a lovely institution on campus. They’re always hosting fun events and raffles and doing random things...I feel comfortable knowing that when I’m feeling lonely or I just want to hang with some different people for a bit then there’s always going to be something fun going on. I’ve been recommending their events to some first-years I know since the beginning of the semester.” The best way to meet people is to “Join clubs. Both virtually and in-person, I have always felt that clubs are where the true community and spirit of Goucher lives.”
As the semester comes to a close and spring still remains uncertain, remember that this is temporary. That even though there are so many unknowns right now, this will pass. Stay connected to those around you and check in on your friends to relive some college memories!