Despite pandemic, getting involved on campus still very important
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
It might seem like more and more of life has become virtual and, because of that, impersonal. But you can still become involved with your school and feel connected to fellow students — and you should.
Geoffrey Hopkins, psychiatrist at St. Joseph’s Health, believes that involvement is worthwhile, despite current restrictions on interactions.
“Even with the precautions, the opportunities allow for growth and development,” Hopkins said. “You have experiences you otherwise wouldn’t necessarily have.”
While it may seem the pandemic has ended fun as we know it, take advantage of the opportunities that are still available through your school’s activities director. It may appear less appealing than engaging the way you’re used to, but it’s still important to become involved.
Mike Paestella, assistant director of campus life/student involvement at SUNY Oswego, said that involvement helps students gain employment.
“Companies are looking for students who’ve grown in inclusivity, who have worked with groups on a short deadline,” he said. “It’s where you get to operationalize what you’ve learned in the classroom. That’s the skillset they want.”
Involvement on campus can help you become a well-rounded person with interests that go outside of your major. You can learn interpersonal skills and organization. Involvement can also help you network with people who could introduce you to great opportunities. It’s also a great way to relieve stress.
Paestella said the school’s virtual engagement with students expands the audience to include more students.
“If they’re not available to be there, they can still watch the recording,” he said. “We have a lot of infrastructure in place.”
He added that many people have become accustomed to using Zoom and other platforms for months now, making it easier for students to engage with school activities and events as virtual experiences. Paestella said that it’s brought some surprising results.
“A lot of our student leaders have been as engaged or more engaged this summer than almost any year I’ve seen in the past,” he said. “No matter what semester it is, the key is for the student to get involved. You have more time than what you think you have.
“It’s important to reach out to our office. People will say, ‘Wow, there’s a ton going on.’”
Especially if you’re an upperclassman, ask about opportunities as a student leader. Recruit others to join you in an activity or organization. Find ways to serve others and bring value to the campus and community through volunteering. Don’t focus on what you cannot do because of the pandemic, but what’s still available, as well as unique opportunities of involvement and service that the pandemic brings.