Social distancing, participating in virtual meetings, programs and events, and being away from home can make it difficult for your student to feel engaged on campus and connected to fellow students. But staying involved and engaged is possible, even in this unusual time.
Student organizations are a great way for your student to get connected, with interests running the gamut. Much like the rest of the University, student organizations have had to modify their activities in our public health-informed environment.
The challenges and opportunities involved are similar to other areas of the institution, but student organizations are figuring it out, according to Nick Smith, Associate Director of the Center for Campus Involvement (CCI).
“Some are gathering in small groups outdoors to meet, following public health guidelines. Others are creating new ways to engage the community, such as MUSKET -- the oldest student run theatre organization at U-M -- by hosting their musical production virtual live in concert and working with alumni to do a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS virtual concert,” he said. “Our students are talented and adaptable to changing circumstances.”
Some student organizations are meeting in small groups that are allowable in University Unions, including meetings in the student organization co-working space called the IdeaHub in the Michigan Union (though, furniture is physically distanced). Festifall, UM’s fall student organization recruitment event, was completely virtual with 3000 participants which is more than 60 percent typical participation.
“Many students need support during these challenging times, and our student organizations create micro-communities that provide students with caring and engaging spaces to help ensure they are able to thrive at the University of Michigan,” Smith explained. “Enhanced virtual connectivity increases access to students not living on or near campus or who may not have been able to participate in the past due to commitments beyond campus. For those with reliable internet in their living space, it's easy to log in to be in community with others.”
University Unions Weeklyserv
In addition, every Wednesday evening CCI plans a "University Unions Weekly" event focused on community building activities. These include Grab-n-Go Experience Boxes for students to pick up from University Unions buildings and take to their residential spaces to complete activities in small groups. Examples include art boxes with guided instructions or Michigan-themed crafts, and snacks and games.
Virtual UMix Late Night
Every Friday night, CCI facilitates a virtual UMix Late Night event with activities such as trivia contests, virtual dance parties, and competitions open to large numbers of students. With Halloween and home football coming up, CCI will have a series of activities such as pumpkin decorating kits for students, digital escape rooms, and spooky movie watches.
To learn more about the Center for Campus Involvement (CCI) opportunities:
- Check out the Fall 2020 Resources & Guidance for Student Organizations.
- Visit the CCI Facebook page and CCI Twitter feed to engage in valuable, topical content and learn about upcoming virtual programs for stress-relief, and socialization. Check out CCI’s Happening Calendar for the latest programs.
- Visit the Leadership page to learn more about or sign up for Leadership Consultation appointments, student organization workshops such as leadership transition and funding basics.
- Visit Maize Pages to register a student organization.
- Meet with CCI: Need individualized support for your student org? Request a consultation with CCI staff.
- Not sure how to get involved in a student organization? Sign up for an Involvement Drop-In! Or email at firstname.lastname@example.org for student organization support.
Your student can also stay engaged by getting involved in upcoming celebration planning. Multi-Ethnic Student Affairs (MESA) has several opportunities for your student to develop both professional and leadership skills by joining the planning committee for heritage month programs. Joining a planning committee also offers a meaningful connection and friendship, and a supportive network with students across campus who share similar interest and passion.
Currently, students can still join the Native American Heritage Month and Black History Month Planning Committees.
Students can also create their own opportunities to engage others to promote social justice education through the lens of race and ethnicity. The MESA Grant Program is designed to offer students such opportunity. If they are a member of a student organization and would like to organize an educational workshop on Anti-Racism and Coalition Building for their group, they can also request a workshop here.
It's a great way for the group to learn together and build an authentic friendship and working relationship.