Keeping Students Engaged

STORY BY HARLEY CUEVAS, AIDAN FOY, LUCIANNA DI GIOVINE, JOSEPH GABRIEL HONORIDEZ

The relationship between students and their experiences on campus seems impossible to maintain when there is no campus; but that definitely hasn’t stopped the Sheridan Student Union from trying.

With constant promotion on their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and official website, there’s been no lack of effort on the SSU’s behalf to keep events at Sheridan alive. Although there’s been some growing pains, SSU President Kyle Budge is optimistic for the future.

“It was difficult in the beginning, everything happened very quickly. We didn’t have policies in place, so we had to adjust the workflow… and did end up reducing the number of staff significantly,” said Budge, via our Zoom interview.

Kyle had some very large shoes to fill as the SSU’s newest president, but says he’s ‘actually really enjoyed’ the virtual experience. Although he’s been a member of the union for the past 5 years, he is the first in Sheridan’s history to step into the role without the 2 month transition period guided by the former president – and the first to serve during a global pandemic.

“Having meetings where … you can’t just walk over and talk to somebody, it’s still very challenging but, I think it works out okay.” (Marvin Meyer/Unsplash)

Despite these hurdles, Kyle believes he and his team are the right people to help nurture a sense of community for students, even if they aren’t physically on campus. To him, events are a vital part of the college experience, and serve as a great opportunity for connection in the COVID era of isolation.

“Obviously there is a little less engagement since we are virtual, but we’ve still had a fairly successful turnout for everything… We’re looking at integrating new platforms and new ways of engaging students to get a little bit better of a turnout. I think we’ve hired the right people to be a part of that initiative, to get students involved and know about the things we’re doing for them.”

A look at the SSU’s website shows the same variety of fun activities that would be expected in a “normal” semester at Sheridan – albeit virtual. Pumpkin carving and basket making are scheduled to end the month of October, with weekly fitness and yoga sessions ongoing via Facebook live.

But while these events might keep students following along, what can keep them engaged? Kyle says to look forward to November and onward where they’ll be shifting towards more participation-based content. An online escape room will be having its debut, alongside Sheridan hallmarks Open Mic Night and Paint Nite making their virtual return. While the SSU may face some challenges in terms of moderating these events, Kyle is confident they’ll be able to keep students invested.

“The hope is that once students are back on campus, they will remember all the events we put together and will want to keep being involved in the Sheridan community.”

To help promote Sheridan’s shift to a virtual environment, the SSU is hosting a Virtual Club Fair on November 4th & 5th, from 9AM to 5PM. Here, students will be able to chat with club coordinators to discover what an online community might have to offer you.

Are you a member of an SSU club? Did you even know events were still happening?

Check out our calendar for upcoming Sheridan events!

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