Pandemic’s impact: How is student engagement different?

Published by Rian Berriman on

The fight against the coronavirus pandemic is far from over in a world that has become increasingly confusing for students because, in some ways, student lives look the same while, in other ways, many facets of life are unrecognizable compared to pre-pandemic normalcy. The way we engage with the school has caused continual difficulties, especially for ASUCC.

The Mainstream

To keep students involved with the school, UCC started remote engagement activities, such as the Virtual Student Engagement page, but student involvement in clubs at UCC plummeted. Clubs that previously had many active members moved their meetings online to retain interest, but newer and smaller clubs lost too many members to continue functioning.

In the wake of the poor connection students now have with clubs, ASUCC has worked continually to implement more in-person engagement activities, such as the events like the recent Earth Day celebration. Snacks and resources such as gas cards are often available in the Student Center, with a focus on making these available during midterm and finals weeks. Additionally, the Student Center will be acquiring entertainment equipment such as a foosball table, a pool table and a ping-pong table to encourage students to relax and destress.

Before the pandemic, clubs often gathered in the Student Center.
Rian Berriman / The Mainstream

With over half of Douglas County’s population vaccinated against COVID-19, the eyes of UCC students and faculty have turned toward the future. “I anticipate we’ll have a vibrant and reinvigorated engagement program,” Marjan Coester, director of student engagement and dean of students, said. She hopes to improve on-campus student involvement.

This push to involve students and facilitate face-to-face interaction comes from concern about how the pandemic has affected people socially. While much data is still being produced and reviewed, many experts are concerned about the long-term effects of isolation. The World Health Organization attributes a 25 percent worldwide increase in anxiety and depression to the pandemic. The possibility of a public mental health crisis is one of the factors spurring UCC, and many institutions like it, to hasten efforts to get students engaged and on campus again.

Like many aspects of the pandemic, the way forward is unclear, but UCC is focused on making sure its students are happy, healthy and fully engaged in their education. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, substance abuse disorder, or any related concerns, please contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at 1-800-273-8255.

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