No Break for Summer: Engagement Opportunities Continue to Keep Students Connected
In a typical year, between summer orientation and move-in day, there’s a bit of a lull in engagement activities for new students.
Not this year.
This summer, the calendar is packed with virtual events and opportunities to help incoming students get connected to Widener and each other.
COVID-19 has Widener’s Office of Student Engagement (OSE) taking a different approach this year – both toward new and returning students.
“Summer programming is new for us,” said Austin Duckett, assistant dean of students. “We’re trying to think through things differently, to have the same impact and outcome as if we were on campus.”
Following virtual summer orientation sessions, during which incoming students registered for classes and met with advisors, OSE kicked off a slate of events and programs.
In July, the office held bingo, trivia night, a virtual talent show, and more. There were also a number of topic-specific information sessions addressing everything from Fraternity and Sorority Life to what it’s like being a commuter.
Additional programming is in the works for August.
A robust hub on the Widener website is also helping to keep new students engaged, and offers a one-stop-shop for the resources they need to successfully navigate the university.
As usual, Widener’s energetic student orientation leaders, known as C.R.E.W. (Committee Responsible for Enhancing Widener), are helping to lead the charge.
With the mission of helping to ease the transition to college life, the C.R.E.W. Leaders say they’re taking their tried-and-true methods and adapting them for COVID-19 realities.
“We’re focused on keeping the new students engaged and building that welcoming atmosphere,” said Bridget Dombrowski ’21, a C.R.E.W. captain. “We’re focusing on what students want to know about, and what it looks like to be a student, especially in this period of uncertainty.”
The fall semester will be different from the typical campus experience, but the C.R.E.W. Leaders are encouraging the newcomers to get involved, whether that’s online or in person, to step out of their comfort zones, and to be flexible.
“Don’t be afraid to get to know your classmates. Get engaged. And be prepared to take a breath,” advises Noah Smeriglio ’22, a C.R.E.W. captain.
Widener has so much to offer. This is the time to grow yourself and learn more about yourself and your potential. — Bridget Dombrowski ’21, C.R.E.W. captain
Summer engagement opportunities are not solely for new students this year. Widener’s OSE is continuing to offer programming and opportunities to keep current students connected, and is sharing non-Widener events and programs that students may be interested in joining.
OSE is communicating through a weekly newsletter called “Separated Together,” which carries the tagline of “We’re All Widener, Wherever We Are.” The newsletter offers tips on staying connected, virtual contest information, socially distant activities, exercise and fitness programs, and links to what’s happening locally. The newsletter also profiles a different department or office on campus.
Through OSE’s social media channels, students will also find updates and different features, including Celebrity Chef Fridays and Widener Pride Days.
And throughout the summer, students, student-run organizations, faculty, and staff are organizing and running programming that brings people together to talk about systemic racism and what can be done individually and collectively as a community to move the needle.
The Student Government Association (SGA) recently hosted Factuality: A 90 Minute Crash Course on Structural Inequality in America. SGA and other organizations are also sharing information on their social media feeds to help inform, educate, and keep these important conversations going.
And the OSE newsletter has offered resources for fighting racism and tips for how to protest safely during the pandemic.
“We’re pinpointing topics we need to discuss, whether that’s virtual (LGBTQ) Pride celebrations or civil unrest,” said Victoria Dean, director of student organizations.
Follow OSE on Instagram: @engagewidener