Westminster College students gathered outside the Bassis Student Center for the Meet a Friend Soireé Tuesday. With many courses moving to virtual instruction, organizers said they want to provide some in-person activities — while maintaining public health safety measures.
“My goal for our program is to be able to meet socially-distanced as much as we can,” said Yovie Saiz, student coordinator for the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center. “We’re all so used to virtual classes I think it’s very necessary to at least have that human contact in some sort.”
The event was part of the Weeks of Welcome series Westminster coordinates every year to help students mingle with the college community as they return to campus.
Multiple campus groups — including the Dumke Center for Civic Engagement and the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center — hosted the Soireé, gearing it toward increased student involvement.
However, the outdoor event looked a little different this year: After a short period of rainfall, everyone was masked and kept a distance of six feet from others. However, there were still free cookies, brochures and smiling eyes ready to discuss how student engagement might look this semester.
“We’ll still have all of our programs run programming,” said Kari Lindsey, program coordinator for the Student Diversity and Inclusion Center. “Some of it is going to be virtual this year so we’re out here to let students know how they can engage with us.”
Despite the pandemic, the center will do what it can to be creative with in-person opportunities, according to Linsdey.
“A lot of our programs are small enough that they can do somewhat in-person [activities],” she said. “Socially distanced, masked, outside.”
The Dumke Center also said it would look at creative ways to sustain student opportunities during the pandemic.
“Because in-person activity is limited, we hope to promote nonprofits and get to know them a little bit better,” said Julie Tille, director of the Dumke Center. “So when the opportunity comes to engage in person, people can have a better understanding and plug in a little bit easier.”
The centers are working with regulations and doing what they can to engage students in the community while respecting safety precautions.