Due to COVID-19, numerous activities had to transi- tion online in order to stay within the regulations regard- ing social distancing. Mercyhurst University has done a great job of attempting to move all the typical Welcome Week activities online so that the freshmen class can still receive the same experiences as the previous classes.
On Aug. 18, Mercyhurst University hosted its first ever Virtual Involvement Fair. The Involvement Fair concluded the New Student Welcome for the Class of 2024, and it is typically held in person.
This year the fair was on a platform called FlipGrid, which allowed students to view videos of board members from each RSCO explaining what their club does, and why freshmen should get involved.
FlipGrid uses videos to educate students throughout the world. From the comfort of their own dorms, students could log on and attend the virtual fair.
Freshman student Megan Kantz, said, “Given the circumstances, the school did a great job in still putting the event on for the students.”
Steph Przepiora, who coordinated the Involvement Fair felt it was a success. “The awesome part about FlipGrid is that it also allows you to include a link right under the video so groups were able to create a sign up sheet for their club to attach.” This meant that students could sign up right after they watched a video, so they did not have to worry about forgetting to sign up for a club later on. The fair can also be accessed throughout the semester, so if a student decides they want to join a club they can still register.
After watching the demo video on how to participate, students could maneuver through all the clubs, grouped by topic.
The topics help students find certain clubs that they could have already been looking for, within the categories of Academic Clubs, Cultural and Diversity Clubs, Recreation and Special Interest Clubs, Service and Honors Clubs and Leadership and Campus Organizations.
For the clubs to participate, their board members had to film a video talking about their club. Board members were encouraged to be as creative as possible.
If students decided they wanted to be a part of the club, they would then proceed to fill out the club form and sign up to receive alerts about upcoming meetings.
This was a new experience for president of both Art Therapy Club and Sexuality and Gender Acceptance Club (SAGA), Kimberly Bennett. “Being over video this year, I had to figure out how to write a script for my club, set up a sign-up sheet online and record and edit my own videos. It was pretty different, because normally for clubs we get to decorate our table with lots of fun things and interact with the new freshmen,” Bennett says.
For students like Bennett who might hold positions in various RSCOs, the virtual fair meant they were not running between tables, but could record different videos for all their different clubs in advance.
Within the first eight days, there were 390 different stu- dents that viewed the page and collectively there were over 405 hours of engagement with the fair. Moreover, there were 78 different clubs that uploaded a video to try and get their fellow students involved.
More RSCOs participated this year than ever before. If students have not checked out the fair yet, they can access it by going to https://flipgrid.com/muinvolvementfair. Students do not have to be freshmen to look at the site or sign up for a club.
If students did not find a club that struck their interest, they can start their own by downloading the RSCO Recognition Packet from the RSCO Hub Page under Campus Involvement Center. All it takes is an advisor, a constitution and some interested peers.