by Karina Aguilar / Staff Reporter
With Roosevelt University switching to mostly online classes for the fall semester, it’s no surprise that clubs and organizations have turned to virtual activities as well.
However, students are feeling mixed when it comes to the virtual events .
“I’ve been hesitant to attend virtual events since I’ve been home because my sense of ‘community’ is fulfilled by my family members and friends at home. I need to get out of the house instead of spending more hours in my bedroom on zoom,” said Grace Koeppen, a junior integrated marketing communications major. “I only seeked out events when I lived on campus as an excuse to get out of my dorm and socialize.”
While some may students prefer to go outdoors, others said they appreciate the connections they are able to form with new people during the events since there are plenty of ways to communicate with one another on zoom.
“You can also attend events from all around the world and therefore meet people from all over as well,” explained Sophia Gallo, a junior sociology major. “My favorite part is probably the chat feature too. It’s a little less intimidating to contribute like that.”
Students like Gallo said they believe that the features zoom offers, such as the chat feature, provides a good opportunity for people to participate that are otherwise nervous to engage with others during events.
“Virtual events are accessible! If you need to show up a bit late or leave early, it’s easy to do so without causing interruption,” said Gallo. “Lots of the time they even offer recordings of the events afterwards, which is great if you can’t make it.”
While there are a few benefits to virtual events, some students said they find them to be very taxing.
“It’s exhausting to attend classes online, complete assignments online and, for me at least, work online,” said Dyanna Tello, a junior finance major ”After spending so much time staring at a computer for 2.5 hour classes, attending virtual events seems draining.”
Zoom exhaustion is a very real experience for students like Tello. Most event organizers are very aware of this reality and work very hard to make the events as engaging and worthwhile for students.
“It’s understandable that students don’t want to join an event and sit in front of their computer for an additional hour, on top of their five or six classes they might be taking,” explained Jazlyne Alvarado, a business management major and Roosevelt University’s collaboration and outreach coordinator for the student programming for enrichment, enlightenment, and development (SPEED). “It can take a toll on you. But we do promise our events are fun and worth your time. I think students should just give it a chance!”
Another potential downfall in the eyes of some students are all of the technical difficulties that come with using online formats.
“I watched a movie with friends once over zoom but it was so laggy that none of us enjoyed it,” stated Koeppen. “Zoom doesn’t allow for multiple conversations and the lag is awful, so I choose to spend as little time as possible on it.”
Even though virtual events may not be ideal for some students, others have observed that the people involved can change the trajectory of the event.
“The success relies heavily on the attendees and their enthusiasm about the event, so it’s hit or miss and hard to predict,” said Kennedy Gale, a sophomore biology major.
Another factor to take into consideration when it comes to the success of a virtual event is the marketing that goes with it.
“I think the main thing I can say to improve the events is to post on more socials to get it out there,” said Christina Snee, a sophomore psychology major, “I feel like every event I liked and would go to is already over by the time I see it.”
In addition to marketing for events, another way to make events more accessible to students that do not like zoom is to have a mixture of in person and virtual events if possible.
SPEED has figured out a way to put on a number of events that do have an in person portion to it and is also Covid-friendly.
“We have had a mixture of in person and virtual. But for the in person events, it’s more of a grab and go,” said Alvarado. “For example, we had our Build-a-Bear event. They were already packaged with the stuffing and you were able to pick your bear and stuff it at home.”
The overall satisfaction when it comes to virtual events are quite mixed. Although not all students are excited to attend more events online, some like Gallo still feel like it is important to continue to offer these events to students.
“I really like events where you’re being led through an activity you can participate in from home,” said Gallo. “I attended a virtual life drawing class that was hosted in the UK that was so fun and cool because it didn’t feel much different than if it were in person and I was able to connect with new people.”