While gatherings of 10 or more are greatly discouraged due to COVID-19 concerns, ASU groups are working to maintain a sense of closeness among the University community by hosting a number of events to bring students together while they are stuck learning from home.
The Programming and Activities Board, Undergraduate Student Government and the Sun Devil Fitness Complex are among the many on-campus organizations striving to maintain their missions while creating fresh ways for students to connect through online events.
On-campus events can encourage student participation and growth of the community by being physically accessible to students. The events offer students giveaways, food and live activities to help students get involved. Now, student organizations are being challenged to think outside the box.
“The biggest challenge we currently face includes trying to bring together a community of hundreds of ASU students who are spread across the globe, via virtual event programming,” Averi Norman, the Downtown Phoenix campus' PAB director of spirit, pride and tradition and a freshman studying kinesiology, said in an email.
ASU students can expect a steady stream of new online events for the rest of the semester.
“Our goal for the rest of the semester is to program virtual events that spark as much interest within ASU students as our past events, as well as offer innovative incentives and programs that ASU students can’t find anywhere else,” Norman said.
PAB is working on a series of online events for students.
Karen Stepanek, the direct adviser for PAB on the Downtown Phoenix campus, said in an email that students are brainstorming ideas such as virtual tea time, a maroon Monday Instagram takeover, virtual hypnotism, caricature drawings, magicians, mind readers and online scavenger hunts.
Stepanek confirmed that PAB will host a magic show, Netflix watch parties and game nights throughout the month of April.
The biggest challenge involved with putting on online events is getting the word out to students, she said.
“I think it's more important than ever to have events that students can partake in because there’s not as much to do, and students are having to isolate themselves by social distancing,” Christopher Weddigen, a member of the Downtown Phoenix campus' PAB and a public service and public policy freshman, said.
USG members are also working to provide students with events to boost school spirit.
“Students can expect a lot,” Karenna Sandoval, the external affairs committee chair of Undergraduate Student Government Downtown and a medical studies freshman, said. “We are really trying to emphasize the technology we have.”
USG is working on creating Kahoot events, virtual tabling and virtual dinners. Other events include virtual forums and discussions on COVID-19 and other campus updates.
“It's mostly about continuing student engagement and student involvement,” Sandoval said.
All USG meetings are open to the public. Students can find schedules for the meetings and access Zoom links on the website each USG campus according to Renuka Vemuri, USGD Senate president and a sophomore studying medical studies.
"Transparency is very important to us, we really want to take the opportunity to engage as many students as possible," Vemuri said.
The upcoming USGD elections will also take place online on April 14 and 15, according to an Instagram post.
The SDFC is offering a series of fitness and wellness programs for students.
“Sun Devil Fitness is pleased to provide a wide array of resources, services and opportunities to support students in their commitment to health and well-being and remaining connected during this time of social distancing,” Courtney Spivak Smith, the associate director of the SDFC in downtown Phoenix, said in an email.
“Just because we aren’t all on campus, doesn’t mean we quit being a community,” Norman said. “Especially with the closure of lots of other entertainment options, virtual events are innovative ways to stay involved and give ASU students something entertaining to participate in as well as look forward to.”