Engaging the virtual world on campus

Nidia Torres, Staff Reporter

With CWU enforcing safety restrictions and guidelines across campus for students, staff and faculty, the opportunity to attend campus events has greatly decreased. The pandemic has changed the course of how CWU will have events for students to participate in and mingle.

However, while it is true that public events have been altered to maintain the safety of everyone, CWU has entertained students by hosting virtual events to accommodate students to any and all events and activities.

Avery Cortinaz, the special events coordinator for Campus Activities, is in charge of programming events for students. She has helped coordinate a number of events students may be familiar with, such as Family Weekend, Boo Central and Homecoming Week.

With everything shifting to online, Cortinaz said that this experience is different than what she is originally used to.

“Spring quarter [2020] was definitely challenging because we had never done it before, and everybody was still getting used to being remote and online,” Cortinaz said. “Ever since then, the virtual event planning has progressed positively, and more students have attended virtual events.”

According to engagement data provided by Robbi Goninan, assistant director of campus activities, 47 events were held in fall 2020, both virtually and in-person.

In the events Campus Activities have hosted, they’ve had over 1,300 views for the Fall Concert Series, 79 student participants in the virtual trivia, 45 student participants in virtual Drag Bingo, 41 accounted vehicles for the Drive-in Movie event, and 185 students, staff and alumni participants for the Homecoming 2020 event.

“I think when you’re in person, it’s a lot easier to live in the moment so to speak, whereas virtually, it’s kind of easier to be more comfortable in your space,” Crossland said.

Digital journalism major Laynie Erickson, a sophomore, is experiencing a different side to CWU than what she used to experience as a freshman. Erickson admires how event coordinators continue to set up events for students to enjoy.

“I have a lot of freshman friends that are on the volleyball team that haven’t got to experience the same freshman year that I did last year, like going to these events, even staying at dorms,” Erickson said.

With these virtual events, Erickson believes the flexibility and accessibility is ideal for busy students.

“As a student athlete, I’m super busy, so virtual events give me time, like if I’m at home and I don’t have the time to make it there, I could always zoom in,” Erickson said.

Yana Crossland, the president of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), enjoys attending virtual events.

She said she believes holding these events virtually gives students an opportunity to still socialize and engage with one another. 

While Crossland does miss having one-on-one interaction with friends in person, she said virtual events can still provide students a way to have fun.

As part of the RHA and NRHH event coordinators, Crossland encourages students to give virtual events a chance at reconnecting with others and socializing.

“Find events that are interesting to you. You don’t have to just go to an event just to go to one,” Crossland said. “Find something that sticks out to you and is interesting because at the end of the day, it’s your free time and you want to spend it doing something that’s enriching.”