Student organizations stay connected with members virtually

On-campus organizations make adjustments to keep the student body connected online. Collegian File Photo.

SOPHIE CIOKAJLO | STAFF REPORTER | sciokajl@butler.edu

Student organizations at Butler have had to adjust to classes and meetings being canceled for the rest of the semester. Every aspect of life on Butler’s campus is changing, but some organizations are trying to maintain as much support for their members as possible. 

SGA president Malin Peterson said students need to maintain a sense of community now more than ever. SGA is looking for ways to engage not just SGA members, but the larger Butler community as well. 

“It’s also important to recognize that this is a difficult time for students and this crisis can weigh heavily on mental health too,” Peterson, a senior youth and community development major, said.  “So just finding ways that we can help students feel that connection with the rest of their campus even though they’re not in the same space with them.”

Peterson said SGA is trying to remain as engaged with the student community as possible, continuing programming over social media outlets. 

Elizabeth Wang, director of programming for SGA, said most of SGA’s programming is now occurring over its social media platforms, such as on its Instagram and Twitter accounts. Wang, a senior health sciences major, also said that SGA’s website is staying up to date and that student concerns submitted over the website are still being monitored.

Peterson said that SGA is currently working with university administration to create a social media campaign in which administrators from Butler will share their stories from quarantine and express their care for the student community. 

“It’s just finding those niche little things we can do for students that can really serve them and help them remember that they’re not alone in this and that we still have a campus, that we are still a big community,” Peterson said. 

For Butler’s Diversity Center, Gina Forrest, the executive director for diversity, equity and inclusion, shared a need to provide a sense of community for students. Forrest is engaging students on her own social media platforms with daily writing prompts centering on diversity, equity and inclusion . 

“Hopefully I can get some students to follow me there to do those writing prompts to hopefully just express some of those feelings that you might be having,” Forrest said. “Just any way that we can increase your emotional health, your spiritual health, just to make you feel a part of that community, even though it’s an online community.”

Forrest has also been engaging with students via virtual independent meetings.  

“You can pop in and see me this way as well,” Forrest said. “I still want to be that support for students, whether that is they need a resource or they just need someone to just talk to for that moment.”

The Center for Faith and Vocation is also hosting individual spiritual care sessions, which students can sign up for through an online form. CFV director Daniel Meyers said these meetings can relate to anything students need, but that he wants the center to continue to be a resource to help students navigate big questions. 

“It’s a very destabilizing time and any time you’re uncertain it’s hard to make plans and to think about the future, and what we do a lot in regular times is help students think about that stuff,” Meyers said. “We have some tools to help folks navigate uncertainty and to be decisive in uncertain times and to also be comfortable with waiting and sitting. Those are things we do a lot of.”

Meyers also highlighted work done by each of the student organizations led by the CFV. He said organizations like Cru, Orthodox Christian Fellowship, the Butler Catholic Community, and BU Hillel are engaging in virtual bible studies or live-streaming religious services. The Muslim Student Association will be creating a video montage about student experiences growing up with Ramadan as a replacement for a planned on-campus event. 

“I have been super impressed and encouraged seeing how adaptable the communities are and also how much it’s uniquely related to what each community needs to do,” Meyers said. 

The CFV will be hosting an online campaign focused on helping seniors prepare for life after college. Meyers said this program was supposed to be in-person on campus, but the CFV has now had to adjust to a social media campaign. 

Meyers is also hosting weekly Zoom calls with students on various topics related to the CFV. 

“There’s the religious community side and the way that religion and secular-life relate to these huge upheavals,” Meyers said, “but then there’s also the very practical side of trying to be a resource of support for students who are just trying to figure out what all of this means and how to get the next internship or what it means after graduation or what it means in their families’ economic situation is different and maybe some of the things they wanted to do look different.”

Roua Daas, president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said she considers student organizations an important part of maintaining continuity and normalcy in the student experience during this time. 

“It is especially important during this time of uncertainty because student organizations, for those that are involved in them, are a really big part of the student experience,” Daas said. “For people that are on exec boards, on SGA, on the Collegian, whatever extracurricular activity it might be, students feel really invested in it and at a time where students feel everything has been taken away from them — their friends, their regular education, their professors — it’s important to have that kind of stability and continuity.”

Daas said that SJP is moving to online activism and is continuing to engage students through new educational campaigns via social media platforms.

Meyers said the CFV, along with every other organization on campus, is struggling to know exactly how to handle this new reality.  He said maintaining support for students is still most important.

“We, like everyone else, are trying to figure out the best way to meet student needs and what I find interesting about this time and also difficult is that people are all over the place and it changes day to day,” Meyers said. “How to be supportive in such a dynamic and changing space is challenging.”

To connect with any of the resources and organizations identified above see below:

Dr. Forrest’s Instagram and Twitter: @drginaforrest 

Diversity Center Instagram: @butlerdiversity  

Student Organizations in the Diversity Center Instagram Accounts

  1.     APIA Asian and Pacific Islander Association: apia_bu
  2.     GEM Gender Equity Movement: gematbutler
  3.     BSU Black Student Union: butleru_bsu
  4.     SJP Students for Justice in Palestine: sjpbutler_ ; email: sjp@butler.edu)
  5.     Alliance: butleralliance
  6.     LU Latinos Unidos: bu_latinosunidos

SGA Instagram: butlersga

SGA website: sga.butler.edu

CFV Resources: 

Spiritual care conversation form: Spiritual Care Conversations

Sign up for the CFV’s email newsletter: cfv@butler.edu

Cru Instagram

Hillel Instagram

Butler Catholic Community Instagram

Muslim Student Association Instagram

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