Campus events transition to online due to pandemic

Faculty, staff and organizations are hosting events virtually

Emily Flamme and Jared Penna

Faculty, staff and student organizations at Quinnipiac University are all transitioning events online in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have to maintain a student experience,” said Lucy Diaz, director of special events.  “College doesn’t just go away because this pandemic happened. We need to be creative and think outside of the box and figure out how we can reach out to people. And the blessing in that is technology.”

Dean of the School of Communications Chris Roush said that he and the staff within the School of Communications are reaching out to students to see what their concerns and fears are in hopes of easing the transition to remote learning.

“We’re doing a video every Thursday and sending it out on social media that is addressed directly to the students,” Roush said. “The one last week was on mental and physical well-being, the one we’re taping today is on internships and doing your internship remotely. And then the one next Thursday, we’re asking students to send in short video clips of them in their favorite sports jersey and why it’s their favorite sports jersey.”

Roush has also been making himself available to students on a personal level. On Thursday, April 9, Roush held a Zoom meeting open to all juniors in the School of Communications. The week before he met with the seniors, and in the following weeks he plans to meet with sophomores and first-year students.

The Virtual Quad is providing students with a safe space to access information about upcoming events hosted by Quinnipiac.

In addition to Roush’s work, others in the School of Communications have been making efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy for students. Lila Carney, director of career development in the School of Communications, transitioned the annual ComCon event to a virtual platform due to the absence of students on campus.

“I thought for safety purposes, for everyone, it would probably just be better to have it as a virtual event this year,” Carney said. “Students still need to think about their professional careers … and they need to continue to work (on that) even though we’re stuck in our houses, and we have the technology to do it.”

Carney estimates that between 200 and 250 students attended virtual sessions, which is on par with attendance from years past.

“It gives students something else to focus on besides we’re home and stuck in our houses because of this scary thing going on,” Carney said. “It gives them something else to think about, to focus on, and that is a way to better themselves and better their resumes and better their chances to get jobs and be prepared for their careers.”

In terms of reaching the broader Quinnipiac community, Diaz has been working with her team to find ways to engage and continue providing experiences for the student body. Some events have shifted online, some were cancelled altogether and others have been created specifically for the current circumstances.

The biggest project underway right now is the virtual quad, which can be accessed at The virtual quad was created to communicate to students about upcoming events that Quinnipiac is hosting for students.

One event Diaz plans to host soon is a virtual 5k race for the entire Quinnipiac community; students, faculty, staff, alumni and even families. Diaz is coordinating with John Somers, coordinator of campus life for recreation, to make the event accessible to as many community members as possible.

“We’ve designed it in a way that you can run it or walk it at your own pace, and it’s going to be over this two day period, April 18-19,” Diaz said. “We really want to try to make it accessible to everyone, and then there will be prizes for people, like the top finishers in all the different categories. We’re trying to make it as much like a 5k as we can.”

Students are doing their part to maintain a sense of normalcy during this time as well. Jamien Jean-Baptiste, vice president for public relations for the Student Government Association (SGA), said the executive board unanimously decided to continue performing their duties remotely.

The Virtual Quad lists events days in advance to minimize the chance that students don’t hear of an event before it takes place.

“In compliance with our mission statement, SGA must be the voice for the student body especially during this time of concern,” Jean-Baptiste said. “I can’t begin to imagine what things would be like if students felt they couldn’t voice their concerns to their advocates. The most important part about our position is the fact that we are students too. We empathize because we are experiencing the same things as students.”

The organization has continued sending out surveys to the student body, hosting town halls and other events such as “Ask Away.” SGA will still hold elections for the new executive board for the upcoming fall semester.

“I am very excited to take on the creative challenge of engaging students in an online election with my committee,” Jean-Baptiste said. “Since we are only having our executive board elections, I want to believe that we will have a higher voter turnout and less abstains on the ballot this year. With that being said, this is the first time anything like this has happened so this will definitely be a learning experience.”

Although SGA members are able to continue most of their roles virtually, the association postponed general board elections to the fall.

“Typically we only hold elections to fill the seats of our freshmen cabinet and our advertising is focused towards engaging freshmen,” Jean-Baptiste said. “With these conditions we won’t have to filter our recruitment methods and we can look at all the classes to join SGA.”

The transition to virtual learning and events was abrupt, but faculty, staff and students have come together to make it as seamless as possible.

“We’re still part of the same community, we’re still bobcat nation even though we’re in this really bizarre and scary and stressful time,” Diaz said. “It’s important for us to really remember that we’re still all part of the Quinnipiac community and we still have opportunities to learn together, to interact with each other and to celebrate. Because there are still good things that are happening even though they’re happening despite all the physical distance that we’re experiencing.”