CCAC Student Life creates online programs

Rebekah Waldron, North Campus Editor

As the spread of COVID-19 continues to cancel events, CCAC Student Life offices have found ways to keep their students connected and the party going.

“As soon as we knew we were going remote, the Student Life team recognized that, more than ever, students needed to feel connected,” says Roberto Velella, a student life coordinator at North campus. “Our online programming has all been planned with that goal in mind.”

Student Life has taken on the task of learning and mastering Zoom’s programming in order to keep some sort of face-to-face contact between students. This has included things like Lunch Bunch, drawing competitions, and holding regular meetings for the student organizations. 

“We’ve been hosting Virtual Lunch Bunch every Monday at 11:30 a.m., and we’re talking about maybe doing that even throughout the summer,” says Velella. “Every Thursday we have an online activity too, but we’ll bounce around all over the calendar to try to accommodate as many people and schedules as possible – just like we’d do on campus.”

The sudden halt of interaction has left many students feeling lost or depressed. “I was vice president of SGA, a leader in the Creative Arts Club, and a contributor to The Voice. I had places that I felt I belonged and could see the good that I did,” says CCAC student David Heilman. “Now everything is remote. It all feels empty.” 

The continuation of these student life events has provided some sort of normalcy for the student body and allows for mental and emotional support that many students would otherwise be lacking without the structure they had from being able to come to campus every week.

“”I like all the events we’ve been able to have,” says Zoom attendee regular and CCAC student, Victoria Burdelski. “Trying to keep us all connected is one of the best ways for all of us to get through this.” As the students continue to look for ways to cope with the changing times, Student Life continues to provide the support they always have.

“Some student organizations are still meeting regularly and making it work. Student Government, for example, has been meeting diligently every Tuesday. For other groups, it’s been a struggle and I totally understand,” says Velella. “It’s not even about having the time, it’s about having the stamina amid all the rapidly-changing chaos.”

Prior to the remote switch, CCAC Student Life had worked more independently and focused on each campus separately. Now, with the remote switch, there’s been more connections built between the different campuses and centers. “I’ve been working more closely with Student Life staff at other CCAC campuses than ever before! In a lot of ways, going remote has removed a lot of the physical barriers – like geography – and, obviously, forced us to communicate in new ways,” says Velella. 

The remote switch left many other students across the country with similar feelings. Some schools have put in similar efforts as CCAC’s Student Life to keep things running and connected. Other schools, like Penn State University, have students who are taking that initiative into their own hands. “Competitive Cyber Security Organization has pretty much been running our own thing,” says student treasurer Evan Eastwood. “We do cybersecurity competitions across the country as well as training and education.” Penn State has supposedly allotted some server resources for Zoom meetings, but most clubs are standing things up with their own resources.”

CCAC Student Life remains focused on their goal of keeping students connected and engaged even through these distant times. “We want to continue supporting our students – emotionally, academically, mentally, just as always. The end of this semester is going to be tough,” says Velella. “Students should always know they can reach out to anyone at CCAC, any office, and let us know how we can help.”