How to stay engaged with student activities from a distance

Media Credit: Camille DeSanto | Assistant Photo Editor

You can browse Engage to find student organizations you might be interested in joining, from pre-professional groups to intramural sports.

There’s one element of the fall semester that’s entirely up to us to figure out: student organizations. 

The digital disruption has paused all in-person student activities, from bake sales to events on the Marvin Center fourth floor, but you’d be surprised at the number of groups that are staying strong with an online presence. Don’t wait until you’re physically on campus to find an organization you like – you could be a Zoom meeting away from finding your college friends. 

Explore GW Engage 

GW Engage – a website that lists registered student organizations and details student affairs announcements and events – is your go-to space for finding your niche. 

Among other services, Engage allows students to discover and join new student groups, learn about upcoming events, document their organization memberships and pay certain groups’ membership fees. You can also find an organization’s leadership contact information if you want to set up a virtual coffee date and learn more about the group. 

Attend the virtual student organization fair

You can bounce around to virtual tables at the student organization fair, which will be held on Engage this year from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sept. 5 and 6 and from 3 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 13.

Each student organization will sign up for a time slot and sit in an online meeting or chatbox, according to the event description. You can message in the chatbox or tune into their meeting to learn more about each organization and what they’re planning for the fall. Sororities and fraternities are following the same format at a similar event on Sept. 13. 

Follow social media accounts 

Most student organizations are hyperactive on social media to keep in touch with their members and post a lot of forms and events on their accounts. A simple scroll, swipe or tap on your phone will grant you access to executive board applications and prestigious alumni networks. 

If you’re looking to generally keep up to date with student life, follow the Instagram page @studentlifeatgw, which posts information about how organizations can operate during the pandemic and lets you know about online events. You can also follow organizations like the Student Association (@gwstudents_), Black Student Union (@gwubsu) and Students Against Sexual Assault (@gwsasa) – whichever piques your interest. 

Subscribe to newsletters

Another way to learn about or commit to an organization is by subscribing to their respective newsletters, which provide information about groups’ upcoming events and opportunities. 

For example, the Black Women’s Forum links to a newsletter sign-up form on its Instagram page. GW Pitches, a female a capella group, encourages prospective members to subscribe to its biannual newsletter on its website

Sign up for a few newsletters to get a better sense of the organization’s activities and general culture. Its newsletters can give you a glimpse of what its members have achieved through their organization and help you decide whether you’d like to stay involved throughout your GW career. 

Attend virtual meetings 

It may feel awkward at first, but you should tune in to virtual meetings to get to know members of the organizations you’re interested in joining. You might like a group at face value, but you’ll never know if you click with the organization until you meet them.

Before joining a potential Zoom session, it would be helpful for students to prepare questions to ask the person presiding over the meeting. These inquiries might address anything from remote responsibilities to pandemic-proof festivities. That way, members can better engage with each other and endure less uncomfortable pauses between topics. 

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