The goal of Stan State's Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) is to keep students involved with the campus community, offer resources to support students, and to spread Warrior pride throughout our campus community. With the campus closure, these goals have become more important than ever.
With COVID-19 causing the campus to move to an online platform, ASI has had to get creative in the way that they serve the campus community.
Tiffany Gulick, ASI Marketing and Assessment Manager, elaborates on the role of ASI. “We want students to get involved and make the most of their college experience. We do that by providing services, events and programs for our students. With COVID that looks a little different, but we are still trying to find ways to get events and services out to students.”
The University Student Center (SC), which is closely tied to ASI, also strives to provide resources to students. Jennifer Galeana-Vasquez, Interim SC Programs and Services Coordinator explains that “Yes, the student center is a facility, but they also offer programs and services.”
One way that SC is supporting students is through a new campaign called “More than a Building”. Galeana-Vasquez explains that the goal of this campaign is to showcase the ways in which the organization can help students in their virtual college experience.
Although we are no longer able to utilize the actual facility, SC is still going to give back to students through sponsorship programs. These programs will provide certain students with laptops and desk supplies.
Galeana-Vasquez says that SC “took initiative in finding what area students needed their assistance with.” This semester, those needs have changed dramatically.
SC and ASI are also continuing to provide experiential opportunities for students.
“There are a lot of opportunities for students to grow their college experience and their student life experience as well as their professional experience by being part of our organizations,” says Galeana-Vasquez.
For new students, Galeana-Vasquez suggests joining the First Year Leadership Experience (FLEx). This program teaches students about ASI and SC and allows them to gain leadership experience while deciding which organization is the best fit for them.
Another organization that students can join is Code Red Entertainment. According to their website, Code Red Entertainment helps students learn how to plan and organize events for the campus community throughout the year. Ordinarily, members would be planning events such as pop up booths in the quad and movie nights. However, with our new virtual format, students in Code Red Entertainment are learning a whole new set of skills.
“Now since it is a virtual setting, we are teaching them what goes into planning a virtual event,” says Galeana-Vasquez. One of the most difficult parts of hosting a virtual event is getting the word out to students.
“A lot of our events we planned to have in the quad during busy times when we are in regular session, but being online things are different. We don’t have Students just running into our events. So we are really being intentional with reaching out to students,” says Gulick.
While all their events will be posted on their website, Gulick explains that ASI and SC mainly reach out to students through their social media. For those who are interested in staying informed about upcoming virtual events or giveaways, follow them here.
For students who are not interested in joining a new organization, ASI offers events that are open to all students as well.
“We actually have a different range of events... we have actual Zoom events and then we also have giveaways or activities that we will leave on our stories or our feed to engage students who don’t really want to go to another Zoom meeting. We’re still trying to find different ways to engage our students so that they still feel connected to campus and connected to other students,” says Galeana-Vasquez.
An example of the types of the events offered is the Wednesday, September 16 Warrior Paint Night. This activity involves mailing students paint kits from Amazon and hosting a virtual paint night on Zoom.
For events that require registration (such as Warrior Paint Night), links to the registration forms can be found here or on the ASI and SC Instagram bio.
With the transition to online, ASI and SC have been doing their best to find innovative ways to get students involved, but they are always open to suggestions on how to improve.
“Give your feedback. Everyone is still learning. We’re trying to do the best that we can as far as putting on events, but definitely if there are types of events that we are not putting out there that students want to see, we want to know about it,” says Gulick adding that feedback can be sent to them through social media or though their email.
Although the transition to a virtual format has been difficult for these organizations, they are still able to find some positives that have come out of the situation.
Galeana-Vasquez comments, "I think one of the biggest pros I've taken from the situation is that we can offer the same events to both Turlock and Stockton students and kind of bring them together, which is really exciting.”
Gulick adds, “There are obviously a lot of challenges with this transition to being online, but I think... it gives us an opportunity to possibly address students who don’t feel comfortable coming into the building on a regular basis.”
By learning how to support students on a virtual format, ASI and SC will be able to continue to provide services to students who are not able to come to campus regularly when the campus is open again.
Although it may feel unfamiliar to attend virtual campus events, Galeana-Vasquez and Gulick encourage students to make an effort to stay involved even while online.
“I definitely think it’s important for students to stay involved. I think it helps them stay connected to the campus. It helps them feel included and a part of the university even though things are not as expected. The biggest message to send to students is ‘this is still your college experience’. It is definitely not what anyone anticipated but really make sure to take advantage of all the programs and services,” says Gulick.
With social distancing creating feelings of isolation, we have to be especially intentional about forming connections.
“Your college experience is what you make it and, especially in this virtual setting, we have to try just a little bit harder to get that connection. There are so many opportunities to get involved, to create connections, to still feel engaged with your campus so definitely take those opportunities and make the most of your time,” says Galeana-Vasquez.
Stan State is not about the physical campus, it is about the people who come together on that campus. Although we may be online; we can still foster the connections that make Stan State an open and engaging place.