Weeks of Welcome, opening events go virtual for Fall 2020
With classes starting for the fall semester, departments across the University have organized virtual events for students to meet new people and to learn about their programs.
The College of Education, University Career Services and the UH Staff Council offered remote discussions, panels and resources during the first two weeks of classes.
The events intended to empower and inform both incoming and returning students.
“Our incredible lineup of speakers will bring inspiration and important perspective as we continue to face the dual challenges of the pandemic and racial inequities,” College of Education dean Bob McPherson said.
“We want our students and fellow Houstonians to feel empowered to keep striving to positively impact the world.”
The College of Education hosted a virtual back-to-school event called “First Lecture” on Aug. 21, featuring Houstonians chef Christine Ha, singer Kam Franklin and comedian Bill Santiago.
The guest speakers shared stories about the pandemic, racial struggles and other events that comprise the new normal. This event was held to give students something to look back on for this academic year.
University Career Services held an event called “Black Women in Leadership” on Sept. 2 where five panelists discussed their accomplishments and challenges as people of color in a role where they are responsible to lead.
This panel featured five women: Fran Watson, Deidre Mathis, Dr. Tiffany Bitting, Crystal Brumfield and Cassie Butcher.
Students had the opportunity to learn how to become allies and to connect with the stories being told.
In continuing with tradition, the UH Staff Council held the Cougar First Impressions (CFI) event on Aug. 24 and 25. The event has been held annually since 1998, but was updated to be virtual for Fall 2020.
“Virtual CFI connects students to resources available on campus, UH at Sugar Land and UH at Katy with live breakout rooms in Microsoft Teams addressing key areas students most inquire about during their first week on campus,” the Staff Council said in an email.
Some students think that virtual events provide less potential for engagement with their peers and on-campus organizations.
“I believe virtual Zoom events in general doesn’t make a difference or help students make friends because students have to have physical contact with another student to gain knowledge,” kinesiology freshman Esmeralda Mares said.
“For example, first day of college, students can’t move between tables or booth and talk to people.”