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Thursday, March 30, 2023

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Residence hall social events continue virtually to help students feel less isolated

The Residence Hall Association is continuing to program for residents virtually. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

The Residence Hall Association is continuing to put on virtual programs for residents. | Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

While most students have gone due to the coronavirus outbreak, some remain on campus with little connection to others.

This has prompted the Residence Hall Association to host virtual social programs and meetups almost every day to help students feel less isolated even when they can’t meet others physically.

“Yesterday we had two students hop on a Microsoft Teams chat, which was great because they had a lot to say,” said RHA vice president of programming Ailin Fei. “It’s great to even connect just two residents to each other.”

Fei said the idea came about when she and her adviser were thinking of ideas to still keep residents involved. During the virtual programs, loneliness has been a topic of conversation among residents.

“It makes me feel good that students are able to have that outlet and still be in the real world,” Fei said.

Residents who have moved back home are now mostly isolated from campus life, no longer seeing friends, socializing on campus, or eating at dining halls. This can be a lifestyle shift for students who depend on those parts of college life to motivate themselves to be successful.

RHA hopes to engage these students through virtual programming.

There are several different chats available, including an entertainment chat where students can talk about what they’ve been watching on streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu. There is an academic-based chat to talk about classes, as well as a wellness chat that hosts live yoga and workout sessions.

Informational emails are sent out to residents every day by the RHA adviser Stephanie Hignojos with instructions on how to join the virtual video calls. The chats are welcome to students on and off campus.

Even after the coronavirus pandemic comes to an end, these kinds of online programs could become more commonplace for residents as they allow students to connect with one another from their dorm or house.

“It’s a lot easier to host online programs,” Fei said. “It’s a great way to go to an event without actually getting dressed and going out.”

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