Student Life When Students Aren’t on Campus

Posted by Monica Hoel
Josh von Castle (E&H ’07) shares what Emory & Henry is doing to keep students engaged during these unusual times.

As soon as it began to look like students at Emory & Henry were going to have to finish classes remotely, the E&H McPherson Center staff, which includes Housing & Residence Life, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Intramural Sports, and Student Activities, got cracking on some creative plans.

In no time, the McPherson Center staff were ready with a host of new ideas. After adapting an existing academic platform to serve as a remote student engagement hub called “The Hangout,” programming began to be delivered to students. The most recent programs have included online trivia nights and bingo games. Additional interactive programming includes competitions like E-Sports tournaments, during which students compete in popular gaming platforms, a “Then & Now Challenge,” during which students recreate childhood photos, and a “Fort Challenge,” during which students design a blanket fort at home and submit pictures. All prizes are ordered and shipped to the student’s home address. They’ve solicited high-profile alumni to create videos of encouragement to share with students. A new podcast series featuring faculty interviews will offer advice on a variety of topics. Students also receive tips for how to make the best of their remote class situation. For example, this week’s flyer recommended: “Do your class work during normal seated class time.”  In the coming weeks, the McPherson Center staff will host a scavenger hunt where you find a common household item, post a picture, and that will take you to the next clue. And there will soon be a lip-sync battle with extra points for creativity: at least one McPherson Center staffer is planning to have his cats be his back-up singers.

Since the McPherson Center staff members are also working remotely, it is no small challenge to create new initiatives to keep students engaged, productive, happy, and connected. But Josh von Castle (E&H Class of 2007), Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Housing & Residence Life, says student life programming is more important now than ever. “Students are feeling isolated, they miss seeing their E&H friends and faculty members in person, the news is constantly scary, and many are dealing with  stressful family situations. We’re providing some opportunities to relieve a little stress and help students cope with everything that is going on.”

Additionally, students are involved in the planning. “This is giving some of our students some great leadership experience as well as a chance to work through the nuances of remote engagement.”

Josh says events have been well-received and gives credit to his staff, Samantha Amos (Area Coordinator & Greek Life Specialist and Dylan Johnson (E&H Class of 2015 and Area Coordinator & Intramural Sports Specialist) for really putting the energy behind this programming.  “Everyone has been working so hard, and the students really seem to appreciate it. They’re so happy to see familiar E&H faces.  I’ve seen a lot of tears….happy tears. Our students are just so glad to reconnect.”

  • Wiley Hall
    Wiley Hall
“Our students are just so glad to reconnect.”
Josh von Castle
E&H Class of 2007

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