Digital events keep the Ramapo community connected

Photo courtesy of the Office of Marketing & Communications, Ramapo College of New Jersey

As the Ramapo community adjusts to its new normal, many of the campus’ organizations have taken it upon themselves to make digital adaptations of their events. Clubs and offices on campus are using social media, web chats and browser applications to engage students in the events they would usually enjoy.

“I’ve been texting my friends and people in general to make up for the fact that I don’t see them on the daily anymore,” said Tracy Gorab, a junior at Ramapo. “Communicating with others through video chats does definitely help to raise my mood.”

Keeping up the regular events of college life was important for students to feel connected. It was unclear at first how digital events would function, but groups quickly began finding their own unique and appropriate ways to reach students at home. 

Ramapo’s Relay for Life all night event is one of the biggest events for the school each year, and finding a way to translate this digitally took some creativity. Instead of filling the Bradley enter all night, students will be able to join in on Facebook to participate in challenges and watch speeches.

“It was definitely an odd transition at first,” said Victoria Piatti, Vice President of Colleges Against Cancer. “However, through a lot of creativity and hard work, we decided to still have Relay on the scheduled date, this Friday the 17. We will still honor our survivors, those still fighting, and those who have unfortunately lost their lives. We made a whole week out of it with fun challenges, activities and videos.”

Other organizations like the College Programming Board have continued to host a variety of interactive social media events. Using Instagram stories, they’ve held brackets and competitions for students to enter their pets, talent and art in. The amount of submissions each event gets shows how students are still seeking school involvement to have fun at home.

CPB has also taken advantage of online servers like Netflix Party, a browser extension which allows participants to synchronously watch a show or movie, and Kahoot to have events which occur at one time rather than over a series of days.

“We thought the easiest way to engage students would be giving them the opportunity to be more involved in the event such as sending us pictures and videos so other students can vote on the content,” said Cheyenne Shannon of the College Programming Board.

Other organizations, like Greek life, have found inventive ways to keep their members close and involved. Alpha Phi Omega, the co-ed service fraternity, has made it possible for their members to continue doing community service from the safety of their own home.

“Despite the pandemic, we were able to find ways to still participate in values central to our organization,” said Monika Weglarz, APO’s Vice President of Service. “This also gave light to the sources online that can be utilized by the time we go back to school in September.”

Staying engaged with the organizations students love is important in this time to maintain a sense of normalcy, but also a sense of community. While Ramapo would usually have a packed schedule of events for different months of celebration, students can now show their support from afar.

“It’s cool to see the opportunities you can have to help out while still being in the comforts of your home,” said Autumn Laird, a sophomore at Ramapo. “I do miss things face to face, but still being able to help out while at home is great!”

The Office of Violence Prevention is hosting a campaign on Instagram for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. They have hosted the “I Ask” campaign to share different ways students get consent, and they are currently hosting the Virtual Clothesline Project. This project would usually be an installation of shirts with messages for and from survivors, but roadrunners at home can submit their shirt or correlating artwork to the OVP Instagram in lieu of the physical event.

Keeping students connected is especially important for their mental health, to remind them that though they are isolated, they are not alone. Having a fun event to compete in or just spend time with other students can make a world of difference by stepping away from the stress of everyday life. 

Outside social connection, it is important that students are staying involved with academics and leadership. Virtual events like the Student Leadership Awards, the Honors Program Virtual Symposium and Student Employee of the Year help students to still feel they are moving forward in their college career.

“As a senior, I was disappointed that I would have to miss events like these, which are important towards recognizing the immense work done by students day in and day out,” said Caleb Herst, Student Government Association President. “I am glad that Ramapo has found a way to preserve some of that acknowledgment in a virtual setting.”