Geneva Campus Life Re-engineered during COVID-19 - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Campus Life The College
January 8, 2021

Geneva Campus Life Re-engineered during COVID-19

When the college was forced to move learning online back in March, the staff of Geneva’s Center for Student Engagement (CSE), which facilitates fun activities, offers volunteer opportunities, and brings the campus together, had to adapt quickly. Students had all gone home, pandemic guidelines were in effect, and the normal community building activities could not happen. So, the staff got creative and organized virtual events, like computer game nights, watch parties, and livestreams, so the community could still thrive.

As the spring semester ended, CSE staffers began to think about how the college would come together in the fall. Randon Willard, CSE Director, says their main concern was how to “create spaces for students to connect in and belong to; to find their place here, when their social circles were going to be smaller, when things were going to be more spread out.” Event size restrictions posed a particular challenge to community building, but, despite the odds, Willard says the fall went even better than anticipated.

The long-lasting warm weather was a big help. The temperature hardly dipped below 40oF from August to November, so people were able to gather comfortably outside. Events could be more spaced out and, as a result, accommodate more students than indoor activities. Moving several events online also allowed Geneva’s online learners to participate, and virtual event technologies gave Geneva a chance to safely connect with downtown community members.

For example, students were able to partner with Neighborhood North – a children’s museum in Beaver Falls – to host online bingo games. These activities and others give this extraordinary semester a much-needed sense of normalcy, according to Willard. “People need us to do things that feel normal,” he says. When things go back to being – not just feeling – normal, Willard hopes the current challenges will have strengthened Geneva’s community. “I am also hopeful that out of this,” he says, “there will be renewed pride in Geneva. We'll really just love being together and diving into what that looks like.”

To learn more about campus life and Christian liberal arts education in a vocational context, contact Geneva College Admissions at admissions@geneva.edu or 800-847-8255.

-Kailee Boylan '23
Originally published in Geneva Magazine, Winter 2020.