Campus events, activities go virtual fall quarter in light of COVID-19


Jonathan Aguilar / The DePaulia

Students walk past an inflatable slide during the DePaul Spring Carnival on the Lincoln Park Quad.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reshapes every aspect of the college experience, DePaul students can expect to take part in many traditional events and activities of previous years, but in a different way. 

One of those events is Welcome Week. Normally a week-long, in-person event filled with activities to introduce students to DePaul, this year’s Welcome Week is instead taking place over multiple weeks. Students can participate in over 150 virtual programs including bingo and trivia, and activities that introduce students to other campus resources and services such as DePaul Central and Campus Recreation until Sept. 11.

Teneshia Arnold, the assistant director of programming at the Office of Student Involvement, said the department has received positive feedback from students regarding the virtual events. 

“We’ve had students share how they appreciate us still being able to put together some virtual offerings as quick as we did,” Arnold said. “Another portion of the feedback that we got back was that students appreciate us providing some sense of normalcy for them.”

Beyond Welcome Week, the  Involvement Fair will undergo some changes as well. The event, which allows students to meet with members from a wide variety of DePaul’s student organizations, will take place virtually on Sept. 18 from 11 am to 6 pm. In the past, the event occurred in-person on the Quad. This year, it will be hosted on DeHUB, DePaul’s student engagement platform. 

Arnold said registration is open for student organizations and campus departments to request a booth for the fair and explained how the virtual format will function. 

“Student orgs and campus departments will be able to build their virtual booth where they can include information about their org, update photos, videos [and] you can even include a Zoom link to encourage people to come into Zoom and chat with you in real time,” Arnold said. “We really think that this is going to be a great tool to help students learn about different student orgs on ways to get involved on campus.”

As of Aug. 28, Arnold said 115 groups had registered for the Involvement Fair compared to about 150 groups that registered for the fair in the past when the event was held on the Quad.

“Right now, we’re doing really, really good with registrations and I’m happy that student orgs are looking at this as a way to connect with others,” Arnold said.

As student organizations adapt to connecting with students on a virtual platform, some are expanding their virtual activities from spring quarter when DePaul initially transitioned to remote learning.

DePaul’s Student Government Association made the transition to virtual meetings during the spring and will continue this fall quarter.

“It’s going to be a lot of adapting that same framework that we had to do at the start of spring quarter,” said Arantxa Reyes, SGA’s PR coordinator. “We transitioned to online meetings and that worked pretty well for our group. We were lucky because we already knew each other so we were able to continue that same atmosphere onto Zoom.”

To get students involved in SGA, Reyes said SGA is working to increase its accessibility when connecting with students in a manner similar to the events organized by Student Involvement.

“I know that Student Involvement has done a lot of online events and a lot of getting to know different sectors of the university,” Reyes said. “Also, [we may] just take their lead and [do] an event [about] getting to know SGA for students who haven’t interacted with us on campus and that includes first year students.”

As student organizations and other departments work to interact with students virtually, they are also working to connect with new students at DePaul including incoming freshman and transfer students.

Arnold explained that Student Involvement is using several different methods to reach out to these groups of students.

“We’re utilizing university communications whether that’s the [DePaul] Newsline or the Division of Student Affairs [where] we have a weekly newsletter that goes out,” Arnold said. “We are [also] relying upon our social media platforms where we are pushing a lot of important information out to students.”

Other forms of communication include “connecting with [the Office of] New Student and Family Engagement as they were working with orientation,” and working with individuals within the admission’s office, Arnold said. 

Reyes said SGA members will be responsible for reaching out to new students through their individual networks. 

“I think that responsibility is going to have to fall on us all individually as members and reaching out to our different networks that we sit in within the university,” Reyes said. 

As the quarter progresses, Arnold said Student Involvement is working to “reimagine” in-person events from previous years to adapt them to a virtual format such as Midnight Breakfast, an event where students ate breakfast at midnight in the Student Center and participated in different activities.

“This year, we’re looking at a virtual option of doing Midnight Breakfast in getting people to tune in and cook up some breakfast from their homes,” Arnold said. 

Students can visit DeHUB for more information on upcoming events.