SRU campaign encourages student activity and engagement
Slippery Rock University students can prevent the spread of COVID-19 while still finding activities to do on-campus, off-campus and virtually thanks to a list compiled by the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership.
Oct. 2, 2020
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — Having a "can-do" attitude can be difficult for people who are continually reminded of all the things they can't do, especially while social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. From social gatherings and awards dinners to sporting events and concerts, the list of "no-nos" goes on and on. However, a group at Slippery Rock University is making another list that may just change students' perspectives.
SRU's Office of Student Engagement and Leadership has started a campaign with a published list titled "Things Students CAN Do During COVID." This list, shared online and through campus flyers, names things like on-campus recreation, off-campus destinations or virtual activities, such as attending an online career fair.
"In efforts to change the narrative, and better assist students in making connections and feeling a sense of belonging, we have developed a list that includes activities students can do on-campus, off-campus and virtually," said Lauren Moran, director of student engagement and leadership. "We felt it was important to do this because many students have expressed feelings of loneliness, not being able to find a connection or feeling lost in this new college environment."
Ken Messina, associate professor of counseling and development and director of SRU's Student Counseling Center, recognizes the mental and emotional importance of having a can-do attitude.
"Focusing on action helps us to not feel stuck in hopelessness," Messina said. "If we focus on all the negatives, we're going to feel more negative, but if we focus on what we can do and what actions we can take, that's going to help us feel more positive and as if we have more control of our situation. One of the biggest things with the pandemic and being isolated is we're always being told what we can't do. If we think about what we can do, that shifts our brains into a much more positive focus."
The SCC provides confidential counseling aimed at helping students to succeed academically and interpersonally. Messina said it's difficult to compare any increases in the number of students seeking counseling since the start of the pandemic because not as many students are on campus. However, the SCC does offer virtual counseling via Zoom, including a weekly COVID Support Group, which helps students affected by a wide range of issues related to isolation and the pandemic.
"We're still seeing a lot of the same anxiety and depression that we saw pre-COVID, but a lot of the traditional ways of coping have been cut off from students," Messina said. "We're seeing a lot of students who are really just missing those social connections and are feeling really lonely."
Laura Shope stand-up
Moraine State Park
Laura Shope, a senior theater major from Venetia, is an example of a student who is taking a can-do approach to the college experience. She's taken up hobbies that include yoga and opportunities through SRU Campus Recreation's Outdoor Adventure Program. She participated in a stand-up paddleboard program where SRU students go to Moraine State Park and learn the water sport that combines the physical aspects of surfing, kayaking and skateboarding. Shope discovered the opportunity among others on CORE, SRU's online platform for student organizations and activities.
"I was just scrolling through CORE looking for things to do and I saw stand-up paddleboarding," Shope said. "I didn't have anything going on during the time they were offering it so I thought it would be fun. It was really nice to see people beyond my circle of close friends. It's been really positive because it's something for students to do besides sit in their apartment or dorm and do schoolwork all day."
As a student facilitator for Campus Recreation's high ropes course, Shope sees the benefits of these opportunities and to take an active role in campus life, even during the pandemic. Shope is also president of the Music Theatre Society, which is a student organization that is planning virtual events to replace in-person, on-stage performances.
"As college students, you have access to all kinds of opportunities," Shope said. "And it feels good to be active and try new things. (I'd advise students) to check out opportunities on CORE because organizations are trying to reach people there even more than they have before. Also, ask your friends what they are doing and try to pick up a new hobby and make the most of your time as college students."
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