Kincart: COVID-19 Doesn’t Excuse Being Uninvolved

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Abu Asib

Students at the University of Utah are following the COVID-19 guidelines by wearing masks while working on campus (Photo by Abu Asib | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sydney Kincart, Opinion Writer

 

As we approach the end of a stressful semester, it’s important for students to find a community on campus. And it’s even more important during the pandemic. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, campus organizations have made adjustments to preserve students’ health. The University of Utah has over 550 recognized student organizations that range from pre-professional clubs to music groups to baking clubs. The U is home to clubs focusing on the environment, leadership, service, Greek life, activism, language, music and so much more. The benefits of student involvement are even greater during these trying times and despite the difficult circumstances this semester, students should get involved on campus.

In a normal year, students get involved to enhance their campus experience not just socially, but also academically. Students who are involved in campus activities are shown to have higher test scores, better attendance, better grades and a more developed self-concept. Activities give students a way to develop skills that are sought after by future employers and students can also gain leadership experience before graduating. Social involvement is not only good for our health but also helps us form a network that will boost us professionally while developing personal passions and interests. Every student knows how draining studying can be. There’s no better way to take a break from studying than spending time deepening our own individual and personal interests through campus extracurriculars.

On top of all this, campus involvement this year is even more important because of the pandemic. Being involved on campus helps students build a community when typical avenues are closed. A network of peers with similar interests acts as a support system during such emotionally trying times, and because students are facing more mental health challenges during the pandemic, this community is essential. Having a community of people to connect with can help to compliment the mental health resources already available to students at the U. We all need to be there for each other this year and campus involvement will help us find the support we seek.

Navigating a pandemic is new territory for all universities, so student input is immensely important. The University of Utah has plenty of committees for students to voice their thoughts on university operations during the pandemic. Students can learn more about these committees and apply by clicking this link. As students dealing with the hardships of the pandemic, our first-hand experiences are unmatched by the university’s administration. We have a unique voice and perspective that need to be shared in order for university operations to be improved.

The pandemic uprooted our lives — we had no choice but to adapt. However, involvement maintains a sense of normalcy that is crucial to getting through these difficult circumstances. Getting involved on campus, albeit virtually, gives us a chance to be in control and find some regularity despite these unprecedented times.

We are fortunate to be a part of such a tech-savvy generation. We are no strangers to maintaining social connections online and we know how to make friends online. In fact, 59% of teens video chat with their friends, and this source of communication remains constant during the pandemic. Our generation is more equipped than older generations to handle this transition to online involvement. In my experience at the U, most of my extracurricular activities are being conducted via Zoom — where I am still able to chat with members and have valuable social interactions, and I can still wear my pajamas from the comfort of my room. This also means that students are able to meet with an online organization while watching siblings or tending to other needs at home. There’s a real convenience when it comes to participating in activities online, including reduced transportation requirements.

Most importantly, we are all in this boat together. Everyone is experiencing the same complicated feelings about the pandemic. There is no need to feel awkward reaching out to new friends or stepping outside of your comfort zone by joining extracurricular activities — there’s a good chance that those feelings will be reciprocated. No one better understands the emotions surrounding this unusual semester than our fellow students.

During this pandemic, it is crucial that we get and stay involved. Although virtual involvement doesn’t have all of the benefits of in-person involvement, using campus activities to boost morale during the pandemic can be equally as beneficial. The U has so many opportunities for involvement and every student can find their place on campus. Students can find, join and connect with campus organizations by following this link. If students are struggling to find an organization they want to join, they can also create their own. Find a way to get involved that works for you and use it to get through this difficult school year. This semester is tough but if we stick together, we will get through it.

 

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@sydjstar