Katherine Noble, Contributing Writer
VCU student offices have been offering a variety of events and programming, modified to fit within the bounds of social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
The Office of Multicultural Student Affairs is one of those groups. Greta Franklin, the director of OMSA, said although plans are uncertain for the fall, OMSA will prepare for different outcomes.
“Despite what occurs, we’ll continue to provide opportunities for students to engage in cultural programming, identity-based social gatherings, intercultural discussions, and diversity and inclusion education,” Franklin said in an email.
OMSA’s current online offerings include film screenings, a queer coffee hour and cultural discussion groups, which aim to educate on and support minority communities. These can all be accessed through Zoom links in OMSA’s virtual calendar.
OMSA has also provided alternatives to previously scheduled graduation celebrations for minority groups, such as the Lavender Graduation, the Kente Donning Ceremony and the Latinx Cultural Achievement Ceremony
“Once the university canceled the May commencement ceremonies, OMSA decided to cancel the Kente Donning and Lainx Graduation ceremonies and instead, mail the kente and serape stoles to students,” Franklin said.
The Lavender ceremony has also been shifted online, with graduates receiving rainbow cords via mail. Students will be sent digital versions of the program booklets.
“The digital booklets will include the students’ names, degrees and statements from the graduates that focus on appreciation for friends, family, or faculty members that supported them or words of motivation for students,” Franklin said.
RecSports has closed its gyms, but has been offering daily workout videos as well as esports competitions. The workouts, which vary based on day, are available via the RecSports website, and the esports are held through a platform called Geex.
“We have worked tirelessly to bring our virtual programming to students and it’s been met with great success,” said Anthony Muscatello, assistant director for external services at RecSports over email. “While this is not our ideal situation we will continue to find new and innovative ways to keep our students engaged and part of our community.”
The Career Services office has begun offering virtual career advising appointments over Zoom, phone or email, as well as virtual career fairs and promoting online job opportunities via Handshake.
“Our team has been working hard to meet student needs in new ways over the past month and look forward to continued efforts to support VCU students and recent grads in achieving their goals,” said Samara Reynolds, director of career services, over email.
When students get sick of binging Netflix and refreshing Instagram, there are ways for us to be engaged with our communities, to learn, and to stay prepared for when we are able to resume campus life.