By Adeeb Chowdhury
It was evident from the start that SUNY Plattsburgh’s Student Association Executive Council’s meeting on Sept. 28 would take a more somber tone than usual. Throughout almost the entire meeting, members reflected on and discussed a clear shortcoming of the SA this year — encouraging student engagement and participation in college events amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Coordinator of Activities Lauren Safford began by asking what events students want. She pointed out that the Activities Coordination Board Committee, which she oversees, has been struggling to devise events that will attract participation from the student body.
SA Adviser Jacob Avery agreed, pointing out the SA had hosted eight events so far this year, four of which had zero students attending. Events like Coffee House have not enjoyed much success recently, signifying that new events and ideas are needed to energize the student body.
“How are you using the tools you have?” Avery said, encouraging the executive council to consider. “How are you using coordinators? How are you re-imagining PR and marketing to better fit the times we’re in?”
The conversation naturally centered on creating fresh, engaging events and interesting methods of promoting events. Coordinator of Public Relations Naomi Tegybelu offered the idea of hosting a scavenger hunt with some element of social distancing.
Coordinator of Academics Ahmed Metwaly suggested the PR board email short, simple surveys to students to ascertain what kind of events they would be interested in attending, as well as PSAs and videos to help promote SA activities. He said participation can also be incentivized using gift cards and prizes.
Coordinator of Clubs and Organizations Ivanna Menezes argued that virtual events are simply not compelling to students, and it does not make much sense to try to host any more events online.
“Virtual events are essentially Zoom meetings,” Menezes stated. “And people are tired of Zoom meetings. We have to recognize that.”
The executive council agreed it was high time to hold each other accountable and ensure the SA’s duties are being fulfilled, seeing that the first semester of the academic year is already halfway completed.
The meeting continued with a discussion of current activities and projects the executive council members are overseeing. SA President Rudaba Ahmed said she is continuing to develop a mentorship program with the Career Development Center in hopes of promoting improved career prospects and opportunities for students.
Hosting voter registration drives for the SUNY Plattsburgh community was also a recurring topic. Coordinator of Student Affairs & Diversity Mariam Rosee Kebe described an in-person registration event she is planning, and Tegybelu voiced similar ambitions. Tegybelu is also planning to utilize the popularity of TikTok videos to launch an awareness campaign regarding social distancing, mask-wearing and student safety.