Student Activities staff hosts virtual events to strengthen community, looks ahead to fall schedule
Student Activities staff works year-round to connect Liberty University students with their classmates and help them assimilate to residential life by coordinating more than 80 on-campus events throughout the school year.
That dynamic array of activities on tap opens with the annual Block Party, which kicks off the school year in late August with live music, food, and festivities, including carnival rides and games. It also includes concerts with acclaimed Christian artists, movies under the stars on the Academic Lawn, open mic nights at the Argo Tea Café in Montview Student Union, and Christmas and Spring Coffeehouse events in the Vines Center.
This spring, COVID-19 forced the department to cancel its “Late Night” themed Spring Coffeehouse and postpone the April 3 concert with Skillet (featuring Ledger) to Sept. 25. It has also challenged Student Activities staff members to think outside of the box to come up with ways to keep residential students, who are now completing their spring semesters online, plugged into the campus community.
“Our online event opportunities have really allowed our staff and students to find new ways to interact,” Student Activities Director Steph Ward said. “Students are appreciative of the efforts of our university in trying to provide ways to engage and build community right from where they are.”
Staff members contribute to a cultural engagement blog series that highlights the best in entertainment (books, TV, music, film, etc.), as well as timely ideas on how to exercise at home and a preview of the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, featuring interactive sessions with world renowned speakers. A Student Activites podcast features occasional interviews, including recent talks with Ward and Vice President for Campus Recreation and Logistics Chris Misiano.
The SA staff have also maintained an online schedule of events for students to participate in from home, ranging from a photo expo, a book club, Student Concert webcasts featuring Cole Loomis, Scout Powell, and Oceanic (archived on the Student Activities Instagram page) in lieu of live in-person concerts on Thursdays, and “Binge and Banter” online sessions discussing three popular TV shows: “The Office,” “Friends,” and “Parks & Recreation.”
Ward has also charged her team to expand their offerings to target students who were already pursuing degrees through Liberty’s extensive online programs.
“We are hopeful that as these events come to fruition we will find ways to adjust and enhance them over time to continue to host similar programming online,” she said. “These opportunities allow more availability to engage with our non-residential students as well. Our team is highly active online already and, in an effort to continue to find ways to integrate students from the online community, commuters, and residential students, we will take what we’ve learned now to grow these opportunities in the future.”
This fall, especially, Ward and her staff are excited to welcome residential students back in town in August for a fresh slate of events showcasing her team’s creativity that helps make Liberty so inviting.
“One of my favorite times of the year is Fall Welcome Week when students return,” Ward said of the Aug. 20-22 events leading up to the Aug. 29 Block Party. “It’s a time where our team is eager and students are ready to engage and fellowship with their peers. I can only imagine that this feeling will be enhanced for us all when students return this fall. It will be a refreshing time to engage and build community amongst our student body.”
Student Activities now also oversees registration and event planning for Homecoming Weekend, set for Oct. 9-10, with the annual bonfire and parade and academic meet and greets followed by Flames Football and men’s hockey games.