By Krista Ritz
Youngstown State University’s recreation center hosted a virtual game night and other virtual activities for YSU students.
Domonique Sak, coordinator of Club Sports and Summer Camps for campus recreation, plans multiple virtual get-togethers for students to take part in during the pandemic. Participants enjoyed rounds of Cards Against Humanity during the most recent game night.
Last year, campus activities included Puppy Palooza and Llamageddon, bringing a parade of furry friends like cats, dogs and llamas to campus. The rec continues to provide events to bring students together again this school year, albeit in a different manner.
“We [campus rec] like to call ourselves the ‘Disney World of campus,’” Sak said. “You come here because you want to, not because you have to, and that was our motivation: allowing students to still be involved, engaged and happy.”
Sak uses social media and the TVs inside the rec center to promote these virtual events.
“We want something for students to look forward to. We want them to still have fun, have a sense of belonging and community on campus,” Sak said.
Along with virtual game night, campus rec staff planned a virtual “This or That” debate and a talent show where students can sing, play an instrument or display different talents on a virtual platform.
Samantha Johnson, a first-year grad assistant, creates ideas for the rec center and markets activities on social media platforms. Although it’s difficult to compare this year’s virtual events to last year’s, Johnson said there will be a good turnout if it is marketed well.
“[Virtual activities are] important because there’s not a lot of engagement on campus right now, especially for that freshman class who are looking to get college experience,” Johnson said. “There’s not a lot of opportunities for them to make friends outside of their classes, and it’s just a different way to get the students involved and to do something fun.”
Johnson is optimistic about these virtual games; however, she is still concerned about students being virtually “burnt out.”
“I know a lot of people are tired from staring at a computer screen all day, so my concern is that a lot of students aren’t going to want to be on the computer longer than they have to be just to participate in an event,” Johnson said.
She said the more classes students have in person, the more they wouldn’t mind virtual programming.
Caleb Ellison, a freshman telecommunications major, participated in Virtual Game Night and said it’s a great way to get to know people on campus, even virtually.
When Ellison feels virtual learning can be too much, he sees Game Night as a relief. But he still prefers in-person game night to the online version.
“Sometimes I definitely feel virtually burnt out, especially if I have a ton of Webex meetings lined up, but I feel like with virtual game night, it’s a refresher. These virtual tools can be used for fun too and not just constant studying,” he said.