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Post-COVID-19 Habits Diminish Campus Engagement

Julian Perez
Students gather at the recent Latino Student Union event on April 17.

CUC alum Corey Dooley hosted an event called “The Art of Entrepreneurship” on Feb. 16, one of several special events themed to celebrate Black History Month. Since his graduation in 2020, Dooley ran for alderman in the 29th Ward of Chicago, and runs an organization called “Community Corey” that uses art to talk about love.

As the event began at 6:15 p.m., students trickled in and out of the CU Learn center while Dooley spoke about how his upbringing and struggles shaped who he is today.

A total of six CUC students and two faculty members attended Dooley’s event. 

“During my time at CUC campus engagement was medium to low, and now it’s really, really low. I think the pandemic forced a lot of people inside,” said Dooley.

CUC students receive emails every day about all of the different clubs and events happening on campus. CUC is home to several organizations such as the Black Student Union (BSU), Latino Student Union (LSU), Art Club, Crochet Club, Student Government Association (SGA) and more.

However, despite the ample opportunities and communication, Concordia is struggling to maintain campus engagement following the COVID-19 pandemic, a trend seen in universities across the nation.  

A study from the National Survey of Student Engagement says that in 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 31% of first-year students participated in extracurricular activities. In 2022, the survey found that 29% of first years were participating in campus activities. The same report found that 27% of college seniors participated in activities in 2019, while only 24% participated in 2022.

“I do wish that there was more participation,” said Dominican University freshman Maria Sarango, who is heavily involved in activities on campus, such as the honors program, the Community Actions Network, and the Undocumented Immigrant Alliance. “I love getting involved and connecting with people. I think it’s important to try new things and learn from people.” 

Recently Concordia held their CUCelebrates spirit week. During a students versus faculty dodgeball game in the gym, the stands remained empty, and only a handful people showed up to play dodgeball, including some members of the girls’ soccer team.  

“I think that if the athletes are involved you would get a lot more turnout,” said Dooley. 

“With this generation of students coming in, I have to be more intentional or do more research into something that could be successful campus wide,” said Sam Seggerson, the director of campus engagement. 

The number of students living on campus at CUC affects campus engagement as well.

The commuter status at Concordia is high, with 71% of undergrad students from Illinois and 37% of undergraduate students living on campus. 

“The feedback I got from commuters was ‘I would be engaged if events were earlier, you need to have more day events,’” Seggerson said. 

In fall 2019, there were 672 students living on campus compared to 488 students living on campus in Fall 2023. Currently Concordia has 5,066 students, including 1,377 undergraduate students and 3,689 graduate students.

“Since the beginning of the school year, I’ve made an emphasis on having my events during times when commuters are here,” said junior Yasmin Carillo, who is the LSU president and also a commuter student. 

Events like the Hispanic Heritage Month kick-off hosted by LSU started at 1:00 p.m, when commuter students are more likely to be on campus. The event had high participation and ran out of supplies quickly. 

Though this event was a success, other events such as their meetings are much less attended, with their Feb. 21 meeting only attracting 10 people.

Recently, CUC’s Spring Formal was organized by Campus Activities Board. Although 70 students bought advance tickets, only 55 people attended. Last year, around 100 people attended the dance. 

Some commuters find it difficult to juggle work, school, activities and athletics. “I don’t live close, so it takes a while to get here, when it comes to class or practice, I don’t have time for other activities,” said freshman dance team member Jenise Edwards. 

Organizations have also been hosting programs in campus hot spots to boost turnout. On April 10, SGA and BSU hosted a “de-stress and decompress” event in the triangle, where many students showed up to paint and enjoy snacks.

On April 12, students participated in Casino Night in the Crossroads Dining Room. The night had high energy, as students played games with the chance to win prizes such as an iPad, PS5, and a TV.

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About the Contributors
Melissa Alfaro
Melissa Alfaro, Reporter
Julian Perez, Photographer