Members of Campus Activities Board (CAB) posing in Drexel University's Main Building before the COVID-19 pandemic closed campus back in March.
Fall term holds a special place for the Drexel community each year, as with it comes thousands of incoming first-year students, new and exciting social opportunities, vibrant campus life to explore, and the reunion of friends and colleagues. It’s a fresh start for so many, and an awaited return for others coming back from co-op or summer breaks.
So let’s be honest: this wasn’t the fall term we were expecting, or the fall term we were looking forward to. But while it may look different, new opportunities will be available at every turn. And sometimes, different can be good!
For our incoming students, there are so many exciting firsts when you enter college: a new day-to-day schedule, experiencing a new learning environment, meeting new people, and exploring new opportunities. Your first year can be a building block and the foundation for a successful several years at the University, rooted in getting involved and trying new things. For our returning students, starting a new year with our favorite clubs and Greek Life organizations, as well as getting back to our beloved city, are some of the best feelings in the world.
And let me be clear: all of this will still be possible.
While the upcoming term will be a unique one, it’s important to remember a crucial part of the Drexel experience that has made so many of us come to love our campus and university: community. Community can come in many forms at Drexel: from friend groups to student organizations, athletics to religious and spiritual life, classes to co-ops. Even though our fall may be different, we still have our community, and it will remain an integral part to our success and triumphs in the coming months.
I have seen firsthand the effect that community can contribute to our student population. With over 24,000 students, it’s what allows us to make our mark in our four or five years we spend at Drexel. It allows us to build our character while finding our gifts and talents, leaving us with a sense of uniqueness that defines who we are, and who we are setting out to be. It gives us a sense of what we want to accomplish, and what steps we need to take to get there.
So, you may be wondering, “How will community look the same in this new setting?” There isn’t one clear answer, and many will carve their own paths. But I would impart on you that there are many great starting points to find your path to building or increasing your Drexel community:
Get involved in a club or student group
Clubs are a great way to initiate life-long friendships and invaluable skill-building. With over 350 at Drexel, there is no shortage of opportunities that exist. And yes, clubs will still be active virtually! Student organizations are tirelessly working on programming for the upcoming term to keep you engaged and immersed.
Attend the Virtual Student Involvement Fair
With clubs ready to begin virtual programming, they are looking for students to get involved and excited about the upcoming term. If you are equally as excited — as you should be — connect with them at the Virtual Student Involvement Fair on Sept. 23.
This year’s fair will feature hundreds of student groups to join or learn more about! You’ll get the opportunity to meet one-on-one with organization members who can share more about their experience and what to look forward to.
Find a cause you are passionate about
The Lindy Center for Civic Engagement is a great place to start to find ways to get involved in your community, both virtually and in-person. With virtual programming, community “coffee chats,” and countless engagement opportunities, this is a great way to give back and take action. Check out their ‘Engagement During Coronavirus’ website.
Get more academically involved
Now more than ever, individual colleges are developing new ways for students to get engaged virtually. Each college has their own events calendar that allows you to explore new academic programming like guest speakers, networking series, college-wide celebrations, or new masterclasses.
There is no shortage to what you get involved in. Keep an eye on your college’s event calendar in the coming weeks for updates on what to expect fall term!
Take advantage of worldwide virtual offerings
Museums, gyms, theme parks, and even Broadway are coming to you! Drexel’s Campus Activities Board has compiled a list of virtual opportunities from around the globe that allow you to expand your horizons and travel around the world in the process. Take a look here.
More ways to find and build your home
Overall, it’s crucial that you feel supported, loved, and at home. Resources exist all around Drexel to make that happen:
Take care of yourself
These will be challenging times ahead. Resources such as the Office of Health and Counseling Services can serve as a guide when navigating this new normal. You come first.
Getting involved and finding your community is a foundational and establishing component of your college experience. It can amplify your success by building networks, honing transferrable skills, and gaining experiences that highlight who you are now, as well as who you are striving to become. While virtual engagement may be daunting, we are all experiencing this “new normal” together, and your fellow community members and student leaders are here to support and guide you every step of the way.
I’ve been asking myself over the past few weeks, “Will a fun, impactful fall term still be possible?” The short answer: yes. It will take effort and enthusiasm, but the resiliency of our student body has been seen for years now, especially in the past few months. Lean on your fellow Dragons for advice, support, and love. We are all in this together, and we will make it through as a stronger and more unified community.
When I stepped into my first CAB general board meeting, then first organization event, and eventually my first leadership position, I had no idea the impact it would have on me. I remain grateful to those around me for encouraging me to get involved in so many opportunities that Drexel offers. The comradery, friendships, and networks I’ve been able to build as a result have defined me in ways I previously thought unimaginable. I encourage you to do the same: take a leap of faith, get out of your comfort zone, don’t be afraid to try something or say ‘yes!’. This is the place to do it, and there is no better time than to make it happen.
Christian Maxey is a fourth-year honors student majoring in organizational management as well as operations and supply chain management. He is the president of Campus Activities Board (CAB), Drexel’s largest student-run undergraduate event planning organization, as well as director of communications for the LeBow Dean’s Student Advisory Board. To view CAB’s fall virtual event line-up, please visit www.drexelcab.com/upcomingevents.