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Present — virtually: TCNJ students still found time to get together during their time apart

With help from TCNJ’s Office of Student Involvement, Lions stayed connected outside of the classroom despite a physically distanced semester of remote learning.

From large-scale events to weekly student organization meetings, students used tech platforms like Zoom, Discord, and TCNJ’s Roar app to communicate about virtual events and stay connected.  

“We decided to keep having our meetings because we could adapt our activities to fit a virtual setting, and most of us were lucky enough to have the technology to do so,” says Sayon Park ’22, an executive board member of TCNJ’s Korean Student Association.

“Outside of our cultural celebrations we also held music and game nights where we played games like Kahoot or Jackbox and just hung out together on a call,” she says.

The College Union Board — CUB — offered student-led events like its Coffeehouse Series and delivered on its longstanding fall concert tradition, this year bringing in acts including indie-pop girl group The Aces and alternative rapper Rico Nasty. CUB also welcomed back speaker Jonathan Van Ness, a star of Netflix’s Queer Eye, who first spoke on campus in the fall of 2018.

The resurrection of the weekly “This Week at TCNJ” email and a new complementary Instagram account, @thisweekattcnj, also gave students ample opportunities to find virtual events that suited their tastes.

Present — virtually: TCNJ students still found time to get together during their time apart
A sampling of virtual events posted on the @thisweekattcnj Instagram account during the fall 2020 semester.

“When we launched the This Week at TCNJ Instagram, we were hoping it would assist with some social media fatigue,” says Melissa Andreas, manager of the Brower Student Center and Instagram account admin. “Instead of having to follow every organization and office account on campus, this would be a one stop shop to find out what virtual opportunities were taking place and how to get involved.”

Andreas reports over 30 events advertised on Instagram before classes even began, topping out at over 350 opportunities posted to the @thisweekattcnj feed by Thanksgiving break.

For many, the planned events were a way to continue what is at the heart of every student group at TCNJ: coming together.

“We put our bigger projects on hold and turned our main focus toward being an outlet where our members still could connect and hang out since we’re all stuck at home,” says Patrick Merklee ’22, interactive multimedia major and president of the Game Design Club.

“If we could create that sense of community for even one person, then we did our job,” Merklee says. “And hopefully in the future, we can meet in person again.”

— Emily W. Dodd ’03 with reporting by Julia Meehan ’22