Residence hall councils must find new ways to adapt to a remote year

In past years, residence hall councils have established a community within dorms through a variety of in-person events. In this virtual year, they must get creative in doing the same.

The+COVID-19+restrictions+implemented+in+resident+halls+have+forced+resident+hall+student+governments+to+create+a+sense+of+community+in+their+halls+virtually.++They%E2%80%99ve+held+a+variety+of+events%2C+from+cooking+classes+to+trivia+nights%2C+all+to+foster+a+more+tight-knit+community.+%28Illustration+by+Charlie+Dodge%29

Charlie Dodge

The COVID-19 restrictions implemented in resident halls have forced resident hall student governments to create a sense of community in their halls virtually. They’ve held a variety of events, from cooking classes to trivia nights, all to foster a more tight-knit community. (Illustration by Charlie Dodge)

By Felicity Huang, Staff Writer

COVID-19 restrictions implemented in residence halls have created a unique challenge for resident hall councils. During a time when students cannot meet one another in person, they must find a way to create a sense of community in a virtual manner.

“We’ve planned a few events to help create some sense of a community during a time when it’s pretty hard to find, especially for first-years,” CAS first-year Rushee Soni, who is the president of Palladium Unified Government said.

Residence halls traditionally host movie and game nights for their residents to bond, and hold routine in-person meetings between students on individual floors. With themed residence hall communities, residents chose streams tied to their particular interests.

Now that these events are no longer possible in person, residence hall councils have had to find out which activities translate well to a remote format. They’ve held a variety of events, from cooking classes to trivia nights, in order to foster tighter-knit communities.

“I definitely wished things could’ve been in person. It’s been tough to get people energized and motivated over Zoom,” said CAS first-year Kieren Gill, President of Founders Advisory Board.

The turnout for these events is not as high as hall events in a normal year, but some especially popular events have had higher attendance figures. 

“Our UltraViolet Live preliminaries probably had the biggest turnout of nearly 100 people, and our Halloween Paint-a-Patch event had around 50,” Gill said. “Most of our other events don’t have numbers that high. We usually have around 20 to 30 people for most of the smaller events.”

Some students have used hall council as a way to engage with the NYU community. 

“It’s definitely been one of the avenues for me to get to meet new people through my e-board members and the people who show up in the general assembly,” Gill said.

Hall councils also operate differently this year. All e-board meetings and planned events must be through Zoom. With the unprecedented need for online events, student hall councils are figuring out the best way to engage the community without a lot of guidance.

“Having served on event boards beforehand, I had some idea of what taking up the role of president would entail,” Sani said. “However, I was surprised by the increased autonomy we’ve had over this year.” 

Residence hall governments have improved their marketing of hall events to increase turnout since the fall.

“We generally promote hall events through social media, emails, flyers, hall/floor group chats and word of mouth, of course. We’re planning on trying to do three to five more events by the end of the semester,” Sani said. 

Since the pandemic limited the ways in which first-year students can communicate with each other, they have found ways to adapt to their new normal.

 Email Felicity Huang at [email protected]