COURTESY OF JOCELIN GALLARDO
As students navigate online learning, multicultural student groups and WSU leaders are collaborating to provide the same level of resources to students.
The Office of Multicultural Student Services worked with campus organizations to provide a virtual Week of Welcome through Conexion. Conexion serves as a database for nearly every student center and registered student organization on campus.
“We don’t have the same casual interactions that we’re used to,” said Stephen Bischoff, director at MSS. “It’s going to be more important now that we get the word out sooner.”
Jocelin Gallardo, interim retention counselor at the Chicanx Latinx Student Center, said when she was a freshman, she learned of MSS’s resources through word-of-mouth and personal interactions. The switch to virtual events could make it difficult for students to feel that they have the same sense of support, she said.
“A lot of students who I talked to really miss having a sense of community on campus,” Gallardo said. “Honestly, as a freshman, if it wasn’t for the fourth floor, and for the Multicultural Student Services and specifically the Chicanx Latinx Student Center, I honestly don’t think I would still be at WSU.”
Gallardo said the CLSC will still host virtual Latin Heritage Month events beginning in September. She said MSS will continue to have virtual office hours and will post details on social media about upcoming events students may want to attend.
“We are still here, we still care, you still matter,” Gallardo said.
The Conexion lobby also hosts the African American Student Center, Asian American and Pacific Islander Student Center, Native American Student Center, Team Mentoring and STEM support programs, and LGBTQ+ student resources, which includes the Queer Intersections Association and the Women*s Center.
Although not every RSO registered for Conexion, Gallardo said, the lobby serves as a central base to get students connected to each other and to other support systems.
Sylvia Bullock, adviser at MSS, said she wanted Conexion to keep students engaged, even though they preferred the in-person experiences.
“There’s a certain vibe that happens in-person,” Bullock said. “You don’t get to interact the same way [now].”
She said she hopes students find programs on-campus that were designed for them, especially those from underrepresented populations.
Officials at MSS had to consider how to make the website accessible, Bullock said, as some students have access to technology that others don’t. Students also expressed their fear of both losing their community and fear of their own health when they return to campus, she said.
As fall semester continues, Bullock said WSU and other student centers on campus will continue to offer students resources for both academics and livelihood.
ASWSU President Curtis Cohen said in his welcome message that students can find an RSO or multicultural center to suit their needs and interests, even though it is all virtual.
“It’s really hard at first to grasp the types of organizations and the amount of organizations we have here behind a computer,” Cohen said, “but I can guarantee you all that people that are already in these organizations are looking for new members to keep that going even if it’s virtual.”