Campus life is dead, but not the activities

SAB continues hosting activities for SHU students online

It’s springtime at Seton Hall. The campus is transitioning from hiding under a dull gray haze for the past four months. The Green is returning to its vibrant form that makes it the centerpiece of a small South Orange campus. 

As flowers bloom at the feet of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, she watches the students outside, chatting and laughing with each other. One group of students is sitting on a blanket studying for finals while another right next to them tosses a football back and forth. 

This warm, community-filled scene continues every spring semester on campus. But not this year. The air is quiet — not a voice to be heard, not a person to be seen. Only the birds and Jubilee Hall bells fill the silence.

As college dorms were traded for childhood bedrooms, in-class presentations for lights in front of a webcam, scribbling pencils for strokes of the keyboard and classroom experiences for a group of pajama-clad students staring at faceless icons, one part of the campus experience remains constant — the Student Activities Board (SAB).

Ever since the University transitioned to an online-only education, SAB has continued providing activities to the Seton Hall community on a virtual platform. The student-led organization is finishing off the semester by running trivia games, talent shows and crafty tutorials.

Despite the fact that in-person events are no longer an option — at least for the foreseeable future — Ellis Mitchell, a junior sports management and marketing major and director of marketing for SAB, said he is still committed to continuing to provide activities for Seton Hall students.

But there’s one element in SAB that drives Mitchell to fulfill his commitment: family.

“I think if you polled everyone in SAB, the word that most would use to describe it would be family,” Mitchell said. “That’s my favorite part of being in SAB — the fact that we are this family and we all stick together even through times like these.”

Even if they can’t be together in person, the student organization still meets virtually. “While I love that we are still connecting, I’d obviously much rather be able to see them [SAB] in person, but we’ll take what we can get,” said SAB president Samantha Innamorato, a senior visual sound and media major.

With her senior year coming to an abrupt end, after having a college career full of memories in SAB, Innamorato had difficulty choosing her favorite event. She recalled a special memory she had at the first event she hosted during her sophomore year: a Disney late nighter.

“I just remember all of the leadership at SAB showing up and supporting me, as well as a lot of students coming,” she said. “It just felt really good to not only have the support of the student body, but also the support of the leadership of SAB. It really showed just how much of a family this organization is.” 

Another senior, Zach Cooney, a political science major, said he found himself becoming a member of SAB just one semester after he transferred to Seton Hall in August 2018. “When I first moved in, I was a transfer, I didn’t know anyone and none of my roommates had moved in yet, so I was all by myself that first week,” Cooney said.

SAB was the first organization Cooney interacted with, attending one of its movie nights. 

One event that stuck out to Cooney was the Casino Night in February. “It was just really fun to see everyone there having a good time,” he said. Cooney also stayed after to help with the cleanup. He said it was during that moment he was able to get close with people as they worked together.

“I think that contributes to the family aspect of this organization in a big way,” he said. “These people spend countless hours together working on a common goal. But it’s never a burden when you are doing all of this work, because you’re doing it with your friends and that brings us closer together.”

Although this semester they are not able to bond together on campus while running in-person events, the students are still finding ways to collaborate and put together events online and getting students to participate in social media activities.

“For members of SAB, the well being of the students is always in the forefront of their minds,” Mitchell said. “And when we all left campus, that did not change one bit.”

When news broke that the rest of the semester would be online, the focus for SAB was on the student body of Seton Hall and the future of the events they had already planned.

“When the news first broke, I wondered if things were going to be postponed or moved, or if some of the smaller things could go on as planned, since there were still students on campus,” Mitchell said. “We were told to brainstorm for more limited capacity events if it were to be the case that we could stay on campus.”

Smaller events like Open Mic Night and Bingo were able to go virtual, but SAB was forced to cancel other events that could not be replicated online as well as a few larger events. Some of these virtual activities were done just by using social media.

For example, events like “Netflix Bracket” which was put together by Trevor Gorman, a junior finance and economics major or “This or That” by Joseph Kajon, a freshman mathematics major, used social media to involve as many students as possible. It consisted of interactive posts for people to put on their Instagram stories and tag others to join in.

Gorman said he got the idea from seeing numerous other outlets make brackets of things not sports related. He divided the show into four categories: Netflix Originals, Shows Not Original to Netflix, Shows/Documentaries with One to Two Seasons and Wildcard Shows. 

“For seeding, I used these rankings with a dash of my own personal opinion,” Gorman said. “I unfortunately made the bracket the day before Tiger King was released.”

However, even before the coronavirus hit the United States, there had already been talk of hosting SAB events online. Mitchell said there had been a discussion about livestreaming the Open Mic Nights through the organization’s social media, and that “the current situation we are in pushed us to do it.”

Another virtual event that SAB recently held was the Playlist Bingo, where students had to identify the artist of a song that was being played. Events like this and the virtual magic show had a number of students attend the online session.

“I think that people are looking for something to do, and we want to keep engaging with the student body to try and keep some sort of sense of normalcy,” Innamorato said.

Cooney added, “When all we have are Zoom or Snapchat, I think that these SAB events give people something to look forward to, and that leads to a lot of people wanting to participate in our events.”

And amid these barriers of social interaction and finishing off the academic year in person, the SAB students are still keeping their heads up high, finding positivity in being together no matter where they are.

“I wouldn’t consider myself a very open person, but with SAB, I found a group of people that I could be open with and they could be open back,” Cooney said. “The SAB has given me some of my closest friends at Seton Hall and I think the fact that I can’t see them or do anything with them right now makes me appreciate them and the experiences we shared even more.”

Innamorato said, “It’s been very nice to see people want to reach out to each other and make an effort to hang out virtually and continue the relationships through everything. People will take the time to make a Zoom call and see all of their friends, and I think that shows just how much people care about each other, and it’s really being shown right now.”

Mitchell said it truly makes his day whenever he sees students doing something on social media with their organization or student-athletes doing something with their teams. “Overall, I just like hearing about the good things happening with all my friend’s days, even if it’s the little things,” he said.

When asked if he wanted to add anything for the students of Seton Hall, Mitchell only had one thing to say:

“It’s our year,” he said. “It’s our year.”

Alexander Krukar can be reached at alexander.krukar@student.shu.edu

Author: Alexander Krukar

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