The University of Rhode Island’s Student Events Advising (SEA) office continues to hold exciting events for students, albeit remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SEA, overseen by the Office of Student Involvement, is designed to help student organizations with event planning and program advising. Despite the shift to complete online learning amidst the pandemic, SEA gives students who are primarily quarantining at home an opportunity to engage in fun activities and events.
The organization has virtually held pub trivia events, psychic readings, student caricatures and even Rhody adventures. SEA has also offered social media opportunities for students to participate in through Instagram, publishing weekly challenges like #MondayMemories, Word Search Tuesdays/Thursdays for a $5 Dunkin’ gift card and Win-It Wednesdays for a chance to win a $25 campus bookstore gift card. Win-It Wednesdays are typically a virtual bingo or a “this-or-that” poll related to URI or at-home activities, where students can participate, republish and enter to win the prize.
Molly Hovden, a graduate assistant for SEA, has played a large role in overseeing these events, their promotion and the coordination. Hovden explained that nearly all of these events and programs were adapted for the current situation. When URI went online, SEA created programming specifically for students to enjoy while they were at home. To make this happen, SEA has used some large scale virtual host companies such as Party People Inc. and Fun Enterprises to facilitate the video connection with students.
One of the most popular events SEA has hosted thus far was their free Stuff-A-Bear program for students. SEA has hosted this program with students before in person and wanted to be able to bring students it virtually.
To do this, SEA had students sign up through a link on their Instagram that asked students to select a stuffed animal and provide them with a mailing address. Students will then be sent a stuffed animal of their choice, with the stuffing and everything else required to put the animal together. SEA hopes that students will post their stuffed animal on social media after they assemble it.
“We knew [Stuff-A-Bear] was always a hit,” Hovden said. “We wanted to be able to provide our students with it; it’s almost a kind of comforting thing, to be able to be sent a stuffed animal.”
The event was a success, according to Hovden. Originally, it was only designed for 200 students to sign up and receive bears in the mail, but they sold out within the first few. SEA expanded the programming to accommodate 300 students because it was so popular. Some students have received their bears, and others who signed up will be getting their kits by the end of April. SEA encourages all participants to share their bear online and tag SEA on Instagram.
According to Hovden, social media has been critical in the formation of these events and their success.
“In the sheer amount of followers we’ve gained in the past few days, it shows just how many students are using social media,” she said. “It’s been a really great tool with our audience to keep them informed on what we’re doing.”
Emma Hayes, a sophomore at URI, said that she really appreciated the events that SEA was hosting digitally.
“It’s nice to see them still shift events online and do things for the students,” Hayes said. “I think the bingos are really fun to look at.”
SEA will be hosting more events in the future, such as another pub trivia night on April 27 from 7:30-9:00 p.m. The information for virtual entrance is on their Instagram, @uri_sea. SEA also holds virtual Rhody Adventures every Sunday, with events such as virtual museum and zoo tours. Online challenges are also held on weekdays with various prizes.