Biola’s teams establish remote community through huddles and virtual lunches

Campus engagement and admissions have remained close-knit as they face another semester of online school.

Graphic+by+Lacey+Patrick

Graphic by Lacey Patrick

Jayne Bickford, Ashley Grams, and Maria Weyne

On July 28, President Barry Corey announced Biola would be moving forward in a completely remote format. Although faculty and staff were anticipating this decision, on-campus involvement teams had to come up with new ways to stay connected. 

Biola’s admissions and on-campus engagement teams had to come up with ways to keep incoming students involved, as well as to keep potential applicants interested. On Campus Engagement also had to completely move new student orientation leaders to other departments.

HUDDLES, THE NEWEST CLUB

While preparing for this year’s incoming students, OCE had plans to introduce their newly reformed New Student Orientation program in the fall. The original plan was to welcome students, even if via Zoom, in the fall semester. These plans were quickly shifted for the spring semester, and then promptly cancelled. Marketing coordinator of Campus Engagement Brenna Yager explained over the phone that OCE created huddles, which are essentially a new way to allow students to connect over the semester. 

“So huddles is essentially a broad term for opportunities to engage with smaller groups,” she said. 

Yager also explained that these huddles were created in order to focus on intentional community since events like the Eddy and Punk n’ Pie will not be taking place this semester. 

“Continue to stay involved with your huddles and your clubs that existed last year. Those things are not changing or going anywhere; they just look a little different,” Yager said.

On Biola’s website students can click a “find my huddle” button. The link will direct them to a form where they can input information about themselves and their interests. Once submitted, OCE will reach out to students with suggested huddles.

A QUICK TURNAROUND

Yager isn’t the only one who has found challenges and triumphs in being online. Director of Traditional Undergraduate Admissions Michelle Reider of the Admissions program talked about the quick turnaround brought on by the pandemic.

“We immediately moved to online appointments with families, took calls from our computers from our homes, promoted our virtual tour, connected current student workers to do Zoom meetings with prospective students, equipped 30 student workers to call and work remote and even hosted multiple online events,” Reider said via email. Admissions is able to give prospective students a similar experience to their traditional in person approach. The admissions marketing and events teams have worked together to provide DoorDash gift cards to have virtual lunch with students out of state. They also connected students through Zeemee, a new social media app designed to allow networking between college students and admissions staff.

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