KENNESAW, Ga. | Sep 8, 2020
Kennesaw State University has responded to the challenges of the unconventional Fall 2020 semester by scheduling more than a thousand activities and programs for students to stay connected with each other and their campus community.
President Pamela Whitten stated that KSU’s nearly 41,000 students will do more than simply attend class and wait for normalcy to return. The Division of Student Affairs is up to the task, developing a diverse schedule of events that maintain current safety measures, adding to the many virtual events already planned.
“Our students’ safety and overall experience as Owls are our top priorities,” Whitten said. “Most of all, we want our students to have an exceptional experience in the classroom as they make progress toward earning their college degree, but it is also important that they have a college experience at Kennesaw State in which they meet new people, are exposed to thought-provoking experiences and sometimes just have a little fun.”
Many of the activities are just for fun – esports competitions, trivia tournaments and a pop-up obstacle course on the Campus Green, to name a few – while other programs focus on health and well-being. Also, a "prize patrol" on both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses is awarding prizes to students who are decked out in KSU apparel.
Kennesaw State’s academic colleges have joined the effort by rolling out a broad array of events for the fall. For example, KSU Journey Honors College hosted a table tennis tournament and plans to have its annual fall festival, and the School of Music is conducting Fresh Air Fridays with live music performances by students and faculty at the Kennesaw campus gazebo.
“We are creating as many different small-scale, safe programming opportunities as we can for our 41,000 students,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Eric Arneson. “I think that student engagement is more important now than ever because many of the natural structures that are in place for students to meet and connect are not there.”
KSU Athletics is a key partner with Student Affairs, as coaches from the University’s 16 men’s and women’s varsity sports teams are conducting weekly clinics open to all students. Many of the clinics cover the proper techniques for playing a particular sport, while others are educational on topics such as golf etiquette or team leadership.
Arneson pointed out that the myriad of activities being hosted by Student Affairs and Housing and Residence Life are in addition to the more than 300 student clubs and organizations that are active at KSU. He cited Fraternity and Sorority Life as an example, as 350 female students have joined sororities at Kennesaw State this fall and fraternity recruitment is underway.
“We know that a huge predictor of students succeeding in college and staying in college is that they have connections to their school and to each other,” Arneson said. “We want students to understand that they have all these options for things to do and ways to connect. It’s a team effort.”
That message is resonating with KSU students. First-year Owls are participating in events to make friends and acclimate to their college home, and returning students are maintaining the connections they already have to Kennesaw State.
KSU senior Zaria Johnson recently attended events on both the Kennesaw and Marietta campuses on the same day. She started in Marietta near the Globe sculpture for a socially distanced social where students built their own burgers, then headed to the Kennesaw Campus and played bingo at the Carmichael Student Center.
“I’m trying to go to all the events that I can because this is my last year,” said Johnson, a criminal justice major who lives on campus at the Austin Residence Complex. “Getting out and being around other students is really important because it’s better than just staying in your room all day.”
Gabrielle Jones, a freshman from Marietta, also enjoyed two events in the same evening. She played a few rounds of bingo and then attended a meeting of one of KSU’s many student clubs, and finished some homework in-between.
“I live 10 minutes away, and I work five minutes away, so I find things to do on campus after work,” said Jones, who plans to major in media and entertainment. “I just feel like every event is an opportunity to meet someone.”
– Paul Floeckher
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.