OSI makes welcome week, GrizzFest hybrid events

The Office of Student Involvement (OSI) is trying to make sure this year’s hybrid welcome week will set the tone for campus life during the “new normal” of the upcoming fall semester. 

Welcome week will have both digital and in-person events to ensure there are options for all students to connect with the Oakland University community while abiding by health and safety guidelines, starting Sept. 2 through Sept. 12. 

“Our student organizations are going to function and meet,” OSI Director Jean Ann Miller said. “We just have to find different platforms to make it happen.”

The schedule for welcome week includes the new student convocation, welcome stations for students to meet club officers, an ice cream giveaway and several themed days hosted by different groups on campus. Student Program Board (SPB) will also be having their annual carnival by Bear Lake and other events for people to be a part of with digital and in-person aspects. 

In the current statewide COVID-19 recovery phase there are capacity limits for outdoor gatherings, which makes planning for in-person events difficult, according to Miller. In order to combat this, OSI is having students RSVP to events.

“I know it is the new normal but we still want to make sure that students have their OU experience — their campus life experience,” Miller said. “Hopefully it’s not all just virtual, but it will be a combination of both.”

GrizzFest — the large gathering of all student organizations for students to sign up for — will be taking place virtually, with QR codes to link students to a club’s GrizzOrg page. Clubs will have the opportunity to set up tables during welcome week to introduce themselves to new students, but it will look different compared to years past. It will be happening on Thursday, Sept. 10. 

“[We’re] just making sure that the student body knows that the student orgs are still running and they’re still functioning even though it’s virtual,” said Jen Yetter, OSI member in charge of student org training. “We’re just helping out the [student org] presidents as much as we possibly can.”

While OU is already equipped with GrizzOrgs to help students connect with groups online, OSI has been working to make clubs’ online presence stronger and more accessible to students. 

“We’re trying to be as creative and as innovative as we possibly can to make sure [freshmen] truly are having their college experience,” Miller said. “I feel so bad for the first year students coming to campus because they didn’t get their graduation and now they’re coming to campus, a college campus in a whole different kind of way. So we want to make sure that they get to get that college experience, they get that university experience, so that they feel like they’re really going to college, and they’re not being robbed of campus life.”

While groups like SPB have already been piloting virtual events throughout the summer, Miller hopes to get a good turn out at welcome week to show the student body that there will still be campus life for students during the hybrid semester. 

“I hope that they appreciate that we are trying everything to make sure that they have that experience and we had that in mind,” Miller said. “It goes both ways. We’re offering, [students] have to try it, and hopefully they try it and like it, and they’ll come back for more.”