Freshmen and new students at colleges across the country have been stripped of the true college experience, but at Murray State, the RCC Board at Springer-Franklin Residential College has found a way to let its students connect with each other amid the pandemic and resemble a normal first semester on campus.
Coming into the 2020 fall semester, Springer-Franklin College Head Eric Umstead and the RCC Board wanted to completely revolutionize the way they had done things in past years in regards to the pandemic.
HC Franklin President Ana Moyers said it started with changing meetings from a business style format to a more flexible meeting in order to gain more interaction with students at the residential college.
Starting with an inspirational message each meeting, they follow with half of the meeting’s time taking up business regarding the community of Springer-Franklin and what’s happening at Murray State before moving on to some sort of event or activity.
Bingo nights, open mic nights, Halloween coloring nights, Kahoot games over Zoom and pumpkin painting have been a few of the things Springer-Franklin has done to get students out of their rooms while enforcing mask wearing and social distancing.
Continuing to look for creative and innovative ways to change events, one event that Moyers really enjoyed was fast friends: speed dating for friendships.
“That was our first big event this year where we broke people off into breakout rooms, so we utilized Zoom as much as we could,” Moyers said. “We broke people up into breakout rooms in rounds of five minutes and they had a list of questions they could ask or they could go off of it. They just got to talk and chat and a lot of our residents really loved it.”
For Aaliyah Harrell, a Springer freshman representative, this event has been her favorite of the fall semester.
“Personally for me, myself and another person on the executive board were in one of the breakout rooms,” Harell said. “Me and her actually both shot archery at the same time and we really had mad respect from other schools, but we didn’t meet each other until this year, so me and her have gotten extremely close through that.”
She has also talked to other students about it and said that they’ve met friends they eat lunch with everyday.
Taylore Moore, a Franklin freshman representative, really enjoyed the pen pal event, which led to her making some new friends. In times where it’s not the easiest to get out and meet new people, Moore has really appreciated what the RCC Board has done for students.
“It’s been hard to make new friends, but with the activities and stuff that you guys have been putting on it makes it a little bit easier to connect with other people even when we’re in different residential colleges,” Moore said.
Moore said she initially thought she would be stuck in her room all semester and that the RCC Board has really made the transition from high school to a freshman on campus much easier.
While things have gone well, Moyers said it’s definitely been difficult trying to work with the COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of students while allowing them to have fun with others.
“At the beginning of the year before we had visitation was the roughest part of it,” Moyers said. “Because we are Springer-Franklin, which means we have two buildings instead of the one, so Springer could not cross over to Franklin and Franklin could not cross over to Springer, so we had to do everything virtually.”
Sipes expanded on Moyers’ statement, saying she also was really nervous for the pair’s second term on the Springer-Franklin RCC Board.
“I was kind of nervous in general how this whole semester was going to go…” Sipes said. “I was really worried about how stressful and rough everything was going to be, but having RCC being kind of an outlet [and] being able to be serious but also have a lot of fun and just hangout with people I think has been a really nice relaxing time.”
Despite the challenges they’ve faced, the RCC Board at Springer-Franklin is thriving. Moyers said the goal this year was to create a community amongst the two buildings and they feel that they have done so.
Continuing to try and create connections among students, the RCC board has a plethora of events coming up, including decorating for Homecoming week.
They encourage all students to come visit events that they can in-person, but also to visit and connect with other students over Zoom as well.
“If you want to have a lot of fun after a stressful day and you want to come and you want to meet new people and actually do an activity that’s going to help you meet new people and help you have a lot of fun after everything, I think it’s a really good idea to come,” Moore said.