At the beginning of each school year, Miami Activities & Programming (MAP) always welcomes students back to campus with a slew of exciting events. This year, however, the student-run organization had to take a different approach.
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and Miami choosing to start the semester totally online, MAP had to turn their movie nights, escape rooms and bake-offs into virtual events.
MAP President LeeAnn Burcyznski said that things first moved online when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine limited the number of people that could gather to only 5o people in March. Since then, MAP has been striving to provide as many accessible virtual events as it can.
“We were able to kind of adjust to the changes, roll with the punches, take a step back and be like, ‘OK, we’re MAP, we still wanna provide for the Miami community, so how are we gonna do that?” Burcyznski said. “It is difficult, but we’ve been having two to three events every week, so that's amazing that we’re still able to do that.”
MAP will promote its events on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, attempting to connect with returning students and first-years. Trivia on Zoom has been one of the more popular recurring events, challenging students to test their knowledge on different themes like Hamilton, The Office, Vine and more.
“Mainly first-years are coming, which is awesome,” Burcyznski said. “I was in The Office trivia ... and someone [on the Zoom chat] was like, ‘I’m doing so bad on this trivia, but it's so nice to be able to be a part of this and to meet all of you guys.’ It just warmed my heart.”
With the dorms closed until Sep. 14, most first-years haven’t even had a chance to set foot on campus since the semester started. Many of them were looking forward to meeting new people when they started at Miami, including professional writing major Alison MacGillivray. But she’s been stuck at home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, taking online classes.
“I don't know anybody at Miami, so I'm kind of grasping for things to do,” MacGillivray said.
While she hasn’t participated in any MAP events just yet, MacGillivray recognizes that these events are a chance for first-years like her to connect with others at Miami.
“Keep providing as many opportunities as possible, because obviously not every student’s gonna make use of all of them, but the more options there are, the more likely it is that each student will have something that they can connect with,” MacGillivray said.
In a time when several students are isolated and separated, MAP provides an avenue for them to form those connections. Even if it’s over Zoom, Netflix Watch Party or other forms of social media, these virtual events can show students that they’re not alone.
“I think MAP allows people to step out of their comfort zone and truly meet people,” Burczynski said. “It provides students the opportunity to just take a step back from all the stress that college brings and truly enjoy their time at [Miami].”