Center for Student Leadership and Involvement helps make an online campus a community
Apr 03, 2020

Bryant’s Center for Student Leadership and Involvement (CSLI) creates an inclusive community atmosphere that fosters personal and professional growth through leadership development, service opportunities, and student programs. A shift to virtual learning in response to the coronavirus hasn’t changed that work.

“The way we're doing things has definitely changed, but our mission still remains the same,” says Kelly Harvey, CSLI Assistant Director. “We engage with students to help them make the most of their college experience, and that’s still true.”

The Center works to create a comprehensive college experience that emphasizes the importance of linking on-campus collaborative learning environments and social development with off-campus real-world connections, community engagement, and active citizenship. Its programming promotes inclusive opportunities that foster personal and professional development, innovation, and global thinking.

“We're dealing with a unique time right now in the sense of just what's happening around the world. I think it’s important for students to still have an outlet to connect with one another."

To further those goals, the Center provides support for more than 100 student clubs and organizations ranging from the Actuarial Association to the student-run WJMF radio station, organizes student activities, and hosts developmental opportunities such as leadership summits.

“We enhance students’ academic experience by providing co-curricular experiences outside of the classroom,” explains Associate Director Andrew Jacques. “We work to bridge those experiences by providing opportunities on and off campus to engage with others, learn leadership skills, and develop goals and skill sets that will help with their career, and to be become active citizens.”

Shift to online

To continue connecting with students, CSLI has shifted its efforts online. Through its Instagram account, CSLI hosts a variety of virtual programs, including trivia contests, TikTok video challenges, and a March Madness-style virtual basketball tournament.

“I think it's always important for students to have this kind of community as part of their college experience because it opens them up to so many other people, perspectives, and ideas,” says Jacques. “We're dealing with a unique time right now in the sense of just what's happening around the world. I think it’s important for students to still have an outlet to connect with one another.”

The Center also suggests fun diversions for students cooped up at home, such as recommending TED Talks, showing students how to set up Netflix watch parties, highlighting online concerts, and hosting DIY Fun Fridays. Harvey notes they’re always reaching out to the Bryant community for new events and ideas.

"We're here to provide a variety of experiences. Some of them are fun activities ... others can have a significant impact on the goals you set for your career.”

Leadership development remains a priority. Profiles of student leaders and campus organization “spotlights” highlight the great work being done in the Bryant community. Motivation Monday offers activities, resources, and conversations to help keep students mentally and physically motivated. All Together Tuesdays feature the work of student volunteers, community leaders, and nonprofit organizations, as well as ways for students to get involved.

For the recent Telling HERstory online event, the Center worked with the Hochberg Women’s Center to give Bryant’s women student leaders a platform to share their perspectives, advice, and lessons learned. “We're here to provide a variety of experiences,” Jacques says. “Some of them are fun activities and events, but others can have a significant impact on the goals you set for your career, and how you contextualize both things in your classrooms and real world experiences.”

The Center continues its work with Bryant’s student organizations, collaborating on programming and providing support. “We're trying to make it as much 'business as usual' as possible, says Harvey. “We're still working to support those organizations and individual students to make sure that those services are still being provided.”

“It’s more important than ever that we collaborate and pull together. We may not be on campus together, but we’re still a community.”

She’s impressed with the students’ resilience. “One thing that makes Bryant's community stand out is that the students themselves are eager to make it the best possible community it can be,” she says. “I'm continually impressed how our students and student organizations are adapting so quickly to the virtual environment.”

As the Center’s Leadership and Programming Assistant, Madison Hahnen ’20, brings a unique perspective as a student worker. “CSLI provides a foundation for so much of student life at Bryant, and sets the tone for so many of our student organizations,” she notes. “I’m glad I get to be a part of that.”

That work, she says, is especially valuable now. “It’s more important than ever that we collaborate and pull together,” says Hahnen. “We may not be on campus together, but we’re still a community.”

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