This week’s Campus Spotlight will be highlighting the Office of Student Activities (OSA). The OSA office is essential to creating and maintaining a healthy campus environment for all students.
The office oversees hundreds of student-led organizations between the three Georgia Southern Campuses, and also provides resources for students looking to join an organization or form their own.
Providing a friendly campus experience is a primary goal for the Office of Student Activities. For Memory Littles, the Director of the Office of Student Activities, the goal is also to ensure that students feel a deeper connection to their school.
She said that on a micro and macro level, she wants her department to “offer a diverse offering of student engagement opportunities. For students to find their connection to the university. Maybe it’s meeting friends, just whatever they need outside of the classroom,” Littles said.
The social aspect of college is often considered to be an important part of the experience, and the Office of Student Activities seeks to create convenient ways for students to meet students with similar interests. Students with a particular interest can come to the office and ask for suggestions as to which organizations may suit their interests best.
The office is also able to connect unfamiliar students with other students who may be able to help them navigate some social aspects of college.
“Or, if they come in and they’re just bored and want something fun to do, we can tell them ‘Well, there are these events coming up,’” Littles said.
The management, endorsement, and facilitations of these organizations consists of the Campus Programming area of the office. Littles gave a positive report on how much ground this part of the office has covered.
“We have our University Programming Board (UPB), which is a student-led organization that finds different opportunities for their peers to get outside those residence halls or apartments and really enjoy the campus community,” Littles said.
The partnership between students and administrators is a common theme in this office. There are few other settings on campus where students and administrators work in such a peer-like environment.
The other area the office handles is student leadership development. The OSA utilizes workshops, which are now available online, to assist students in developing different aspects of their professional lives.
These workshops that can help students be better prepared for the workforce once they have graduated. According to Littles, this department aims “to sharpen those leadership skills and personal competencies that they may not get in an academic classroom, but we know that employers want to see.”
These workshops cover a wide range of topics and skills for students to work on. Being an effective leader and other skills like these can make a big difference when applying for jobs. Workshops cover areas such as time management, leadership skills and more.
Like every department, the Office of Student Activities was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Littles, the COVID-19 impact was immediate and obvious.
“Pre-COVID, we didn’t really struggle with attendance at programs. Students would just come with their friends and roommates. Now, students are still a little unsure about coming out and being social. Obviously being concerned about their health and being exposed. I think that was probably the biggest change we noticed,” Littles said.
The OSA was also tasked with maintaining safety protocols for events held during the pandemic.
“We significantly increased our safety measures, things we didn’t necessarily have to do before COVID. We did implement those as part of our standard in executing an event to make sure we kept our students safe,” Littles said.
The decision to keep events going despite a near-global shutdown was rooted in common sense, according to Littles.
“Students still need to socialize. This is a very tough time for a lot of people. You can’t just shut down everything, and tell students to not socialize and not gather. You know they’re going to do that. We’re social beings,” Littles said.
This philosophy contributes to the idea of a welcoming community on campus. OSA also gave students a safe and healthy outlet to socialize. A shut down of all activities may have led to an increase in popularity of less regulated, less safe activities, and perhaps an increase in the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
Pandemic or no, the quest to ensure every student feels seen, heard, and appreciated remains ongoing. Littles has made it clear that she wants every student to feel appreciated, and connected to the school and campus that they attend.
“We don’t want you to feel like you’re just an Eagle ID number,” she said. The Office of Student Activities hopes to ease up on regulations by the fall.
Littles mentioned that while she cannot speak for other departments, her current plan is to relax the current safety measures without getting rid of them completely.
Either way, the plan is that Fall of 2021 will look much different than the Spring. The hope is that attendance at student events will jump back to normal. If it does, the Office of Student Activities will be ready to help.