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Student Activities Get Creative – While Staying Safe

Campus Rec Offers Fitness Options and Student Organizations Plan a Fun Fall

Screen grab from Minecraft UML showing Pulichino Tong Building
UML Minecraft was created by students for students. It's a great way to connect with old friends, make new connections, and help create our very own virtual UMass Lowell campus.

By Katharine Webster

Want to make friends, have fun or meet study buddies in your major? Looking for faith and fellowship, future business networks or leadership training?

The best way to get connected is to join one of the 250-plus student-run organizations or student activity programs. Even though most students are living off campus and taking classes remotely due to COVID-19, there are still plenty of opportunities to dive into campus life.

While fall athletics and club sports are on hold, the Campus Rec Center will offer virtual fitness programs such as yoga and kickboxing. Student organizations from the Student Government Association to Greek Life are planning a host of remote activities.

You can get leadership training via Leaders in Action or play a Minecraft-based video game that introduces you to the campus – and to other new students. Multicultural Affairs is offering “Culture Shock Talks” and conversation classes for international students, while the Marching Band marches on, remotely. And faculty and staff are helping academic clubs line up speakers and plan networking events.

So whether you want to meet up with other students who share your interests or get some exercise to relieve stress, there’s a group or activity waiting to welcome you – and if there isn’t, Student Activities and Leadership can help you start one. 
Check out these examples and search the ENGAGE website – and find your River Hawk crew.
Five girls standing arm in arm in front of Coburn Hall Photo by File photo


Find your inner boss through Leaders in Action. First-year students are encouraged to sign up for online workshops about leadership at the individual, group or society level, and other students are welcome, too, says Director of Student Affairs Shaima Ragab.

Nadine Chamoun, an honors business major and first-generation college student, completed the four workshops for individual leadership training last year and plans to take part in the group and society pathways this year. She says the activity-based training has made her a better peer leader for the River Hawk Scholars Academy, a supportive community for first-year, first-generation college students. “I just feel compelled to continue exploring myself and bettering myself as a leader, a student and a friend,” she says.
Zoom screen grab of Student Government members


Hannah Casey, president of the Student Government Association (SGA), says the organization’s advocacy work is more important than ever. The SGA meets regularly with the Chancellor and her executive team to address student concerns, from reducing textbook costs to improving mental health services. 

“Students can reach out to us anytime on social media or by email,” Casey says. And the communication goes both ways: “We’re using social media to reach out to incoming and returning students to let them know what’s happening, what the guidelines are and all of the services available to them.”

Casey urges students from every college – including education and health sciences, which are currently under-represented – to consider running for one of the open SGA Senate seats in the fall election. “We’re going to need as much student representation in our organization as possible,” she says. 
Students play trumpets in the band Photo by File photo


Anyone who plays a musical instrument is welcome to join the UMass Lowell Marching Band – no audition required. You don’t have to be a music major to join the Marching Band, the Concert Band, the Jazz Rock Big Band, the Basketball Pep Band, the university choirs or other university music ensembles, either, although auditions are required for some groups.

UML Marching Band Camp went online for a week in August with 85 students in attendance, says Debra-Nicole Huber, associate director of university bands. Rehearsals and performances will be online for all of the musical ensembles this fall, too. Still, Huber says, the groups provide the camaraderie and joy that so many people are missing right now – and they’re continuing to accept new members.

“It’s about community and connecting with one another, and music is all that,” Huber says. “No matter where you come from, connections are important to all of us – and we still embrace that kind of environment virtually.”
Pile of UML Connector Newspapers


The Connector student newspaper won’t be landing on your doorstep, but it will be landing in your inbox this fall via an e-newsletter – and Editor-in-chief Brigid Archibald and her team are looking for reporters, photographers and videographers to contribute. “You can cover anything – whatever interests you,” she says. 

Archibald says that when she went to her first Connector meeting as a freshman, she didn’t say a word. But her shyness didn’t last long. “It’s a really fun and loud environment,” she says. “And the people I’ve gotten to work with the last three years have been some of the most influential people in my college career.”
UMass Lowell face mask


Wear your River Hawk pride on your face! When you make a donation of $20 or more by Sept. 24, 2020, you will receive a one-of-a-kind UML face covering—and, one will be donated back to the Lowell community. 

Order Now

Color satellite image of hurricane swirling off coast of New England


Junior meteorology major Nathan Coram got hooked on the weather in 2011, the year that spawned the Halloween snowstorm, tornadoes in western Massachusetts and Hurricane Irene. So he joined the UML student chapter of the American Meteorological Society as soon as he arrived on campus.

Now, as vice president of the club, he’s helping to organize an online fall speaker series that features alumni Shiri Spear ’07, a meteorologist at WFXT, and Michaella Farese ’15, a meteorologist at Cheniere Energy, as well as scientists from NASA and the National Hurricane Center. “They’ll talk for half an hour and then field questions,” he says. The group is also planning a mini online career fair for late fall.

The club is one of many across campus that are based on students' academic focus – and that connect current students with alumni, national professional organizations and potential employers. Ask your department chair, academic advisor or a college-based advisor about clubs in your department and college.
Four girls smile holding Filipino Club poster Photo by File photo


The Filipino Club has been hosting Discord video game nights and online binge-watching parties this summer – while challenging members to become more socially active. It’s just one of many clubs sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs that connects students with others who share their heritage, nationality, religion, ability or sexual orientation, as well as an interest in social justice.

Francine Coston, associate director of Multicultural Affairs, says the staff are encouraging student clubs to perform virtual community service this fall, such as providing online homework help and mentoring to city students. “We’ve been suggesting different kinds of bonding activities the groups can do online,” Coston says. “We’ve also been recommending different ways for them to be socially engaged while staying safe.” 
Young woman performs yoga triangle outdoors Photo by Colleen Gordon


Campus Recreation will be up and running this fall. All students can participate remotely in live or on-demand fitness classes, including yoga, kickboxing, Zumba, HIIT (high-intensity interval training), and Beats and Bands, a resistance band class that comes with a different playlist for each workout. 
You can also sign up for a free, 15-minute virtual health coaching session with a staff member, who can help you with stress reduction, fitness and wellness resources.

While club sports and intramural sports are on hold, there may be some e-sport leagues. Check out the Campus Rec website for updates and links to all of its programs. You can also check the schedule of online group fitness classes on the GFit page, follow Campus Rec on Instagram, and join the Virtual Fitness & Wellness group on Facebook for motivation, fitness challenges and more.
Closeup of male feet walking in red high heels


Greek Life invited students to informal, online “Meet the Greeks” nights over the summer, which will be followed by more robust recruitment events this fall, says Sarah Rine, director of Student Activities and Leadership. Rine and student leaders are also working hard to make sure that the Greek organizations’ traditional events carry on in creative and interactive ways.

So far, students are demonstrating lots of enthusiasm, Rine says. “One of our biggest annual fundraisers is St. Jude Up ’Til Dawn. We already have 17 teams and we’ve raised more than $8,000 toward our $50,000 goal – and the event’s not until December.” The annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” sexual assault awareness event is being planned for the spring, too. 

And, for a second year, members of Greek Life will be teaming up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Lowell to mentor children in a Lowell public school. This time, they’ll be doing it virtually.