Reviving Student Life on Campus After Covid



Student Life Director Matt Cipriano

Colin Riccardi, Staff Writer

Looking around campuses around the country can be a dreary sight as of late. Seeing few groups of students scattered around a school is very different when compared to the pre pandemic era. 

Gone are the days when hundreds of students would remain on campus to study between classes or get in some extra practice. Now, students are staying in the comforts of their homes while they cram practice reviews for upcoming exams. 

Many factors are being talked about as it pertains to the recovery of student life at community colleges. It is no secret that over the course of the pandemic, enrollment at community colleges has not been able to keep up with major four-year schools. 

However, the days where those hundreds of students would populate community college campuses may soon return. Plans to rejuvenate student life here at Bucks are already in motion and it is only a matter of time before we see a resurgence in student engagement. 

Damaged student life as a result of Covid is evident in the number of students who are taking remote classes rather than in person learning. While remote learning provides its own sets of benefits, it is clearly a drawback for a healthy student life on campus. 

“From my own experience, I can say that the convenience of remote learning has allowed me to schedule my class work easily around the rest of my life,” says journalism student James Bonnell. 

Remote learning has proven to be effective in keeping students taking classes, but it has also taken away from engagement in person. 

Director of Student Life and Athletic Programs at Bucks, Matt Cipriano, believes it is just a matter of time before student life is back to normal. 

“People are still transitioning back to being in classrooms and being comfortable on campus and all that. We are going to be getting back to the things that we used to do sooner than later,” adds Cipriano. 

Plans have already been set in motion to try and get students to engage more with students and clubs. For starters, Bucks has recently filled the position of Coordinator of Student Engagement in an attempt to connect with students more. 

“I think it’s very exciting. That person’s responsibility is to be working with student organizations, doing programming, engaging with students in a variety of ways whether it is through leadership opportunities or other programs,” Cipriano explains. 

Student engagement remains a top priority amongst the top members of the college, such as Cipriano and President Ganther. 

Finding new ways to get students involved has been a priority even before the pandemic hit. The addition of the Coordinator of Student Engagement is just the first step in the plan. 

Athletics at Bucks have also suffered greatly from the pandemic and lower student engagement has proven to be challenging to navigate. 

Over the course of the pandemic, every sport has seen a drop in student involvement or has had their season canceled all together. Athletics have had to crawl their way back into the spotlight while overcoming some unique challenges, some of which are still being faced. 

“Women’s teams have been affected the most for sure. Low numbers were always an issue with them and not having students on campus made it difficult to spread the word about our teams,” says Assistant Director of Athletics, Justin Burroughs. 

“We lost some of our history and traditions. We had a good connection with high schools about our programs, now we need to re-establish it with the current classes.” 

The connection with high schools has been important in recruiting new student athletes into programs at Bucks. “We are sending out marketing materials to them about the benefits of a community college education as well as the ones for athletics here,” says Burroughs. 

It is essential to have new students coming in and for those students to eventually pass information along to other student athletes. 

Plans are already being discussed about how athletics can improve. Matt Cipriano believes an overhaul of intramurals would be a great place to start getting students involved in sports, but this of course will take time. “Students who may not be going full time and are going part-time should have opportunities to compete, so we created a club sport model that will help solve some of those problems,” Cipriano said. 

Faculty and staff are doing everything in their power to help elevate student life, but students can help too. Burroughs and Cipriano stress that spreading the word about clubs and sports is crucial to sustaining student engagement. 

It is important for current or graduating students to communicate with newer and incoming students about the benefits of some of the sports and clubs here at Bucks. 

Cipriano cites things such as marketing, public relations, and even social media as great tools for getting the word out. “I think that helps students go, ‘Oh yeah. Okay, cool. They are doing things. I had heard otherwise, or I didn’t realize.’ You know, it is a multi-pronged approach,” he offers. 

While student life has appeared to be looking down, behind the scenes Burroughs, Cipriano, and others have been working to keep them afloat. 

“We all play a role in it and I’m very optimistic about next year and I’m excited to see where we go from here,” cites Cipriano. 

It is not an easy task, and it will certainly take time, but with the overhaul of intramurals, more outreach to students through marketing, and the recent addition of Chris Seifert as the new Coordinator of Student Engagement, we will soon have a student life to rave about.