Survey Shows Digital Burnout Affecting Student Participation

Leniya Morrow, features editor

A survey was released to the Augsburg student body to measure their participation in student organizations and events during the pandemic. Student leaders also weighed in on their experiences from an outreach and event planning perspective. The data showed that approximately 78% of survey participants said their engagement in Augsburg student organizations has decreased since the start of COVID-19, while 42% of participants said that they have not attended any extracurricular events this year at all.

“It has been sad because I used to be involved as a person, but attending events online is not the same,” one student responded. 

The consensus amongst all survey participants is that activities just aren’t as fulfilling online.  Many Augsburg students have experienced the trials and tribulations of adapting to virtual learning. The decrease in social interaction and lack of face-to-face instruction has made it difficult for students to stay engaged in their regular classes. To some, taking on extra activities would just add extra stress. 

“I don’t go to online events unless they seem interesting because after doing zoom classes, I don’t want to stay online,” said an anonymous participant. There is a common sentiment of digital burnout amongst students that stem from our switch to virtual instruction. 

Event coordinators have reported difficulty when it came to getting people to attend activities. A former Residence Life student worker plainly stated, “I used to host events when I worked as an RA. No one showed up to any of them.” It can be difficult for leaders and coordinators of events to get people to attend or even get the word out. 

However, other students are still actively participating in organizations despite pandemic challenges. Due to COVID restrictions, KAUG Radio and many other student organizations have had to reinvent the way they operate. ziz immelman, president of KAUG Radio gave some insight into the challenges that student leaders face with outreach. “COVID has taken a hard hit on KAUG because no one is allowed to record from the studio and we did a lot of in-person events.” immelman notes that the online events the group has run “haven’t had the same excitement that they used to.” Despite the challenges, KAUG, and other student groups are still operating as best as possible. These adaptations may not be popular, but it’s the only way these organizations can stay afloat.

Participants of this survey were allowed to give suggestions on how to engage more people in student groups and events. Most suggested in-person and physically distanced gatherings while others focused on outreach. “I‘d recommend trying to advertise more. I’m not involved in any events and organizations, but I would be open to joining one if it’s something I’m interested in. While I do see these events and organizations advertised, there’s never enough there to convince me to join,” third year student Max Helmueller states. “COVID-19 has drastically changed our lives, but I feel like there could be more of an incentive to join extracurricular activities/events if there was just more information and/or excitement surrounding them.” 

Students who were both active and inactive seemed to have the same concerns when it came to student organizations. immelman tells students, “I’m not going to say the changes aren’t a bummer, but I still think students should get involved with any organizations they’re interested in.” Despite the challenges, student groups and activities are still active on campus to the best of their abilities and still essential to building a strong community at Augsburg.