Fighting Apathy

by Grant Batchelder
@batchaelder

This semester I’ve noticed that it has been much harder to get students to attend events and programs than it was when I was an RA or in grad school. We’ve been trying everything that we can think of to get students to attend, but our attendance is still lower than usual. Free pizza, cookies, popcorn, having students get involved with the planning, gift cards, and money do not get people to come. I know that we aren’t the only ones having this problem either. I’ve talked to many professionals in our area and they are all having similar problems. I’ve been reading everything that I can on involvement, engagement, and apathy to see if there is anything I can do or tell my students to help them get students to their events. However, there seems to be little on the subject of how to do it beyond what I already knew. Most writings are on the importance of involvement and engagement not how to help. I’m not worried though, some things have helped. Personal handmade invitation delivered to the person, giving (non-RA) students assignments for planning and running the event, and social media invites/updates seem to be helping a little. I do believe that once we understand these new students,events and programs will have higher attendance.) things will be better attendance-wise.

So what is different with this generation? I have a few thoughts myself and they all have to do with social media. Our students get hundreds of advertisements and messages every day. Our single advertisement written in an email, on the wall, or hanging in the bathroom are not enough to get through the other invites they get every day, no matter how clever the ad is. My last thought is that students are inundated with negative comments and ideas, especially through apps like Yik Yak. They are so boggled down with these negative influences that they have become apathetic to all other things going on. Why would they go to some event when they already know that it and those who go to it are going to be blasted on Yik Yak. So how do we battle this? I don’t have an answer, but I hope to soon. I think that we, SA professionals, need to bombard our students with positive influences and words of affirmation. This is a tough climate and age to live in for developing young minds. They could use any form of positive influence that we can give them. If anyone has any other ideas about these problems, feel free to comment. It’s a discussion that I feel will benefit all of us in the end.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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