By Jeff Willadsen, Global Campus Senior Writer
Global Campus students from around the Pacific Northwest took a breather after the first week of WSU’s fall semester to have some fun together at the Oregon Zoo in Portland.
Rendezoo, an annual family-friendly event organized by ASWSU Global, the student government of WSU Global Campus, gives WSU students earning their degree 100% online an opportunity to meet fellow students face to face.
“It’s a very rewarding feeling to be able to meet people in person and put a face with the names you see online,” said Megan Hexum, chair of ASWSU Global’s Involvement Committee. “It really helps us build up this amazing community of online Cougs and brings us all together.”
The zoo-themed event, now in its sixth year, included free admission to the zoo for students and two guests, breakfast, a resource fair, and an Animal Encounters presentation featuring exotic bird and reptile species. Face painting and henna tattooing were also available, adding to the festive atmosphere.
158 people, including online students, their guests, and WSU staff members, attended the gathering. Students traveled from as far as Texas to participate.
“I think it’s just wonderful, and I’m so happy to be here,” said Rachel Biggerstaff, a Social Sciences major who traveled from Olympia, Wash., to attend the event. “It gives us a chance to interact and rub shoulders with other online students in a fun environment. Most of all, it’s just a really good time.”
Rendezoo costs are covered by Services and Activities Fees, fees that Global Campus students pay as a component of their total tuition to fund non-academic student activities, programs and events.
“We want students to get a lot out of events like this,” said Morgan Atwood, ASWSU Global President. “We want them to have fun and meet each other in person, but we also want to be able to learn about some great support services and programs that student government and WSU offers online students.”
The resource fair at the event included booths for ASWSU Global, Global Campus Career Services, Virtual Mentors, WSU Center for Civic Engagement, WSU’s Wellbeing Online program, and Global Connections, the Global Campus online student involvement program.
ASWSU Global senators also spoke during the event, informing students of other services they can take advantage of, including financial reimbursement programs that are available for travel and other expenses.
ASWSU Global also puts on other in-person events for online students throughout the year. In March they hosted a career-focused event in Seattle called—similarly—Rendezvous, and in July they invited students to spend a day at Wild Waves water park in Federal Way, Wash. ASWSU Global also hosts graduation receptions in Pullman and Seattle during the week of WSU’s spring commencement.
According to Atwood, she and fellow ASWSU Global senators consider in-person events like Rendezoo as a vital part of their work in student government.
“As members of the student government, it’s our mission to be the voice for our fellow online students. We act as advocates for their needs, try to improve their experience in any way we can, and work to build a sense of community and belonging,” said Atwood. “Events like Rendezoo are a great way to strengthen that sense of community. Global Campus Cougs are a wonderful group of people located all around the world, and we are proud to be a part of that.”