On Being a Student Leader During COVID-19

By: Chris Butsch

Meetings are canceled. Everyone’s taking classes online. No one’s quite sure when things will be back to normal.

As a leader, how can you keep your members connected and engaged during a crazy time like this?

Here are three tips for exercising strong student leadership and keeping your members engaged during COVID-19.

1) Provide a way to stay connected

Your members joined your organization to, above all, connect with other students on campus. For that reason, you want to ensure that your members have a way to stay connected to prevent feelings of isolation.

Create a Slack channel and schedule monthly Zoom meetups, and be sure to send out Google Calendar Invites to remind members and increase participation.

You can keep the meetings brief – just casual check-ins to chat, see who needs help, and swap tips (and memes). I know, Zoom meetings may seem impersonal or contrived, but for many of your members they’ll provide human connection when such a valuable resource is in short supply.

2) See who needs help

With disruptions in housing and meal plans, some of your members may be in need of a place to stay, resources, or just emotional support. On the flip side, you probably have members ready and willing to help.

Let your members know that the org and its members are here for them. If you or another member can’t provide what someone needs, you can help them connect with a resource that can. To start, you can Google “[your school] COVID-19]”, which will usually connect you to a page like this one that lists resources for students in need.

Even to your members who may not need immediate help, to see your organization step up in a time of crisis to support its members sends a powerful message. It shows that you aren’t just here to build your resumes or do keg stands; you have a mission, purpose, and values, and you stand by them.

3) Offer physical/mental health tips related to your organization’s purpose

By now, everyone’s probably heard the basics on how to stay healthy during COVID-19. As a refresher, you can link your members to CNN’s immensely thorough and live-updated Coronavirus Q&A.

To be fresh and helpful, offer your members tips that are “on brand” to your organization’s purpose.

    • If you’re the leader of an athletics organization, you can offer members a custom morning workout routine.
    • If you lead a volunteer-focused organization like Alpha Phi Omega or Habitat for Humanity, you can offer members safe ways to volunteer.
    • If you lead a band or musical organization, consider inviting your members to a livestream event, and schedule a Zoom call after to connect and chat!

Even as COVID-19 disrupts daily life, you can practice strong leadership to keep your members healthy, informed, and engaged.

That being said, don’t forget to take care of #1. Wash your hands, be mindful, and remember what’s most important: health, family, and relationships.

Need further guidance? Just wanna chat? I’d love to hear from you. Connect with me on Instagram: @chrisbutschspeaks.