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Students looking to connect with campus? Point them at [email protected]

August 6, 2014

What2Do screencapThings just got easier for NIU students looking to answer that age-old question: What is there to do around here?

The Division of Marketing and Communications introduces, a comprehensive online collection of information about events, clubs, teams, Greek life, volunteer opportunities, the local music scene and more.

The site is part of university efforts to increase student recruitment and retention.

“We know that when students find things to do, and groups to connect with, it dramatically improves the chances that they will stick around, earn degrees and go on to career success. Our goal is to make it easier for them to do so,” says Brad Hoey, director of University Marketing in the Division of Marketing and Communications.

Until now, students had to work hard to find that sort of information.

“If a student didn’t happen to walk down a street where a group had chalked, or see a bulletin board where a flier was posted, they missed out on a lot,” says Jill Zambito, director of the NIU Office of Student Involvement and Leadership Development. “Hopefully, by providing ‘one-stop-shopping’ for information about all there is to do, more students will find that connection that helps transform their time on campus.”

Students play basketball outside New Hall.

Students play basketball outside New Hall.

Editor of the site, Joe King, assistant director of NIU Media and Public Relations, is working with a team of student interns to develop and populate the site.

“A lot of our efforts this summer have been aimed at promoting Welcome Days events, but we are also trying to amass a collection of profiles on clubs, teams, Greeks and other organizations so that students can begin ‘window shopping’ for groups to check out before they even arrive on campus,” he says. “As we get into the fall, the focus will shift more to working with those groups to promote their activities, as well as official campus events.”

In addition to that, the site also will strive to highlight the philanthropic and volunteer activities of students.

“On almost any given day during the school year, there are NIU students volunteering all over DeKalb County, and nobody knows about it. Every year, Greek organizations raise thousands of dollars for charities, but almost nobody realizes that,” King says. “We hope to shine a light on those activities and demonstrate what a positive force our students are in the community.”

Student writers working on the project are optimistic that it will be popular with their classmates.

“I think one reason students don’t stick around on the weekends is that they cannot find anything to do besides school. This should help them find lots of options,” says Samantha Steur, a junior studying journalism. “There are a lot more clubs and organizations than most people realize.”

Steur’s fellow reporter, senior journalism major Erin Kolb, agreed.

“A lot of students just don’t know where to start,” Kolb says. “This will be a great way for them to see everything in one place before they put themselves out there.”