OHIO Involvement is hosting Friday Night LIVE: an hour-long music show that gets students involved with campus life in a virtual format.
DJ A-roc hosts the event every Friday on Twitch.tv from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. and brings musical guests to entertain students.
A-roc has been performing on Twitch.tv throughout the pandemic and has partnered with the university on projects prior to Friday Night LIVE, such as OU’s Homecoming. However, the Friday show and the other program, Tuesday Night Laughs, are a big team-up effort to further integrate students into college life.
“We are going on our third week right now,” A-roc said. “The whole idea was to bring some virtual entertainment to campus with everything closed off.”
Previous performances have featured artists like DJ Top Knot and Guitaro 5000. This Friday’s performance features a violin duo called Black Diamonds, who have performed on cruise ships and currently reside in Ukraine. They did a pre-recorded set to account for the seven-hour time difference.
“We’re bringing entertainment to Athens, Ohio, to Ohio University, but it’s going out to everybody, because now with things being virtual, even if they come back to campus for college this semester, or you’re doing everything at home or you’re in California, you can still be involved in these activities that cater to our campus here,” A-roc said.
A-roc and Ohio Involvement have also been doing giveaways during the Friday events. When students arrive at the virtual event, they can enter their name in a drawing and be eligible to win a prize shipped out by A-roc. The prizes are coming from the Athens community, from places like Brenen’s, Court Street Coffee, Donkey Coffee, and Fluff Bakery; even the OU bookstores are giving away T-shirts.
Andrew Holzaepfel, senior associate director of student activities, worked with A-roc to put the event together and has been impressed with the turnout. When deciding how to continue with programming like the Friday Night LIVE events, Holzaepfel just puts himself in the shoes of students.
“I just put myself in the perspective of being, for instance, an incoming first-year student who hasn’t had the opportunity yet to be on campus, living,” Holzaepfel said. “So, being able to meet and connect with people as we’re all making our way through this crazy COVID virtual time, it just gives them a connection back to Ohio University. That’s why it was really important for us to work with local businesses.”
Aside from OHIO Involvement, other organizations like the Black Student Cultural Programming Board and the Multicultural Center are pitching in to sponsor the event.
Holzaepfel has found that Learning Community leaders and resident assistants have been taking groups of newer students to the Friday Night LIVEs as a fun bonding experience.
There have been alumni viewers, incoming freshmen, and everything in between, and students are really enjoying this virtual way to stay involved with campus life.
“I think this is a really great opportunity to keep students involved while not physically on campus,” Charlie Knox, a sophomore studying strategic communications, said in a message. “Everybody is in a different situation at home and this is an awesome way for bobcats to be together and enjoy each others’ “virtual” presence.”
Holzaepfel and A-roc hope the event will continue. For now, they’ve planned out six weeks, this being the third week, and will plan to host more of them if there is continued interest from students.
For now, they’ll continue trying to keep students involved with OU –– even if it’s just for a little while on Friday nights.
“We just want a place where OU students, in general, could come and interact on the chat sessions,” Holzaepfel said. “If you tune in, you’re going to see the backgrounds are going to be Ohio University, so students can be nostalgic in that sense and feel connected to Athens, even while they’re away.”