Student Alumni Council transitioning to virtual events

Mitch Sevier ’21
    Mitch Sevier ’21

October 01, 2020 — While the pandemic has interrupted the ability for students and alumni to be on Grinnell College’s campus, the need for student-alumni connection points has not diminished.

The Student Alumni Council (SAC) will be bridging the gap in student-alumni interaction through a series of events and initiatives during the 2020-21 academic year. National Philanthropy Week, Arctic Lights, and other events will be shifted to a virtual format. Co-presidents Paul Cover ’21 and Mitch Sevier ’21 are leading discussions with SAC members about how to transition the activities.

“We are keeping focused on our core mission of building connections for the student body,” Sevier says. “We are attempting to adapt to an online format while continuing to make SAC a fun experience. We’re all in different time zones. We all have different experiences that we are going through right now. So the conversations now are focused on trying to find ways to meet the mission of SAC in this setting.”

SAC is a student-run group that fosters connections between students and alumni, empowers students to be a part of the wider Grinnell community, raises awareness about Grinnell’s history and traditions, and works to develop a culture of service and philanthropy among current students.

Paul Cover ’21
    Paul Cover ’21

Cover says students are continuing to seek alumni interaction. Normally SAC helps bring together students and alums during Alumni Council weekends, alumni visits, and other personal touchpoints.

“We obviously can’t cram a bunch of people into a gym and have them talk to each other, so we are coming up with other ideas,” he says. “It’s going to be even more important this year that we execute connections well. Everyone needs someone to talk to right now.”

Cover and Sevier already had a hand in transitioning the Medallion Ceremony for first-year students. Both appeared in a video about the medallions – along with President Anne Harris and several alums – which SAC sent to students.

“The video got a lot of positive responses,” Sevier says. “Students reached out to tell us thanks and that this meant a lot to them. I’m happy that we can share this experience even if we can’t have the ceremony in the traditional sense. It also helps share a message about the importance of philanthropy, and shows first-year students that they have the support of faculty, staff, current students, and alumni. We’re all in this together.”

Sevier, who is double majoring in biology and history, and Cover, a biology major who plans to go to medical school, have known of each other since their high school swimming days in Missouri. Cover is from Columbia while Sevier hails from Liberty.

As first-year students, both learned about the Student Alumni Council from swimming teammate Michael Lee ’18. Cover and Sevier joined SAC during their first winter on campus. Cover became social media chair his second year and kept the role last year.

“I really enjoyed it and admired the way the presidents shaped and help improve SAC,” he says. “It was my turn to give back after enjoying their leadership for three years.”

Meanwhile, Sevier took on a new executive role as student outreach coordinator where he communicated with other student organizations to spread the word about SAC. Like Cover, he jumped at the chance to be co-president with his roommate, fellow swim team captain, and best friend.

Mitch Sevier ’21, second from left; and Paul Cover fourth from left, are pictured with their Grinnell College swimming teammates at the 2018 Midwest Conference meet.
Mitch Sevier ’21, second from left; and Paul Cover fourth from left, are pictured with their Grinnell College swimming teammates at the 2018 Midwest Conference meet.

“We get along so well on so many levels,” Cover adds. “One of the jokes on the swim team is that we can read each other’s mind. We also joked our first year about being SAC presidents our fourth year, and yet here we are.” Beyond planning events, SAC is going to roll out a pandemic pen-pal program between students and alumni.

“We’re billing it as a way to give students someone to talk to who is familiar with the Grinnell experience, but isn’t directly related to it as a faculty or staff member,” Cover says. “We think alums might also enjoy conversing with someone who they normally wouldn’t have gotten the chance to talk with.”

The co-presidents are excited for the year ahead and hope alums will engage as events plans are announced.

“We want to meet this challenge head on,” Sevier says. “We are looking forward to working with students and alumni. I think it will be a great year.”

—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Visit the Student Alumni Council website to learn more about what the council does.

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive.