As faculty begin teaching courses online en mass, a host of student affairs professionals accustomed to doing much of their work in person are also shifting to remote support, programming and new ways of thinking. Each higher education professional association (e.g. NASPA, ACPA, ACURA, NACUC) is striving to support their members in this time of transition and to help those professionals support their campuses virtually.
This week, we wanted to share some of the heartfelt and helpful ways campus staff and administrators are helping students stay healthy in this moment of global crisis. We’ll keep adding to this list as great examples come in.
1. Reach out to Share New Resources
Many offices are reaching out to students with resources that have shifted online. Northeastern University’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service Executive Director, Alex Kern, sent a message to the student body with 13 tips for Caring for Self and Others in Times of Trouble. In addition, the e-mail told students how to access resources like: the office’s guided meditations, yoga, and religious literacy videos on YouTube; confidential spiritual advising online by appointment; online prayer requests’ virtual dinner dialogue; a new short film; and call for submission for a global journal.
Harvard Divinity School has a broad range of resources linked online, including an invitation for students to share daily reflections and inspiration via Facebook and Instagram, to be included in their weekly e-mails.
2. Repurpose Existing Projects and Resources for this Moment
Campuses have been focused on cultivating students’ whole being, health and resiliency for years. Wofford College’s Resilience Project has a set of “Well-Being Exercises” that they are reviving in this moment to support students’ well-being through a range of practice and activity suggestions, including a gratitude journal, focusing on strengths, meditations (mindfulness and loving kindness), kindness experiences, positive communications and growth, forgiveness, and cultivating grit. In addition to these resources students can use, Ron Robinson, Wofford’s Perkins-Prothro Chaplain & Professor of Religion, is also reaching out to their Christian, Jewish and Muslim students to wish them well around their upcoming holy days of Easter, Passover and Ramadan.
Westminster College’s Office for Global Peace and Spirituality is moving their Co-Exist Cafes online and focusing the conversation on Healing and Hope in Changing Times. They’re getting creative with the joy of food and sending meals to participants who would otherwise be eating together.
Similarly Warren Wilson College’s Spiritual Life Office is hosting a virtual interfaith potluck themed on routines and ritual. Even the classic practices of sharing a meal together can be reimagined in a time of physical distancing.
3. Connect in New Ways
Campus staff are connecting with students in new ways – speaking directly to students’ hearts through videos like this message from Chapman University’s Director of Wellbeing.
Trinity University’s President is regularly sharing video messages with ideas and practices to navigate this moment.
As every campus considers how to adapt graduation celebrations to today’s remote reality many are exploring social media campaigns in which students can highlight pictures and share memories, and family members can submit well wishes. Campuses are considering how to best adapt campus traditions, build community and help students grieve online. At Rider University, Student Engagement has developed a host of programs and events, including Open Door Conversations with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. They are connecting with local clergy to host virtual office hours for students who return home and can’t easily access the traditions and practices that they have come to rely upon or that they are newly exploring in this anxious time.
4. Share Clear Guidance and Resources Online
Elon University’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life clearly lays out a range of resources online, including a Chaplain’s Fund (to support students, faculty, and staff who are in need of additional support because of an unexpected crisis or emergency), ways to Contact a Chaplain, Reflections and Resources, and Virtual Programs and Events.
The University of California’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion shared a guide to Equity and Inclusion during Covid-19.
Northwestern University informs and shares resources with students about attending to the Eight Dimensions of Wellness (during Covid-19 and any other time).