Every Tuesday night between 8 and 9, student engagement administrative coordinator Rita Hansen hosts a virtual tea meetup with a handful of student workers. Earlier this semester, those students manned the front desk of Babson’s student life office before returning home.
In their conversations, they discuss academics, how they’re coping, and anything else that might be on their mind. “I love seeing their faces, hearing their voices, and just staying connected,” Hansen said.
It’s one of many examples of how Babson staff are supporting students during the coronavirus pandemic. On campus and online, they are available to help students as they adjust to this new reality.
Ryan Travia, associate dean of students for wellness, believes that in order to do well, you must be well.
“This time in particular, it’s critical (that) folks are attending to their personal health and well-being and that of their loved ones,” he said.
Staying healthy in the midst of a pandemic starts with campus Health Services in Hollister Hall, which remains open and operational with two nurse practitioners and a triage nurse on site five days a week.
A number of virtual services also have been established for students away from campus, beginning with eight support groups, Travia said. Counselors and psychologists are accessible for consultation about concerns, and campus religious services also have continued virtually.
“There’s so many lessons learned coming through this, a whole cadre of challenges we’re trying to mitigate each day,” Travia said. “We’re a group that prides ourselves on caring for others and being there for our students.”
A handful of students unable to return home due to travel restrictions and other complications have remained on campus after the College transitioned online.
This has opened the opportunity for innovation, which student life has embraced. And, it begins with the dining staff.
Caitlin Capozzi, associate dean for student life, said dining staff members have coordinated with local restaurants to deliver and serve students’ favorite dishes on campus. A pop-up shop, offering everything from snacks to kombucha, also has opened on the second floor of Trim Dining Hall.
Students still on campus have been relocated to residence halls with single rooms, and their area directors and resident assistants have helped them acclimate to this new reality by assembling and distributing care packages.
To help students across the world stay connected in this era of physical distancing, student engagement staff have organized an abundance of virtual activities, including Netflix watch parties, which allow users to simultaneously view movies and television shows despite being apart. They’ve also established social media challenges, and continue to promote initiatives such as #OnWednesdaysWeWearGreen.
“(They’ve) been trying to maintain as many of those traditions as possible,” Capozzi said.
Those students who have returned home have been interjected into a mix of situations, Capozzi said. Some are in suburbs caring for siblings and family members, others are in cities and living with essential workers.
All are trying to balance this new environment with academics. Wherever they are, student life aims to keep that blend optimal, and the communication between students, staff, and faculty prosperous.
“Those individual relationships don’t go away just because the students aren’t here,” Capozzi said.
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