While everyone else seemed to have no adjustment period at all when we moved our programming online, I ran the full range of human emotion. The first week we worked from home was one of the hardest of my professional life. How was I going to move Student Activities programming to an online platform? How would it still meet the same student needs as in-person events? How could I meet student affairs competencies without seeing my students? I honestly did not know how I would do this with any level of proficiency. Meanwhile, the rest of my team seemed to be having no problems at all.
Since mental health is one of our competencies, I started with that. I was concerned about how our students were handling things mentally and emotionally. I listed national crisis hotline numbers on our new Student Development Services Blackboard. We created a mental health section with meditations and coping activities. I was glad these resources were available online for students and wondered why I hadn’t done this before. We continued to add resources – Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Earth Day and Autism Acceptance Month. For anything we would do in person, we build a virtual version. I was feeling slightly less like a failure.
Microsoft Teams was working like a dream. It kept our team in close contact, able to see what everyone was working on in real time and allowed us to collaborate seamlessly. Again, I asked myself why I had not done this before. This was a game changer. As I put my work on Teams and asked for feedback I could see that somehow, it was working. I was moving programming online while staying student-focused and sensitive to any mental health needs that had arisen from the shelter-at-home orders.
For student affairs professionals, being separated from our students erases the entire reason we came into this profession, but, I am watching my colleagues both here at TCC and across the country rise to the occasion, meeting students right where they are. That sounds like a student affairs competency to me. I’m proud to be part of it.
Sandy Davis, a Student Development Associate at TCC South, enjoys reading and playing with her dog, Chloe.