In A Nutshell: February 19, 2021

February 19, 2021

Dear Partners in Student Success:

We are nearing the first instructional break of the semester, and I hope you are able to join our students in taking some time to reset your mind and body after the first several weeks of the semester. Below are a few updates and information I hope you find helpful: 

COVID-19 Updates 

Student Organization Events and Gatherings  

In my last update, I shared that we were hoping to resume student organizations’ events and gatherings of ten or fewer on Friday, February 12. I am pleased to report that we did, indeed, facilitate this resumption of activity. Since opening up this opportunity, we’ve seen requests from 44 student organizations and around 50 events and gatherings have taken place in the Ohio Union as of today. We currently have more than 50 programs scheduled to take place in the facility each of the next two weeks.

Formal and informal interaction among students can contribute to student success and retention, so we are so pleased to allow these opportunities in a way that upholds the university’s Safe and Healthy requirements. If you work with a student organization that has questions about how to safely host an event or gathering, feel free to refer them to our Student Activities team at  

COVID-19 Testing Incentives  

As you know, we have expanded our testing requirements and capacity this semester and launched an incentive strategy to drive testing compliance. So far, we have selected nearly 200 students to receive priority course scheduling and another 750 have received a variety of gift cards from local and national retailers. I thought you might be interested to see the most requested gift card locations: 

  • Amazon  
  • Chipotle  
  • Target  
  • Dunkin Donuts 
  • Nike 
  • Uber Eats 
  • Southwest Airlines 
  • Local options have included: The Book Loft, North Market and Mid High Market 

Incentives are set to change each week and those who test consistently will be entered to win larger prizes, including 20 MacBooks up for grabs among those who are compliant with testing all semester. Prizes will be randomly drawn on a weekly basis. More information can be found on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Student Engagement 

Student Engagement and Experience Delegates Applications  

On Sunday, February 21, the application for the 2021-22 cohort of the Student Engagement and Experience Delegates (SEEDs) program will open. I started this program last semester as a way to gather feedback and ideas from as many students as possible. SEEDs are students from any program, level and leadership experience who are interested in contributing their ideas for the best Ohio State possible, and all undergraduate, graduate and professional students from any campus are invited to apply. The application will close on March 21 at 5 p.m. More information is available on the Student Life website.  

Love Your Body Week
The Student Wellness Center, along with other Student Life departments and university partners, is hosting Love Your Body Week, February 22-26. This week of events is devoted to educating, celebrating and creating a sustainable and supportive campus environment for all body types and experiences. Love Your Body Week is open to all students, staff and faculty. More information is available on the Student Wellness Center website.  

43rd Annual African American Heritage Festival
The 43rd Annual African American Heritage Festival will begin on February 26 and run through March 6. This year the festival will center around the word "Furaha," which is the Swahili word for Rejoicing. The weeklong festival will feature talent and poetry showcases, intriguing cultural awareness programs and the annual Gospel Fest. A full list of events can be found on the festival website.

Buckeye Connections
In my first In a Nutshell message, I shared about Buckeye Connections, a series of fun, relaxed conversations that are facilitated by trained student leaders with the simple goal of helping students build their network of friends on campus. Our first Buckeye Connections cohorts began virtually meeting on February15, and so far we have 10 active groups and 88 total participants, including undergraduate and graduate students. Students can begin signing up for our next set of sessions which will start on Monday, March 8 and run through Friday, April 9.  If you know of a student who might benefit from this program, please encourage them to sign up. More information can be found at

Student Support 

Tackling Challenges with Coach Day: Mental Health During a Pandemic 

On Thursday, February 25, at 4:30 p.m., Coach Ryan Day will provide a virtual keynote address on the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, while sharing his own personal story. This event was developed by students and is being supported by the Office of Student Life, Undergraduate Student Government, OUAB, Block O, MindVersity, Mental Health Matters and Student-Athlete Peer Educators. Registration is open to all students, staff and faculty and is available at

Buckeye Peer Access Line and Programs
Do you know a student who may need a little extra support? They can call  Buckeye PAL. The Buckeye Peer Access Line (PAL) is a non-emergency talk line that provides a space for students to engage in brief phone conversations in order to gain support and learn about campus resources. Buckeye PAL operates Monday through Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight, when classes are in session during fall and spring semesters. This semester, the group is also offering virtual group sessions called How Are You REALLY Doing? For a schedule of programs and more information about Buckeye PAL, visit the Student Wellness Center website.

I hope this weekend you are able to dig out from the snow and cold temperatures and take time doing something you enjoy. Thank you, again, for the partnerships we have developed that are so important to creating an extraordinary student experience for all students at Ohio State.

Melissa S. Shivers, PhD
Senior Vice President for Student Life