In A Nutshell: February 5, 2021

February 5, 2021

Dear Partners in Student Success:

It’s hard to believe we are rounding the fourth week of the semester, and campus has certainly come much more to life with the resumption of in-person classes and the residential experience. Below offers some updates and information I hope will be helpful to you in supporting the students we serve together:

COVID-19 Updates

Student Organization Events and Gatherings Update

Of the many challenges the pandemic has presented, chief among them has been the restrictions on bringing students together because this limits opportunities to create community and facilitate peer interaction, both of which are critical to student engagement and success. Now that the university has resumed in-person courses and the city’s stay-at-home order is set to expire next week, we can begin to look at ways to safely and productively bring small groups together. On Tuesday, I shared with our student organization leaders that we are hoping to resume limited in-person activities as early as next week. To provide a bit more detail about the current plan, below is an overview:

  • Monday, February 8: Allow student organizations to begin submitting requests to host events and/or gatherings of ten or fewer people.
  • Friday, February 12: Events/gatherings of ten or fewer to begin.

The full message to the student organization community can be found on the Student Activities website.

Quarantine and Isolation Support and Programming

One of our most important and effective tools in slowing the spread of COVID-19 is the ability to quarantine and isolate those who either test positive for the virus or who have come in contact with someone who is infected. We offer both quarantine and isolation housing for student who live on-campus. We also developed a list of local hotels that will house students living in the off-campus area who are unable to quarantine or isolate safely in their off-campus housing.

While being able to place students in this housing is important for the health and safety of the community, supporting the students in a variety of ways is important too. We provide resources and support during the Q/I experience, including:

  • Wellness check-in calls for both our on-campus and off-campus students to help connect them with additional resources, like Student Life Disability Services or academic advising support.
  • Access to a private website that includes special programming and activities just for students in quarantine and isolation, like fitness classes, microwave cooking classes and arts and crafts.
  • Coordinated deliveries for students in on-campus quarantine and isolation housing, including prepackaged food for 2-3 days at a time that students can keep in their refrigerator and reheat.

COVID-19 Testing and Incentives

As a reminder, all students on the Columbus campus and all students who live in university housing across our campuses are required to complete weekly COVID-19 testing. Voluntary testing is also offered to all students on the regional campuses. Students who schedule and complete a weekly test are eligible for a variety of incentives, like gift cards, special tours and opportunities on campus, tech products and more. Incentives will change each week and those who test consistently will be entered to win larger prizes. Prizes will be randomly drawn on a weekly basis. More information can be found on the Safe and Healthy Buckeyes website.

Administrative Updates

As I shared in my last update, the Student Life senior leadership team continues be developed. Following are some updates:

  • Dr. Danny Glassmann will join the Student Life Team as our Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Support starting March 29. Dr. Glassmann, currently the Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at San Francisco State University, is an experienced, student-centered student affairs leader with deep background and expertise in creating and assessing strategies and programs that advance student learning, success and engagement. For more information, visit the Student Life website.
  • Ryan Lovell will serve as an Associate Dean of Students in addition to directing Parent and Family Relations. Ryan will also directly support the Student Advocacy Center, Student Conduct, Sorority and Fraternity Life and other strategic initiatives for the portfolio. For more information, visit the Student Life website.
  • Dr. Matt Couch will maintain his role as Associate Dean of Students and director of Student Activities and Student Life Orientation. He will also directly support the Ohio Union, serve as our liaison to the regional campuses and be the primary advisor to the Undergraduate Student Government, in addition to advancing other strategic initiatives for the area. For more information, visit the Student Life website.

Student Engagement

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month

Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Heritage Month is a month-long celebration that uplifts APIDA identities, experiences, histories and cultures. APIDA Heritage Month 2021 started on January 11 and runs through February 12. This year’s theme is “Our Time, Our Space, Our Place.” The Student Life Multicultural Center creates and highlights programming that centers on the APIDA experience, and aims to inspire confidence, pride and deepened interest in what it means to move through the world as an APIDA individual. Learn more on the Student Life Multicultural Center’s website.

United Black World Month (UBWM)

The Student Life Multicultural Center, in collaboration with various departmental offices and student organizations, annually celebrates United Black World Month, also known as Black History Month. This year's United Black World Month theme is centered around Black Lives: Narratives of Activism Around the World and will include speakers, artists, panels and various other programs. Learn more on the Student Life Multicultural Center’s website.

Residential Experience Survey

In October, Student Life conducted the annual Residential Experience Survey. Results have been helpful to us in planning for and improving the student experience this semester. A core aspect of the survey assessed students’ experiences with virtual programming and events. Key findings included:

  • 69% of residential students reported that they have engaged in virtual programming or events.
  • Over 60% of students reported being most interested in events related to health and well-being, social or entertainment events.
  • Students report that they appreciate when programs and events allow time for more intimate interactions with peers through breakout rooms and random pairings. Among students who report they have made friends through virtual programming, 68% made friends via breakout rooms and 45% made friends through random pairings.

Student Support

Virtual Career Fairs

The Ohio State career services community has come together to offer a safe option for students to connect with hiring organizations using the virtual career fair feature in Handshake, Ohio State’s university-wide career management and job search system. Several virtual career fair events are scheduled in the next month for students to connect with hundreds of employers for internships, co-ops and full-time career opportunities. Below is a list of upcoming virtual career fair events:

  • Construction Virtual Career Fair on Tuesday, February 16
  • Environmental & Sustainability Career Fair on Wednesday, February 17
  • Social Work Job Fair on Thursday, February 18
  • Food and Agricultural Sciences Spring Career Fair on Thursday, February 18
  • Summer Internship and Opportunity Fair on Thursday, March 4

For more information on the virtual career fair schedule, please visit the Buckeye Careers website.

#BeKind Instagram Wall Contest and Coca-Cola Discovery Fund Art Empowerment

Artists and creatives are invited to participate in two opportunities in the month of February:

  • #BeKind Instagram Walls Contest: The Office of Student Life and Kind Columbus are hosting a contest for Ohio State students, faculty, staff, alumni and Columbus community members to submit artwork that could be featured in outdoor spaces around campus. These Instagrammable Walls will help promote kindness, positivity and mental health support in our neighborhoods. In addition to seeing their artwork displayed around campus, winners of the #BeKind Instagram Wall Contest will also receive $500 to donate to a non-profit organization from the Columbus Foundation's Giving Store of their choice. Learn more on the Kindness at Ohio State website.
  • Coca-Cola Discovery Fund Art Empowerment, "To Be Heard, To Be Seen, To Belong”: Student Life’s Residence Life team is calling undergraduate and graduate artists from diverse backgrounds to be part of a juried mix media exhibition, “To Be Heard, To Be Seen, To Belong.” This collection seeks to uplift the journeys all Ohio State students take to be seen, to be heard and to belong. Honorariums and kick-starter grants are available for this opportunity. All artwork must be available to display during the 2021-2022 academic year. Learn more on the Residence Life website.

Mental Health Resources and Services

Students’ mental health and wellbeing can impact their success in the classroom, and we want to help them be well and thrive. At Ohio State there are many resources available to support mental health. From videos to one-on-one consultations and the Ohio State: Wellness app, there is something available to help 24/7. More information on the resources and services available can be found on the Counseling and Consultation Service website.

Mask On/Mood Up Initiative

Our Buckeyes face many challenges that can cause stress, and the pandemic has heightened this. That’s why the Office of Student Life, Office of the Chief Wellness Officer and the College of Nursing is introducing the Mask On/Mood Up initiative. This campaign encourages doing three simple wellness tactics that can make a proven difference: deep abdominal breathing, self-affirmation and gratitude. Learn more on the Mask On/Mood Up website.

As always, I thank you for your partnership. Never before has it been so important to join together to support our entire student body, across campuses and programs, from undergraduates to professional and graduate students. All my best to you – stay warm and stay well.

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