Today's Update: Tuesday, July 7

July 7, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, 

You probably saw not long ago that the university’s domestic and international travel restrictions, initially announced in March, have been extended through the end of the year. All previously approved travel prior to that date must be canceled and nothing new can be scheduled. This includes all education abroad programs for the autumn semester.

Health concerns and cost containment certainly make this an understandable decision. Still, I know this is disappointing to our team and to students. However, there are ways to get some of the benefits without any of the risks.

For Student Life team members, much of our travel involves the opportunity to share experiences and ideas with our colleagues from other institutions. That can continue, virtually. A number of professional organizations including NASPA and ACPA are making a real effort to put sessions and seminars online in lieu of national conferences.

I know a number of our team members have regular Zoom meetings with their counterparts at other schools. Some are more formal than others, and they’re a great way to connect with others going through the same things we’re experiencing. You don’t have to be a director to make those connections; there are people at all levels of their organization who would love it if you put something together.

While travel for professional development is out, there are plenty of opportunities on campus to learn new skills and approaches. I think sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to those options in our daily busy life, but they are extremely worthwhile with the added benefit of not requiring travel. Professional development is still important, it will just be delivered, and utilized, in different ways.

The travel situation also impacts students, but that doesn’t mean the learning and impact has to stop. Buck-I-SERV is hosting webinars with community partners that show ways to get involved with service in a physically distanced way. They’re planning programming based on their traditional group structure of trip leaders and participants because the connections formed are a key part of the Buck-I-SERV experience. And they’re maintaining ties with their sites, vendors and community partners for the day when trips can resume.

There is also a great opportunity for students to become involved with service locally. Pay It Forward is maintaining a list online:  
activities.osu.edu/involvement/service_outreach/pay_it_forward/socially_distant_service/

Student Activities Service and Outreach Coordinator Alyssa Johnson has recorded a student organization program, ‘What is Socially Distant Service:”  
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj1ULr4Grq8&t=127s

Students can also be encouraged to explore Columbus, or the world, virtually. There are many virtual tours and experiences that have been developed, including by the Columbus Museum of Art: columbusmuseum.com/virtual-museum/virtualmuseum.html

University travel may be paused. But there are still Scarlet and Great ways to get some of the same experiences. Let me know if you have other ideas to share!

Melissa