Today's Update: Wednesday, April 22

April 22, 2020

Dear Student Life Team, 

I want to start by giving a thank you to some very special people in Student Life. Today is Administrative Professionals Day, and they need to know how much they are appreciated. This is the group that really gets things accomplished, but often don’t get the amount of credit they should. Putting up with me should get Stacy Smith and all of those who have to work on scheduling meetings with/for me a Scarlet and Great crown!  

As we go through life, it’s often the little things that matter most. We can’t really control the big issues, but we have the ability to make a difference in how we interact with each other. Small moments of kindness add up. It might be enough to change someone’s day. And like ripples on a pond, it spreads and grows.  

We have all been encouraged to reach out to others during this pandemic. You may have seen the social media posts suggesting you check in on five people just to make sure they are doing OK. Just that small thing shows someone you care. Of course, in Student Life, we do even small things in a big way. So instead of just checking in on a few people, we’re checking in on thousands of them.  

Nearly 250 people from Student Life and some of our university partners are checking in with Ohio State first year students, and those who are graduating next month. We’re calling them Kindness Calls, and the purpose is to make sure they are doing OK. We call, talk to the student, see how they are doing and ask if they need any additional support. If no one answers, we leave a message and follow up with an email.  

It is a massive undertaking, but worth it. We are used to having daily contact with our students and they with us. We’ve lost most of that in our COVID reality, but it is still important that our students know in a real, tangible way that, despite any distance, we are still there for them. The personal contact of a phone call shows them that this big university cares for them in a personal way. It’s a small gesture that means a great deal.  

So far, 4,000 outreaches have been made. The Residence Life, Dining and Student Health teams have really stepped up in this project, with dozens of staff members each working the phones. A number of departments have virtually their entire roster making calls.  

The vast majority of students tell our callers that they are doing well, falling into the “positive” category when asked how they are doing in the midst of this life change due to COVID-19. The numbers of those who could be described as having a negative response is less than 5%. And more than 70% report a positive experience with their virtual classes.  

I am extremely impressed with the resilience and flexibility our students are showing. These are difficult times, and many of our students have not been through anything remotely as disruptive as this pandemic. Yet they are persevering, and even thriving.  

There are lessons here for all of us. We are each facing new challenges, but our ability to face them with a positive outlook and kindness toward ourselves and others can go a long way.  

It’s all about being Scarlet and Great!