Managing College Social Life Post-COVID: A Conversation with Dr. Kasi Lacey
With Spring Semester 2021 beginning this week, Dr. Kasi Lacey, Vice President and Dean of Student Life at Westminster College, wants students to know that faculty and staff are excited to see them back on campus. And while the Office of Student Life is brimming with socially distanced activity this semester, Lacey is aware that campus life is different post-COVID. Read further to see what Lacey says about managing the new-normal feelings of stress and isolation that many experience because of pandemic lifestyle changes.
What types of concerns do you see students having since last spring, post COVID?
Students, similar to the rest of the world, have learned a lot about COVID-19 and gained a deeper understanding of the disease, living in a pandemic, how to prevent the spread, guidelines on quarantine/isolation, testing, etc. The biggest challenge that I see with COVID-19 on a college campus is the anxiety and unknown it can bring as well as the potential for social isolation. Additionally, we are starting to see everyone’s natural fatigue as it relates to the topic and the desire to reconnect and socialize. Students continue to ask questions about COVID-19, the impact upon their lives, event restrictions, and how/when can we return to “normal.” I am incredibly proud of everyone’s resiliency and creativity during these times to connect safely and find ways to engage in campus involvement and events, while still adhering to social distancing and other prevention guidelines.
How is the Office of Student Life addressing these concerns?
Student Life staff strive to continue to be available, communicate, and address any concerns or questions students have regarding COVID-19. We provide regular updates via email, routine meetings, office hours, and/or on the website so that the campus is apprised to the latest information regarding COVID-19. Additionally, we continue to take a balanced approach with health and safety at the forefront in making policies and procedures. The staff continue to be creative in our programing and outreach efforts so that students stay connected and have an exceptional experience outside of the classroom. The Wellness Center Counseling Services staff have played a major role in supporting our students and the impact of COVID-19 upon their mental health.
What advice do you give students who are feeling more isolated these days?
During this time, if students feel isolated, they should look for ways to connect with their social support, including friends, family, staff, or faculty. We have incredible counseling resources, and students can attend in person or virtually if they want to connect with a counselor to discuss ways to address their feelings of isolation. Self-care is essential during these times of stress or isolation, and we encourage students to use this time to engage in fun and healthy behaviors like exercising, journaling, trying a new activity, calling a friend, getting adequate sleep, healthy eating, etc.
What sorts of socially distanced activities are planned for students this semester?
There are lots of fun and socially distanced activities planned for this spring semester. Thanks to the hard work of Campus Activities Board (and popular demand), food trucks will be back and offered throughout the spring! Campus Activities Board along with other student clubs and organizations are looking for ways to connect with students virtually and/or to offer socially distanced in-person activities. For example, next Tuesday, Campus Activities Board will be hosting a comedian that uses comedy to educate students about important mental health issues. That event which will take place in Champ Auditorium to allow for adequate social distancing.
Also, the Office of Student Life will be hosting our annual virtual and in-person Leadership Workshop. Additional examples include Green Dot Bystander outreach, a corn hole/bags tournament, Center for Faith and Service programming, Take and Create opportunities, co-sponsored movies series, virtual bingo, and trivia. There’s something for everyone!