Albion College faculty and staff have been critical to ensuring a smooth transition to online classes due to COVID-19. From professors to administration, the college’s faculty and staff are helping students continue learning under unusual circumstances.
Among the faculty providing resources to students at Albion is the Student Development Office. Its job is to help students navigate all events that occur during their college experience. Right now, COVID-19 is affecting all students’ college experience in major ways.
“While we can’t physically engage in person as we are accustomed to as professionals, we still can have interactions remotely that employ a high level of care and concern for our students while they are engaged in instruction online,” said Leroy Wright, vice president for student development and dean of students.
A huge part of the transition to online instruction is effective communication.
“Communication during troubling times can be difficult because there are too many unknowns to navigate, but we can only do and be our best in making sure that we are communicating, even if we don’t have all the answers to the unknowns,” said Wright.
For students, excessive emails from administration and professors can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety.
“It was overwhelming trying to gather the right information from all different sources,” said Allie Dasky, a sophomore from Fenton, Mich. “However, the emails from the college were helpful to streamline necessary information.”
The Student Development Office is doing its best to keep students informed without bombarding email inboxes. Since many different outlets of the college have relevant information to share, Student Development devised a weekly newsletter to inform students of campus happenings.
“Our goal as Student Development is to package our communication as a division versus each department sending an email,” said Wright. “Our students can only manage so much information coming at them all the time and all at once. I challenged the division to be intentional and deliberate in what and how we communicate to students.”
Wright also emphasized the importance of gathering information from every source, including students. Rapidly changing facts regarding COVID-19 have made that process tougher than usual.
“This is not just an Albion College crisis, but an entire world crisis that we are all attempting to resolve to bring a sense of normalcy back into how we live our lives,” said Wright. “We have asked student leaders periodically what their thoughts are and for suggestions on how to communicate more effectively.”
Finals week is hectic even without a global pandemic looming above. As spring semester ends, Student Development is doing its best to support students. It is creating plans for students to pick up belongings left in residence buildings. In addition, it is looking forward to helping seniors celebrate a bittersweet end to four years at Albion.
“We are coming up with ways for students to celebrate their participation and engagement over the past four years,” said Wright.
Student Development acknowledges that this new, temporary norm and reality is impacting the Albion community in deep and personal ways.
“We are helping our students find closure to the academic year in the best way we can virtually,” said Wright.