The Elon Student Government Association hosted President Connie Book and Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley in the Great Hall tonight to discuss current and future issues involving COVID-19 and student activities such as graduation, classes and events.
Students and representatives attended virtually and in person, and asked questions to the administrators, with Dooley also posing questions to Book.
Caroline Penfield, the current class of 2022 treasurer and executive treasurer-elect, asked Book about hybrid learning and its place at Elon moving out of the pandemic in the future,
Book said that while Elon has utilized remote learning, only about 300 students have opted to take classes fully virtual.
“Elon embraces the residential campus. At the heart of that is in the majority of students wanting to return to face-to-face classrooms,” Book said. “I do think the faculty and students are going to want some of the assets that the hybrid environment has brought us.”
According to Book, some of the benefits of hybrid and online classes have been easier access to recorded lectures and accessibility for alumni to engage with students remotely in classes.
Dooley said some of the drawbacks are that student’s stress levels may be enhanced with the increase in connectivity that goes beyond the classroom.
“One of the great things about technology is [that it’s] always on, you can always be connected, but one of the downfalls is it's always on, you can always be connected,” Dooley said.
He also went into detail on how the university is working on creating a wellness culture on campus.
“Some of that is helping students learn how to pace themselves, that you know your job in college is to not try to check off every single box,” he said. “The goal is not to have a signature line at the end of your email that's longer than the email itself.”
Book also detailed the purpose of the Act-Belong-Commit wellness initiative that the university is using to promote mental health to students, and she hopes it promotes students to try new activities with people to ease the stresses of hyper-connectivity that have been brought about by the pandemic.
“Act-Belong-Commit is this simple framework to do something with someone, because we know so much natural healing happens in the company of each other,” Book said. “Commit to taking that action and finding your sense of purpose.”
SGA executive treasurer Andrew Ciampa asked about the administration’s progress with determining what graduation will look like this year for the senior class as more and more students are getting vaccinated.
“With our models, we are hoping to have the ability for at least some of your family members to be able to participate, that's the goal,” Book said, with the official announcement being this week. “It’s about how we are able to deliver that in a healthy and safe way.”
Book said that the university is also thinking about the impact the pandemic had on last year's graduating seniors, whose commencement was virtual.
“We are planning a ceremony, and we’re trying to figure out when and how,” Book said. “Right now, none of our models show us coupling the class of 2020 with the class of 2021.”