President Bob Iuliano encourages students studying remotely to actively engage with the campus community for the remainder of the spring semester.
I wanted to follow up yesterday’s Wellness Day announcement with a personal note to you, our Gettysburg students studying remotely.
While this has been a difficult spring for all of us, these past three semesters have demonstrated the unique challenges facing remote students during the pandemic. I’d like to take this opportunity, at this inflection point in the semester, to speak with you about these challenges and how I hope we can partner together to best address them over the next six weeks.
From my conversations with you, I know that it has not been easy to transition from in-person classes, in which you form close personal relationships with your professors, to a virtual setting, in which you too often can feel distant or disconnected from your classmates or the coursework as a whole. You’ve shared with me the hurdles of balancing your rigorous liberal arts and sciences education with your many equally important priorities at home. And, you’ve spoken about the grind of this unusual year and how the bonds you’ve formed with friends and classmates feel as if they may be beginning to strain as the pandemic endures.
I want to be explicit in acknowledging these realities and expressing my commitment—and the College’s commitment—to supporting you. I know that engaging with the College through a screen, miles from the campus and friends, can be difficult and stressful. We are committed to doing everything we can to reduce the sense of distance that can come from being remote. In the meantime, please bear in mind that the promise of a return to more normal times is upon us as more and more people are vaccinated. As I noted recently, that promise has me eagerly anticipating our fall semester.
Below are a few ideas and resources that may help us to stay connected over the remainder of this spring semester:
- Clubs and Organizations: As you know, the College has more than 120 clubs and organizations, 70 of which are active and have been working creatively to continue their programming in a virtual capacity this spring. I understand the hesitancy you may feel, but please know your classmates are eager for your participation. I know from students studying remotely who have engaged with these organizations how much that has meant to them. Please reach out to the leadership of any and all clubs and organizations that you are interested in joining or be in touch with the Office of Student Activities and Greek Life (OSAGL) at email@example.com.
- Remote Offerings: While the College has worked hard to provide virtual activities for students this spring, there is more we can do to ensure these activities are plentiful and varied. A group of colleagues, the Virtual Programming Group, has been meeting throughout the semester and continues to think innovatively about how to create new, dynamic programming. Please email to Kelly Mathiesen, First-Year Residential Life Coordinator, with any new ideas for activities the College can offer to students. Likewise, if you have questions about how you can get involved, please reach out to Kelly and she will be happy to provide you with a number of upcoming opportunities.
- Of course, if you haven’t already, please be sure to take full advantage of the current offerings provided by the College. To name a few: OSAGL and OME co-sponsor a virtual poetry series featuring a new artist each month; Pro-Caffeinating allows students to sign up for periodic samplings of coffee and tea; and each Friday, we host virtual bingo, trivia, and showbiz quiz events, where you can compete against other schools and win prizes. Please visit engageGettysburg to learn more. Also, if you’re interested in staying informed of other happenings on campus, please check out the College’s social media channels: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also follow many other College-affiliated social accounts run by College Life for the latest resources and activities.
- Connect with the Community: If you are feeling a sense of fatigue from COVID and some of its socially isolating aspects, so too are others. Please consider reaching out to your faculty, your mentors, your classmates, and your friends—they will be thrilled to hear from you and to connect with a fellow Gettysburgian as the semester winds to a close.
- Connect with me: I want to hear from you too! I’m always interested in how you’re doing and what I can do to help you in your academic pursuits. I host virtual office hours every month for students to connect with me one-on-one. The next scheduled day will be April 12; please consider signing up. Or, if you prefer, feel free to send me an email. I want to do what I can to make your Gettysburg College experience as vibrant and meaningful as possible.
- Mental Health: The routines we’ve adopted as a society since the onset of the pandemic have been particularly wearing for us all. Sometimes, these tough days can feel too heavy for us to carry on our own. If you’re feeling this way, I encourage you to connect with Counseling Services. If Counseling Service is not in a position to provide assistance due to limitations imposed by your state’s laws (and we know some states regard remote counseling from outside the state as impermissible), our counselors will work with you to explore viable alternatives. Please reach out to Counseling Services today at 717-337-6960.
It bears repeating how proud I am of each and every one of you, in what has been an unprecedented past 13 months. Together, let’s commit to finishing this spring strong and gaining the very most out of every moment.