4 Ways Campuses Are Helping Students Stay Healthy

As faculty begin teaching courses online en mass, a host of student affairs professionals accustomed to doing much of their work in person are also shifting to remote support, programming and new ways of thinking. Each higher education professional association (e.g. NASPA, ACPA, ACURA, NACUC) is striving to support their members in this time of transition and to help those professionals support their campuses virtually.   

This week, we wanted to share some of the heartfelt and helpful ways campus staff and administrators are helping students stay healthy in this moment of global crisis. We’ll keep adding to this list as great examples come in. 

1. Reach out to Share New Resources 

Many offices are reaching out to students with resources that have shifted online. Northeastern University’s Center for Spirituality, Dialogue, and Service Executive Director, Alex Kern, sent a message to the student body with 13 tips for Caring for Self and Others in Times of Trouble. In addition, the e-mail told students how to access resources like: the office’s guided meditations, yoga, and religious literacy videos on YouTube; confidential spiritual advising online by appointment; online prayer requests virtual dinner dialogue; a new short film; and call for submission for a global journal. 

Harvard Divinity School has a broad range of resources linked online, including an invitation for students tshare daily reflections and inspiration via Facebook and Instagram, to be included in their weekly e-mails. 

2. RepurposExisting Projects and Resources for this Moment 

Campuses have been focused on cultivating students’ whole being, health and resiliency for years. Wofford College’s Resilience Project has a set of “Well-Being Exercises” that they are reviving in this moment to support students’ well-being through a range of practice and activity suggestions, including a gratitude journal, focusing on strengths, meditations (mindfulness and loving kindness), kindness experiences, positive communications and growth, forgiveness, and cultivating grit. In addition to these resources students can use, Ron Robinson, Wofford’s Perkins-Prothro Chaplain & Professor of Religion, is also reaching out to their Christian, Jewish and Muslim students to wish them well around their upcoming holy days of Easter, Passover and Ramadan. 

Westminster College’s Office for Global Peace and Spirituality is moving their Co-Exist Cafes online and focusing the conversation on Healing and Hope in Changing Times. They’re getting creative with the joy of food and sending meals to participants who would otherwise be eating together. 

Similarly Warren Wilson College’s Spiritual Life Office is hosting a virtual interfaith potluck themed on routines and ritual. Even the classic practices of sharing a meal together can be reimagined in a time of physical distancing. 

3. Connect in New Ways 

Campus staff are connecting with students in new ways – speaking directly to students’ hearts through videos like this message from Chapman University’s Director of Wellbeing.   

Trinity University’s President is regularly sharing video messages with ideas and practices to navigate this moment. 

As every campus considers how to adapt graduation celebrations to today’s remote reality many are exploring social media campaigns in which students can highlight pictures and share memories, and family members can submit well wishes. Campuses are considering how to best adapt campus traditions, build community and help students grieve online. At Rider University, Student Engagement has developed a host of programs and events, including Open Door Conversations with the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. They are connecting with local clergy to host virtual office hours for students who return home and can’t easily access the traditions and practices that they have come to rely upon or that they are newly exploring in this anxious time. 

4. Share Clear Guidance and Resources Online 

Elon University’s Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life clearly lays out a range of resources online, including a Chaplain’s Fund (to support students, faculty, and staff who are in need of additional support because of an unexpected crisis or emergency), ways to Contact a ChaplainReflections and Resources, and Virtual Programs and Events. 

The University of California’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion shared a guide to Equity and Inclusion during Covid-19.  

Northwestern University informs and shares resources with students about attending to the Eight Dimensions of Wellness (during Covid-19 and any other time). 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

This is a sampling of sacred texts and statements, listed in alphabetical order by religion, that religious communities have used to engage in the work of public health amidst this global pandemic.
Ms. Moore discusses what an Office of Equity and Racial Justice does, how she and her team adapted amid the pandemic, and how religious communities are crucial partners for social change, connection, and healing.  
"We know that people of all faiths and philosophical traditions hold shared values that can serve as a foundation for a common life together."
How do we fight the evil and darkness during this time? No matter how small or how far we might be from the situation, we could use our voices to speak up, come to stand together as one human kind.
Musa writes an insightful analysis of data at the intersection of race and religion. He writes: "non-Black Americans seem to be fleeing religion because it’s become too political. Blacks seem to be leaving because it’s not political enough."
And as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, the currently closed museum is highlighting these artifacts tied to Islam on its website's blog.
In light of the urgent need for care within our families, communities, and movements, where can and should interfaith leaders fit in?
In the United States, our laws assure the separation of Church and State. So Sikh and Muslim kids growing up in public schools will never be taught that Jesus was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Vaisakhi, which falls April 13 or 14 depending on which of two dueling calendars one follows, marks the day in 1699 when Sikhism took its current form.
The presentation focused on how chaplains and spiritual life professionals can discover and utilize meaningful data to demonstrate the value of their work in higher education.
Still, there were glimmers that Ramadan 2021 could feel less restricted than last year, when Islam’s holiest period coincided with the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ramadan, the holiest month of the Islamic calendar commemorating Muhammad’s reception of the Qur’an, begins on Monday.
"Ramadan can be an opportunity for Muslims in interfaith relationships to introduce their partners to the core beliefs and teachings of Islam, as well as to the ways different Muslim cultures share what is a deeply communal experience."
This year, Ramadan will begin on Monday or Tuesday (April 12 or 13), depending on when Muslims around the world sight the new moon that signals the beginning of the lunar month.
"In the Qur’an, God – Exalted Be He – proclaims that we should ask the people endowed with knowledge…All the experts are saying the same thing: please get vaccinated and do it now."
"Among the topics educators must address to reduce bullying and to ensure representation in the classroom are religion and religious identity."
Whether I am based in Los Angeles, Washington DC, or Kansas City, I remain committed to building bridges of mutual respect and understanding among people of different backgrounds.
Biden said the partnership between the seminary and a community health center is one of many that are happening between religious and medical organizations across the nation.
"All the more so, we need more translators to help us understand what exists before our eyes, yet remains elusive to our understanding."
'Montero' is the anthem of a Black gay man roaring back from years of self-hate caused by anti-LGBTQ+ theologies. As a queer child of the Black church, it’s an anthem that resonates with me.
The rise of the "nones" — people who say they have no religion — is to some extent the result of a shift in how Americans understand religious identity.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.