Virtual activities like exercise classes and Life is for Service Challenge engage community
As Rollins students, faculty, and staff acclimate to online learning, Rollins administration is brainstorming new ways to keep its sense of community alive.
Residential Life & Explorations is working hard to continue campus life and mentorships despite the circumstances.
“All the hall directors have been reaching out to their residents,” said Leon Hayner, associate dean of students. “Some of them have even been hosting their weekly hall director programs where they can pop into WebEx and say hello.”
Ward Hall Director Kaela Brown is assisted by her puppy Biden to encourage students to log in, ask questions, and express themselves.
“We’re trying to do some additional push—out of web and video messages—to encourage students to do kind things for each other and to help their communities stay engaged,” said Hayner. “We’re really really trying. One of the things that’s special about a Rollins education is the individual relationships and the individual outreach that you get.”
Hayner also acknowledged the #TarsTogether initiative that both the Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement (CICI) and the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE) are spearheading.
“The goal [of #TarsTogether] is to create a repository,” said Meredith Hein, director of CLCE. “We’re just helping to create a space where everyone can say ‘these are the things we’re doing’ or ‘these are the things we’d like to do.’”
#TarsTogether offers students and staff a variety of activities to participate in, both on screen and off, including a coloring page designed by Rev. Katrina Jenkins.
“Our goal is … for other folks to help create efforts, initiatives, programs, [and] incentives,” said Meredith Hein, director of CLCE.
Students are welcome to submit virtual programming ideas to #TarsTogether, and they can check their emails for more information regarding submission details.
Abby Hollern, director of CICI, said, “We miss students’ faces as much as we miss Rollins. What I hope is for people to keep doing it and to keep getting involved and stay connected.”
Administration also recently launched an effort called the Life is For Service Challenge, which calls on the Rollins community to support others while social distancing. Support can be shown through buying from local businesses, delivering groceries to elderly neighbors, or by writing positive messages in chalk on the sidewalk.
Students, staff, and alumni are encouraged to post a picture or story on instagram of their participation in the initiative while tagging Rollins College and adding #RollinsLife.
Other efforts to keep Rollins connected are being made in the Rollins Sports department. Nate Arrowsmith, director of intramural and recreational sports, has been working to provide athletic Tars ways to stay active at home.
“We currently offer four classes a week since we were dismissed,” said Arrowsmith. “We have yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., and Zumba on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.”
Sustainability and availability are also at the forefront of Arrowsmith’s mind: “We have been experimenting with the best, most sustainable way to put [the classes] out there,” he said. “Not everyone’s on Instagram, not all students use Facebook, and Zoom has its hiccups as well.”
Arrowsmith looks at the pros and cons of each platform to determine the best place to host group fitness classes. The Facebook page Rollins RecSports also publishes updates on current group fitness classes.
In addition, Rollins offers a competitive esports team. Esports relates to competitive online video gaming, and Rollins has approximately 30 students currently competing, said Arrowsmith.
“We are a part of the national organization for competitive gaming. We’ve been on board since the fall,” said Arrowsmith. Any Rollins student can join by sending an email to Arrowsmith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As these initiatives push forward, administration wants students to remember that Rollins is a community that sticks together.
“I keep reminding students who I’m talking with that this is temporary,” said Hollern. “This is not going to be our new forever … Remember that on the days that it’s really hard … we’re still here and we’re still ready to help in any way that we can. You are still at the forefront of everything that we do.”