March 18, 2020
To my Susquehanna families,
My name is Susan. Many of you know me through my position as vice president for student life, or the emails I send during times such as this.
I am also a mom of Thomas, a college junior, and Peter, a high school senior. As I’m sure you can relate, Thomas is upset about his cycling season being canceled at his university, worried about his internship interviews, and curious how his lab could possibly be taught online. Peter is wondering if he should ask someone to the prom, if his college admitted student days will continue, and if he’ll be able to make it to the track & field state meet again this year.
When the boys were little, we often built forts in our family room, dressed in our pajamas, and settled in to watch a movie as a family. Last night, in order to create a sense of normalcy for our family, we did just that. My husband and I, together with our now 21- and 18-year-old sons, settled in with blankets and pillows to watch Frozen 2!
As we navigate the challenges COVID-19 has presented, we are trying to create a sense of normalcy at Susquehanna as well. This past Sunday, our university chaplain and the director of the Career Development Center volunteered to help residence life staff. They spent the afternoon watering plants, feeding fish and freeing refrigerators of expired items. When students return to campus, we don’t want them to have additional messes to clean.
Our dean of students has been mailing forgotten items home to students, including some medication, several textbooks and four retainers! We want our students to have everything they need so they can concentrate on their online courses. Our women’s lacrosse coach — sensitive to the seniors who wouldn’t experience their last season as River Hawks — planned a spontaneous celebration at their spring break game. The celebration was complete with flowers for all SU seniors, as well as for seniors from the competing team.
This is why I love working at Susquehanna. I am blessed to be surrounded by colleagues who go above and beyond, every day, to assist students, to improve their experiences, and to show them how much Susquehanna cares.
As we move past the next few days of extended spring break and into online instruction, the student life team will work on ways to keep students connected to Susquehanna. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion is continuing to host its weekly Let’s Talk lunch sessions via Instagram Live. The Center for Academic Success will continue to offer tutoring to students. The Office of Leadership and Engagement is creating lists of fun things students can do to relieve stress during times of social distancing, and our dean of health and wellness is producing videos to help students manage anxiety. Our coaches continue their efforts with the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee to move their creative DIII Week plans to virtual communities.
Keeping in mind social distancing guidelines for health and safety, campus still has some life but feels a little different. We have 70 students on campus with us because they are unable to travel home for a variety of reasons. As a mom, I want their families to know that we are doing our best to feed and care for them. Our dining services remain open daily and we have a food pantry that students can access for late-night snacks. We are providing health and counseling services, and our residence life and public safety staff remains available at all hours.
I have received many phone calls and emails from students and parents. I welcome the opportunity to connect with our families, to answer questions, and to listen to your concerns.
Just as I help Thomas process his potential internship feedback and advise Peter on that perfect “promposal,” I want to be able to help you and your family with any challenges you may be having. Please continue to call and email with questions, encourage your children to reach out for assistance, and keep us posted if there is anything you think we should know about your Susquehanna experience.
Thank you for allowing me to care for your students,
VP for Student Life