I wanted to check in and let you know that I am thinking about you every day. This has been a challenging semester for all of us, and it’s important that you recognize how much you have inspired all of us with your ability to make the transition to online learning and heed social distancing requirements at this unprecedented time. Take a moment to reflect on how you have been able to adapt, overcome challenges and continue to roll forward. You are doing astonishingly well and should be very proud of yourselves. We are all very proud of you, our students.
Dr. Folt recently said something that I thought really captured the spirit of these days — “We are not where we thought we would be, we are not where we want to be, but it is where we are.” It is up to us to make the best out of what we have been given. I certainly didn’t enter the field of education to talk to people through my computer, especially the people who I care about the most — you, the students. But just because we are socially distanced doesn’t mean we have to be psychologically isolated from one another and so please know that I and my staff still very much care about you and very much support you no matter what you are going through, either personally or educationally. You may not be able to see us but while we are working in our own living rooms and at our own kitchen tables, we are focused on ensuring that you are safe, healthy and well-educated, just like we do when we are all together at USC.
I miss seeing you out and about on campus, and I’m looking forward to the time we can all return to our community together. But know that you can continue to engage in student life while staying true to social distancing. Our programs – from cultural communities to campus activities – are still active and encourage your participation:
- Consider dropping in on a virtual lounge hangout or learning some Tik Tok dance moves at an upcoming virtual student life event. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by these fun and unique activities.
- Via our career center, you can still get live resume critique and one-on-one coaching, interview with a hiring manager via Zoom or another video platform, gain industry insights and speak face-to-face with an employer at a Trojan Talk session or virtual career fair.
I work with a team that goes to bed every night and wakes every day thinking about you and how we can better serve you at this critical time. I want to draw your attention to several resources available to support you through any financial, housing, food or other hardship you and your family may be facing in this crisis:
- If you need assistance with basic needs like food or housing, our Student Basic Needs Department can help.
- Students in need of financial assistance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are eligible for assistance. Please complete the application for COVID-19 emergency assistance, and visit coronavirus.usc.edu/support-funds-faqs for more information.
- If you are struggling or facing a complex challenge and need support, do not hesitate to contact Campus Support and Intervention at email@example.com. Their office is designed to help our community navigate such challenges.
- If you need mental health and counseling services, USC Student Health has transitioned to TeleHealth counseling visits; distance offerings include workshops on strategies to cope with sleeping issues and anxiety; therapy groups; Let’s Talk drop-ins, which consist of 30 minute sessions with a counselor, with no appointment necessary and are available to all students in any part of the world.
- USC has also worked with The Jed Foundation to develop content for a Mental Well-Being for Students online module, available to all USC students, that guides you through some of the ways to enhance your emotional and mental well-being.
It goes without saying that one of the worst byproducts of the pandemic will impact us most painfully when an in-person graduation does not take place on campus next month. The graduation ceremony is one of the true milestones in your life. We will confer our degrees virtually on Friday, May 15 and enjoy a day of celebration. We are also planning for an in-person commencement at a later date. You will be hearing more about our plans from Dr. Folt very soon.
While we do not know when you will return to campus, the good news is that we are deep into planning for your safe return. When the time comes to welcome you back, we will be ready. I look forward to seeing you all on campus, as soon as it is safe to do so. While there are many landmark events that regularly take place on our beautiful and unique campus such as football games, concerts, festivals and other gatherings, this crisis has made me hungry for a normal day. Just an average day, with traffic jams and smiles and “hellos” and mistakes and trouble finding a parking spot. The rest will take care of itself. But right now, I’ll just take good ol’ normal.
In the last weeks of classes and with finals approaching, I urge you to stay confident in your academic abilities and maintain your high standards for integrity. Your focus on academics in the midst of this global crisis is admirable, and we are already so very proud of your efforts. I also encourage you to be gentle with yourselves and make your own mental health and well-being a priority. Keep checking in and looking out for one another. I am thinking about all of you every day and invite you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay safe, be well and continue to Fight On!
Winston B. Crisp
Vice President for Student Affairs