I hope everyone is getting settled into the new term. I know that as we’ve prepared for the return to campus and start of classes, I’ve shared a lot of things not to do: Don’t hang out in groups, don’t get within 6 feet of each other, don’t go anywhere without a face covering, etc. I think all these “don’ts,” while necessary, have left some people thinking, “Is there anything I can do these days?”
The good news is that the answer is yes. Here are a few ideas of things you can do no matter where you are: in Boston or studying remotely. And while it probably goes without saying, face coverings and physical distancing should be maintained while doing any of the below!
What Can I Do?
Keep in touch with people: While physical distancing is important, so is staying connected. Technology allows us to maintain connections in ways that weren’t possible even just a few years ago. Brush off the dusty Facebook account and say hi to an old friend. Post more on Insta. Log back into Minecraft or play a game of Fortnite with friends. Crash someone’s Animal Crossing Island. Or go retro: Make a card or write a letter to send through the actual mail. It feels good to send and good to receive. (If you’ve never mailed something before, we can help out.)
Zoom pro tip: Make sure you’re registered for a Zoom account through Emerson so you have the benefits of our site license rather than just the Basic features. You’ll get unlimited time and up to 300 participants for any meetings you host. Go to zoom.emerson.edu to get started.
Join an org (it’s not too late!): Student organizations are operating differently this semester, but most of them are still operating. Orgs are a great way to connect with people who share common interests. Just sign into EmConnect to find and join orgs. If you missed the virtual org fair, no worries! You can still check out many of the orgs’ intro videos on FlipGrid! And you can always reach out through EmConnect.
Go to an event: EmConnect is also the place to check out events. You’ll see upcoming sessions hosted by orgs, offices, and residence halls. Since almost all events are happening online, you can participate from anywhere with an Internet connection.
Catch some Bright Lights: The fall calendar of Emerson’s own free film series kicks off this week with films screened synchronously at 7:00 pm every Thursday, followed by live moderated conversations with filmmakers and activists. As part of its commitment to providing access for people with disabilities, both in the Emerson community and beyond, all films and live moderated conversations will be captioned. This season includes 12 films with a focus on social justice and equity. Check out the fall season trailer and full fall calendar.
Exercise: Exercise keeps your body and mind in good shape. If you’re in Boston, Emerson’s Fitness Center is open by reservation from 7:00 am-9:00 pm at 52 Summer Street. You must fill in the membership enrollment form if you haven’t before. Prefer to exercise at home? Find workouts of every kind for every level online, including yoga, pilates, barre, and dance.
Do some reflection: Keep a journal — written, audio, visual, musical — to make sense of your feelings and to document what life is like right now. Doing some real-time conscious processing of our experiences can help us handle the ups and downs better, and your record of this time will be interesting later on. You might also want to check out the Wisdom Wednesdays weekly online meditation sessions (link available on EmConnect).
Create: Apply your time and energy to creating, learning something new, or getting crafty. Color draw, design, animate, storyboard, film, photograph, compose, arrange, spin, record, conceive, problem-solve, write, choreograph, play, act, knit, bead, draft, sew, fashion, paint, sculpt. Draw on your experience of life during the pandemic or something totally unrelated.
Game on and puzzle it out: Video, board, card, role-playing, quiz, dice, strategy, word, skill, chance. Crossword, logic, Sudoku, jigsaw, lateral thinking, number, word, mechanical. If you get tired of playing or solving them, try your hand at designing them.
Take advantage of campus resources: Campus offices are still open, even if most staff are working from home. Set up a time to talk to someone in the Career Development Center — even if you’re a first-year student (really!). Reach out to Academic Advising to learn about options for doing a minor or how to plan your courses to do study abroad or Emerson Los Angeles. Schedule time with the WARC (Writing and Academic Resource Center) or the Speech Lab if you’re looking for help with classes. If you identify as having a disability and have questions or need support, contact Student Accessibility Services.
Emerson’s Counseling and Psychological Services, the Center for Spiritual Life, Intercultural Student Affairs, the Center for Health and Wellness, Healing and Advocacy Collective, Student Success — among other campus resources — are all still open and ready to work with you.
Serve or volunteer: Look into becoming a Corps Member at Emerson’s chapter of Jumpstart or check out the other programs offered by Emerson’s Elma Lewis Center. Or take a look at the COVID-related volunteer opportunities that you can do virtually, at home, or in person coordinated by Boston Cares, the largest volunteer agency in New England.
For Our Remote Learners
If you are one of the hundreds of students studying remotely this semester, you are still part of the Emerson community. The campus isn’t the same without all of you. We know that it’s harder to feel connected when you’re not physically here. Lindsay Debrosse, your current Student Government Association (SGA) president, is studying remotely this term. She shared this:
“From personal experience I know how difficult it can be to adjust to online classes, especially if you’re not used to it. With some time and encouragement, I’ve been able to find balance between work, school, and being the president of the Student Government Association. Emerson and student orgs have been adjusting very well to doing things more remotely. I know it’s not the same as being in the same space with your peers, but participating in organizations can help fill the gap so many of us feel. Most organizations have been meeting via Zoom as a replacement for organization meetings. If you are still unsure about how to partake in the organization(s) of your choice then you can always go to EmConnect to reach out to leaders on how to get more involved. It’s been helpful attending, and participating in organizations back on campus to help make the distance feel a little smaller.”
We couldn’t agree more. One upside of the fact that much of our operations are now online — even for campus-based learners — is that you don’t have to be here in Boston to participate in a lot that’s going on. You can get involved in orgs. You can participate in events. You can use campus services. You can meet up with friends and classmates online to study, do projects, or just hang out together. We hope you’ll do all of those things, because our community will be richer for your participation.
And for those of you who are back in Boston, don’t forget about your peers who are studying remotely this semester. Include them in what you’re doing. Most of the time it will be easy to do so using technology. For those times when it’s not quite as easy, take a sec to imagine yourself in their place. With empathy, imagination, and creativity, I think we can all find ways to stay connected and maintain a spirit of community across the distance.
Vice President and Dean for Campus Life