Message from Dr. Belinda S. Miles: Navigating Uncertainty – November 6, 2020
November 6, 2020
Last Sunday, we turned our clocks back one hour in the familiar “fall back” ritual of this season that also compels us to look ahead toward the next season. Final projects, exams, and next semester plans may be combined with feelings of stress and anxiety as we maneuver through a public health crisis and experience uncertainty regarding our recent presidential election.
While we witness our democratic process at work, our students may need space to share their thoughts and feelings while they engage in academic pursuits. Here is an Education Week opinion piece that describes how during the “triple upheavals of the pandemic, the movements against structural anti-Black violence, and the election, we are collectively overwhelmed in a way that makes it challenging for us to actually listen to one another at a deep level without reactivity and projection.” This reading might be of interest as you help students process information and manage feelings of anxiety during this time.
As we continue to engage, please remind students of the many activities available through our Student Support team. Aside from personal counseling and Employee Assistance, watch for events such as the upcoming It’s Okay to Not be Okay Day – a Mental Health Task Force initiative. This month’s focus is on food insecurity, nourishment, and resources. Kristy Robinson of our Personal Counseling Department reports that the Thursday evening virtual support group, COPING, is a hit with students. This group focuses on healthy forms of managing stress and anxiety. A new addition to resources and in response to election stress is the Post-Election Support Lounge for students. Check the Personal Counseling webpage for information about these and other support services.
I reiterate the importance of these resources because Inside Higher Ed reports on a recent survey released by NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education that calls our attention to findings that college students do not utilize mental health services available on our campuses even while they are experiencing anxiety. Our holistic view of student and institutional success includes the mental health and emotional well-being of our college community, and much of our work includes ensuring that students know that we are here for them, that they are valued members of our community, and that we offer diverse resources to help them to succeed personally and academically. Thank you for encouraging students to seek assistance, if needed.
Finally, November 8 is National First-Generation College Celebration Day, which the Center for First-Generation Student Success celebrates to highlight the important contributions of our first-generation students, faculty, and staff. Watch for information on ways that Westchester Community College will celebrate our first-generation students, faculty, staff, and achievers like the WCC Humanities Institute’s Behold the Dreamer Author Talk with Imbolo Mbue at 11:00 AM on November 10 and the Student Involvement discussion at 1:00 PM on November 11 where students are invited to share what it means to be a first-generation student and other experiences. I look forward to hearing how you support first-generation students in your classroom and prepare them to be successful wherever their paths lead them.
Thank you for helping all of our students and each other navigate through uncertainty and for providing safe space to share ideas, listen to each other, and to come together as a strong and cohesive community focused on a bright future.
Thank you for your outstanding work and your unwavering commitment to our students and our mission. Enjoy the glorious sunshine this weekend!
Dr. Belinda S. Miles