How UWT proceeds in light of COVID-19

As students, faculty and staff continue to adjust and settle into a spring quarter of online classes and remote learning, different departments and groups within UW Tacoma are coming up with innovative ways in continuing to serve students and the UWT community as a whole. Many are turning to Zoom to host classes and events, while others have turned to social media to keep in touch with one another.

For Student Affairs, the task of accommodating students’ needs and improving, promoting and maintaining UWT’s campus community while very few people are actually on campus has been a roller coaster, according to Assistant Director of Student Engagement Elizabeth Hansen.

“I’ve been saying that once it seems like things are kind of leveling out, it’s like there’s this new dip we have to adjust to,” Hansen said. “For the end of winter quarter, so the first half of March, it wasn’t too bad because most of our programs had wrapped up. We don’t do a lot of programming or events during finals week and definitely not during spring break … It was a lot of stops and starts, and what I was telling people was that what worked for this week might not work for the next.”

Several UWT departments are planning and have already hosted virtual campus events, primarily through Zoom, which the UW provides free access to for all UW members. New Student and Family Programs, for example, hosted their spring orientation through Zoom. Students were able to ask questions through Zoom’s chat while UWT staff helped to prepare new students for their first quarter here at UWT. Global Honors has several information sessions which students can attend. On April 15, a virtual involvement fair for RSOs will be held.

Hansen is encouraging RSOs to still host meetings and keep their communities going. According to Hansen, if students were looking to start up an RSO during this quarter, they should still go forward with it, and those in the Center for Student Involvement will be there to lend help however they can.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out directly to groups,” Hansen said. “Find them on DawgDen and look out for them on social media … We’re here to help folks get connected. If people, whether they are in an RSO or not, they just have an idea for a program or a way to build that community, we would love to hear about that as well. We are going to continue to offer opportunities, and they can come from anywhere.” 

Student organizations and clubs, like the Associated Students of the University of Washington Tacoma, are also continuing their work remotely. ASUWT Senate and Board meetings will still be held throughout the quarters on Fridays from 12:30–2:40 p.m. President Vincent Da explained that they are still continuing forward with their duties to serve students.

“We’ll be hosting our office hours online,” Da said. “Our senators have their times up on our website where they’ll be available, and we’ll also have links where students can talk to them over Zoom during that time too. We’re responding to emails. We know students have concerns and questions, and we want to let them know we have ways to keep in touch and interact with them. We’re still out here to reach out to students.”

With all of spring quarter being held online and campus being closed, as well as Governor Jay Inslee’s most recent extension of his “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Da offered words of support to students and the UWT community in this time of, as Inslee has called it, the “new normal.”

“I encourage all students to stay home as much as possible,” Da said. “Thank all of the essential workers and people at the front lines who are doing their best to combat the situation. We’ll get through this, we all just have to do our part to stay home, and stay healthy.”