UCLA officials discuss building communities virtually at student leadership event
UCLA administrators discussed ways to help student leaders connect with the campus community as students conduct remote learning. (Daily Bruin file photo)
By Julia Shapero
Sept. 23, 2020 6:28 p.m.
All UCLA students will have accounts with the communication tool Slack, among other resources UCLA will provide the student body, to prepare for a remote quarter, UCLA administrators told student leaders at a Monday event.
The university’s senior officials, including Chancellor Gene Block, Dean of Students Maria Blandizzi and Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Monroe Gorden Jr., discussed how organizations can engage students virtually at the annual student leadership kickoff event.
UCLA will provide every person in the campus community with a Slack account in order to help students communicate within groups, classes and other communities, Blandizzi said at the event. UCLA will release an official announcement at a later date, she added.
Slack is a workplace communication app that allows users to create private messaging groups and send direct messages to other users. A UCLA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for additional details.
Suzanne Seplow, assistant vice chancellor of student development, said Student Affairs staff also put together a digital guidebook for students, which includes information about COVID-19, guidance for building a community and other health-related recommendations.
“We see this as a dynamic guidebook that will get continually updated based on the feedback we get, the changes that we experience (and) new information so that it could stay relevant and up to date,” Seplow said.
Assistant Vice Chancellor of Campus Life Mick Deluca added at the event that student leaders can post their virtual activities and, later on, in-person activities on a new UCLA website.
UCLA is still in Phase 1 of its four-phase reopening plan, which limits in-person classes and activities to only the most essential ones, limits on-campus housing, bars any gatherings and closes buildings on campus, Deluca said. He added that UCLA has used student input to inform its plans for future phases.
Deluca also said that many people have accepted that life may not go back to normal and added that student leaders will be essential in helping students build community and leading students virtually.
Gorden said Student Affairs will provide student leaders with a support network amid the ongoing pandemic if they are unable to access a support system.
“(Student Affairs has) a lot of individuals who work very closely with our students, and particularly our student leaders,” Gorden said. “And so if you feel that you don’t have that support network elsewhere, know that we are here, we’re ready, we’re able to be your support network as well.”
UCLA plans to hold most classes virtually in the fall. University housing will also operate at a limited capacity.
Gorden added he believes student leadership and organizations’ connections are critical to the well-being of the UCLA community.
“One of the greatest challenges I think we are going to face in this remote environment is the ability for us to be able to truly build community among the student body,” Gorden said. “And we recognize that this is largely a job that you’ve undertaken, and largely work that you do.”