By Jessica Harkay | Reporter
As a university that calls its students, faculty, staff and alumni the Baylor family, it’s times like these that preserving the sense of community is most important. Yet, it’s also something that student organizations have had to figure out and how to maintain these relationships.
From the Baylor Jujitsu Club sending short instructional videos to continue progressing in the sport, to sorority Netflix watch parties and Facetimes, various student organizations are making an effort to reach out to its members and remind them that there’s an outlet for students to depend on regardless of the COVID-19 situation.
Arlington junior Riley Mohorc, Baylor Chi Omega president, said she thinks complacency is a large struggle right now during this time.
“It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, because right now no one knows how long the tunnel is,” Mohorc said. “We have started doing a virtual newsletter instead of our standard weekly email and in-person chapter meeting. This is designed to be more interactive and casual. I have been including silly things like TikToks and fun pictures to keep morale high and encourage girls to read.”
Yet even with the added efforts some students, including Houston junior Rachel Badger, an Alpha Delta Pi member, are struggling to maintain relationships remotely.
“I miss being around my sisters 24/7. COVID-19 has taken a toll on me if I’m being honest,” Badger said. “It’s even harder because my parents moved away from my hometown so it doesn’t feel like I’m home at all. The little things help but it’s hard to form connections from afar. It doesn’t feel like a community because it seems tangible.”
Badger isn’t the only one feeling a difference, Mohorc said responsiveness has decreased within the chapter.
“The hardest part of this is people are checking out at home,” Mohorc said. “We are constantly brainstorming ways to combat this, but just reaching out to people and asking for ideas has really drawn people in.”
Baylor has joined the effort to try and maintain as much normalcy as possible with virtual Dr Pepper hours, Facebook live streams with President Linda Livingstone and sending emails and texts to check on students’ wellbeing.
Emphasizing students’ mental health, Holly Oxhandler, associate dean for research at the Diane R. Garland School of Social Work, said that in times of high fear and anxiety it’s important for students to remember to take time to breathe.
“My hope is that students do not neglect their mental health as they grieve the loss of what they imagined for this semester, transition to online learning, practice social distancing, and for many, adjust to living in a different setting than you were in before spring break,” Oxhandler said. “Some things you can do right now to care for your mental health include first incorporating a practice of breathing deep – breathe in for 4-5 seconds and out for 6-7 seconds, ensuring your belly rises and falls instead of your chest.”
Oxhandler also recommended to get outside at least once a day, stay in tune with your body and to most importantly stay in touch with one another.