Student fee-supported services adapt during COVID-19
by Joe Giordano
published Sept. 9, 2020
As in previous years, the Lory Student Center was the heart of student activity during the first week of classes for the Fall 2020 semester at Colorado State University. It just looked a little different.
Mask-wearing students flowed through the 350,000-square-foot building to visit the CSU Bookstore and grab a bite to eat. President Joyce McConnell was on hand with local legislators on the first day of classes to share words of encouragement, at a distance. Students were also active virtually — accessing a variety of services online, including Campus Information, Off-Campus Life and the Career Center.
“Similar to many areas across campus, we had hundreds of career staff and student employees working both in person and remotely over the summer to prepare the Lory Student Center for reopening to the public,” said Mike Ellis, assistant vice president and executive director of the Lory Student Center. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome for the first week of classes.”
Much like classes, research and other facets of CSU, services supported by student fees — such as the Lory Student Center, the CSU Health Network and many others — have had to adapt in the face of COVID-19.
Student fees support 19 areas across the university, ranging from Adult Learner & Veteran Services and the Associated Students of Colorado State University to the Committee for Disabled Student Accessibility and Women and Gender Advocacy Center.
Ellis explained that portions of the student fees go to fund the employees who make many of these services possible, whether it’s in person or virtually. He added that in the case of the LSC, all of the usual services continue to be available, including in-person services at the CSU Bookstore and Campus Information as well as the new, online educational and entertainment programs hosted by RamEvents.
In some instances, Ellis said LSC services have improved since moving online, pointing to the LSC Information Desk as an example. While there are still students working at the in-person Information Desk, he said the virtual chatline feature decreases wait times.
“Whether in person or online, students, staff and faculty can continue to experience the same high-quality services and programs designed intentionally to facilitate an inviting and inclusive community among all members of our Ram family,” he said.
Supporting the fabric of the university community
CSU students walking across campus and eating in the Lory Student Center during the first week of classes. Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photos
Student fee services are critical to the fabric of the university community.
In the case of Interpersonal Violence, Response and Safety services provided through the Women and Gender Advocacy Center, student fees employ full-time staff and students, who are all currently working on remote advocacy and education efforts to support and respond to interpersonal violence issues on the CSU campus.
Prevention education is happening online, including Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. In the area of advocacy, the 24-hour hotline is staffed, and digital advocacy support is provided, including online groups. A web chat feature has also been added to allow survivors an option for connecting with an advocate.
The key is for the university community to communicate important information about how to access these critical services, Ellis explained.
Alexandra Farias, a senior majoring in business and finance, serves as vice president of the Associated Students of CSU and chair of the Student Fee Review Board, a volunteer oversight committee of students who examine and approve proposed changes to student fees.
Farias said the Student Fee Review Board gives students the opportunity to play an important role in the decision-making process, a feature missing from other universities across the country. She added the group has also been working on ways to communicate how services are being offered during COVID-19.
“I have received a lot of questions from students who don’t think they’re getting certain services, which is not the case at all,” Farias said. “They just don’t know what services are being offered. So what we’re trying to do is to create awareness so people can understand what is being offered so they can utilize what they are paying for.”
Farias has taken the lead on the Student Fee Review Board in creating flyers and other promotional items to better inform students. She is also examining ways for students to virtually access the Student Fee Review Board meetings.
At the moment, Farias is in the process of getting student volunteers to fill nearly half of the seats on the 20-member board.
“I would encourage any students to be on this board, regardless of their finance or accounting experiences,” Farias said. “It really gives the power to students to decide where their fees are going.”
Student Fee Review Board
CSU students interested in volunteering to be a member on the Student Fee Review Board can apply by visiting col.st/gqVdF.
CAM the Ram wears a mask outside the CSU Health and Medical Center on the corner of College Avenue and Prospect Road. Photo by John Eisele/CSU Photos
Anne Hudgens retired in June as executive director of the CSU Health Network, a national model in supporting the health and well-being of students.
Her retirement lasted less than a month.
Much like everything during COVID-19, Hudgens has had to adapt. She is back at CSU as special assistant to the executive director of the CSU Health Network, helping with operations as Executive Director Lori Lynn co-chairs the university Pandemic Preparedness Team.
Hudgens said the CSU Health Network is continuing to provide its services, including those that help students learn how to improve mental health, manage stress and minimize anxiety.
“We have been providing all of the same services since the beginning” of the pandemic, Hudgens said. “We have a great team that really cares about the well-being of students and helping them navigate this world.”
The CSU Health Network offers YOU@CSU, an online 24/7 student success tool that has more than 50 COVID-19-related resources to help students adapt to an ever-changing world while social distancing and learning online. The platform has a variety of resources to help students manage stress and support their mental health.
Additionally, live counseling services are being provided by phone and online. Urgent counseling services are offered 24/7. The CSU Health Network also has a variety of workshops and coaching sessions to help with alcohol, tobacco and substance use concerns, among other areas.
For COVID-19-related treatment, Hudgens said the CSU Health Network currently has a telehealth model in place, with an initial virtual visit. If a student is showing COVID-19 symptoms, they are referred to a UCHeath or a Larimer County testing site. She added that the CSU Health Center is currently in the process of getting COVID-19 testing onsite.
The CSU Health Network also continues to provide in-person medical care. Over the summer, Hudgens said staff had the opportunity to practice patient intake and other safety precautions in preparation for the fall semester.
“We’re a medical facility, so we’re governed by very strict guidelines from the Larimer County Health Department,” she said. “We have infection control folks, so we are doing all of the infection control management to the letter of the law in terms of keeping our building safe.”
Athletics and Campus Recreation
Students work out at the Student Recreation Center during the first week of classes. Photos by John Eisele/CSU Photos
The Student Recreation Center also is open for normal business hours with a total building capacity of 175 people. Because of this, the center is only open to CSU students.
According to Executive Director Cody Frye, the Student Recreation Center is averaging around 1,700 students a day, with significant face-covering compliance.
During the pandemic, Frye said the Student Recreation Center has been a hub where students can build community. He said the center is continuing to offer a mix of in-person and online group fitness, cycling and yoga classes.
The center also has expanded fitness offerings next door at the MAC Gym and the surrounding outside areas. There is also a full schedule of both in-person and online intramural sports competitions, with socially distant activities such as golf, beanbag league, tennis and kickball surging in popularity.
“It’s not just about getting a workout,” Frye said. “It’s also about managing stress levels and managing all of the different things going on right now. That’s a key part of fitness and recreation.”
With Athletics, all ticketed sports (football, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball) to which students receive free entry are still expected to be played in Spring 2021.
Rams Take Care of Rams
A “Keep Gatherings Small” message displayed on the video board at Canvas Stadium. Photo by Colleen Rodriguez
In the Lory Student Center and across campus, there is signage requiring the university community to practice public health behaviors such as wearing masks and keeping gatherings small.
As students were walking down West Pitkin Street before Labor Day weekend, the Canvas Stadium video board served as a beacon for this messaging, displaying in massive letters: “Protect Your Friends. Keep Gatherings Small.”
It’s a strange time, and the university community is doing its best to adapt, Ellis said, adding he is impressed with how students have also adapted to the new normal, practicing safe public health behaviors in the LSC.
While he can’t see the faces of students, Ellis knows the university’s efforts are reaching them.
“You can just see through people’s eyes the sense of care and compassion,” he said. “They’re paying attention to requested social distancing, and they’re making the uncomfortable feel comfortable in an environment like this.”
Student Fee Supported Services during COVID-19
Get important information about how student fee programs and services are being delivered by visiting col.st/UnTMa.
Student fee supported services