Abundance of Student Services, Programs Available Even in the Midst of Pandemic
Though it might sometimes seem that SJSU’s campus is “closed” due to COVID-19 and the largely virtual classroom approach the university has adopted, a closer look reveals the extent to which staff, faculty and others have worked to give students the fullest, most meaningful college experience possible.
Sonja Daniels, associate vice president for campus life in the division of student affairs, said a large priority has been placed on delivering services that meet the personal and academic needs of students during what is an unprecedented and atypical period.
Diaz Compean Student Union remains a hub of student life for the more than 850 students (and 55 student staff) who are living in university housing or periodically coming to campus, and the facility is open from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. each weekday. The building houses more services than any other on campus, and several remain available for use—even during the pandemic.
Coffee and other essentials
About half of the eateries located in Diaz Compean Student Union—including Starbucks, for that all-important shot of caffeine students often require—are open, though hours have been adjusted due to a general decrease in traffic.
In addition, the Spartan Food Pantry remains open and available to students; in fact, all SJSU Cares and Case Management operations are still available. SJSU Cares is the university’s “one-stop shop” for a variety of student resources and services—particularly unanticipated financial crises—while the Case Management team provides individualized case managers to help with similar issues and student needs.
“Access to these services and resources is always important, but even more so given the extraordinarily challenging period this continues to be for our students and their families,” said Daniels.
Recognizing the many routine academic needs that students require, the SJSU Spartan Bookstore is also open and serving students and the campus community. Like other facilities that have modified their operations in light of the pandemic, the bookstore and its staff have implemented a number of safeguards to keep customers safe, including social distancing measures, rigorous cleaning, contactless payment and sneeze shields at checkout.
Study resources and academic services
Perhaps one of the more innovative uses of space during the pandemic, said Daniels, has been in the ballroom.
With no large presentations or ceremonies occurring there, administrators decided to repurpose the facility and create a “Student Specialized Instructional Support Center ” where students could briefly attend to their studies. The venue has been equipped with computers, tables and chairs, and strong Wi-Fi completes the study space.
Because safety and health remains the campus’s first and foremost priority, students are asked to sign in and complete short surveys upon arrival in the ballroom. Although “lingering” is not permitted for long periods, the space offers a quiet place where students can complete important assignments right on campus rather than remaining “stuck” in their resident hall or apartment.
Other important Associated Students services are still available, too, such as printing services and Transportation Solutions. Academic advising and even resume preparation services are accessible via the virtual environment.
Recreation, fitness and wellness
Many students, of course, are eager to return to the full suite of activities typically found in the Spartan Recreation and Aquatic Center (SRAC). As the pandemic situation stabilizes and updated guidance from Santa Clara County leads to fewer restrictions, recreational and fitness opportunities will expand, said Daniels.
Even now, however, the swimming pool at SRAC is open for lap swims (at 45-minute intervals). SRAC has also been offering immersive virtual fitness and exercise activities, while virtual classes, at-home workouts, intramural gaming tournaments and outdoor adventure virtual trips are also available.
SJSU’s Student Health Center, said Daniels, has likely been one of the most valuable and needed resources available to students during the pandemic, particularly Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). The facility remains open several days per week from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., and one-on-one virtual appointments—free of charge for students—can be made online. Regular health visits, such as eye and general medicine appointments, can also be made, with doctors and nurse practitioners remaining available.
Other virtual programming
From the outset of the pandemic, SJSU’s staff members were determined to put together and deliver a range of virtual events and other programs that students could enjoy and learn from right at their desktops. Admitted Spartan Day and Weeks of Welcome for example, developed innovative programming chock full of direct outreach, webinars, videos and other features designed for our newly admitted students and their families as well as returning students, providing superb examples that others around campus have worked hard to match.
Students and other members of the campus community are now able to enjoy virtual programming through the MOSAIC Cross Cultural Center and Spartan Speaker Series, for instance, while “Let’s Talk Movies” and “Virtual Music at Noon” events as well as podcasts, “open mic” events and game nights, are being staged by Student Affairs through the fall as a way to bring arts and entertainment directly to students in an online environment.
A variety of other SJSU campus resources remain available to students—including a number of useful apps—and are described in a recent story by Sachi Tolani (’23 Marketing) for the Her Campus™ at SJSU website.
“Everyone continues to work hard to build and expand our capacity for the fullest student experience imaginable,” said Patrick Day, vice president for student affairs. “In the end, that’s what we’re striving for.”