A virtual campaign at the University of La Verne has begun to focus on engagement and belonging through various online events.
The Homesick Campaign, which debuted last month, offers opportunities for students and faculty to participate in various online activities.
Stephen Heggem, residence life coordinator for Citrus Hall, introduced the campaign, which is designed to engage students, who may feel disconnected or lost at this challenging time.
The campaign started after one of University President Devorah Lieberman’s State of the University address, Heggem said.
“She was outlining what the rest of the semester was going to look like (and) I realized that a lot of people are being affected by what is going on in the world,” he said.
Heggem said that he saw that the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused the sudden shuddering of the campus in mid-March when all classes migrated online, was taking an emotional toll on students.
Despite the University’s best efforts to help everyone in need, there was a lot of homesickness and grief among those who had found a home at the University, Heggem said.
Each activity in the Homesick Campaign is set to help the students feel as though they are still able to participate in little activities and events like the ones that were usually held in Sneaky Park.
“The Homesick Campaign is one way of trying to engage students while they are away,” said Eugene Shang, director of residence life. “The focus is on making students feel motivated, connected, seen and heard, while they are at their own homes.”
The campaign involves an event every day of the week. Monday Motivation offers practical resources to encourage wellness and success to students through live streams on Instagram. Activities include guided meditation, exercises on managing grief/anxiety and other tools to assist during the online period.
Tuesday Talks have a live stream that features a different interview conducted over Instagram with a student, staff or faculty member.
Wednesday Walks feature an emergency staff member with access to ULV’s main campus with their featured favorite spaces on campus.
Thankful Thursdays are open for students to share their gratitude to faculty/staff.
Then there’s Friday Fun, for which students can send memes through social media and they may also be invited to do challenges and games to feature on their Instagrams.
Monica Edaburn, sophomore education major, said she participated in the Wednesday Walk event. The emergency staff went down the path toward the Rock, via Instagram Live, where multiple organizations and clubs have painted on it over the years.
“I went online and saw they were doing the walk through the University and I really liked it,” Edaburn said. “I have walked that path to go to my classes and it really made me nostalgic. I think the campaign is gonna help ease some tensions that some students are feeling during these times.”
Edaburn said that the Campaign was a great idea and that she feels connected with the University through the University Housing Instagram posts.
Maria Reynoso, a freshman psychology major, has worked with Housing to suggest new ideas and challenges for “Fun Fridays.”
“I have participated in the TikTok challenge, in which I suggested it would be something fun that would get people to step out of their box and show off their ULV merch,” Reynoso said.
Reynoso said he believes the campaign has been productive and has helped students with a sense of belonging, even if it is from their homes.
Shelby Lindsley, sophomore psychology and studio art major, has logged onto Instagram every Wednesday for Heggem’s hunt for Leo the Leopard, the University mascot, throughout the University.
“I believe that social media is one of the best ways to keep in touch, especially during this time,” Lindsley said. “I love that the campaign is trying to push favorite memories as a way to remind ourselves of great times on campus and look forward to new memories that can be made.”
Follow the University Housing Instagram page to stay up-to-date on Homesick Campaign events and activities.
Rashonda Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.