Trine University Finds Fun Ways to Tell Students, “We Care.”
By: Abbey Wang
It is safe to say that for the last year, students, faculty, and staff here at Trine have had to make a lot of sacrifices and changes due to the Coronavirus pandemic. From being sent home suddenly back in March 2020, to losing our beloved fall and spring breaks, it has been a very long and stressful journey thus far. To ease the workload and stress levels of the Trine community, Trine University began introducing “WeCare Days.” On WeCare Days, classes are cancelled, and fun activities are planned for students throughout the day.
According to Miss Clare Danner, the Director of Student Success, “WeCare days are designed to give students and faculty a break from the rigors of an expedited academic calendar with no breaks, which was necessary to implement this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” During each allotted WeCare day, faculty plans a list of activities for students to do throughout the day. Many of these activities promote stress relief and relaxation, because after all, the day is all about taking break.
“The events that are planned during the WeCare days speak specifically to restoring energy, creating fun, and offering places for students to connect. It also offers the student a day to simply rest and relax if that is what they need,” says Shelly Edwards, a Trine University Counselor.
Some of these fun activities are ice skating, snow sledding, massages, and tons of opportunities for free food and beverages across campus. Trine even has virtual events and food delivery for students who were unfortunately stuck in quarantine during their WeCare days. Katie Zuercher, a sophomore, says her favorite WeCare event was making pottery. “I love working with clay,” said Zuercher, “It’s so relaxing! I was very excited when I found out Trine was hosting pottery classes for our day off.”
Personally, my favorite WeCare activity must be the parking ticket amnesty; this is where students can bring in any parking tickets they may have collected, and they can get one parking ticket voided per WeCare day. Many students struggle financially, so I think this is a favorite for many others on campus as well.
Behind the fun activities and free stuff, WeCare Days were designed to make up for the lack of breaks we get due to COVID-19; but WeCare Days are much more important to our mental health than meets the eye. When discussing the pandemic and WeCare Days with Edwards, a counselor at Trine, she addressed the impact COVID-19 has had on the mental health of the students and faculty at this school.
Sometimes, [mental health changes due to the pandemic] results in hyper-vigilance, poor concentration, isolating behaviors, irritability, and difficulty sleeping and eating to name a few. Over time, as the pandemic has continued, many students are feeling lost and homesick especially those newer to Trine campus.
Not only has this pandemic caused mental health issues to arise in people who have not experienced it before, it has also increased the mental health challenges for those who were diagnosed prior to the coronavirus. With that being said, while it is unsafe for Trine University to allow week-long breaks, it is important now more than ever for students to get a break. Edwards stresses that it is important for us to continue to host WeCare days, so students get the chance to recharge and rest their minds and spirits. As cliche as it may sound, self-care is very important, and it speaks volumes that Trine is making the mental health of their students and faculty a priority.