Student life continues despite campus closure

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By Noah Alcala Bach

nalcala-bach@alamo.edu

Jacob Martinez spent the anniversary of his promotion to director of student life scrambling to create a student experience — digitally.

Trips, events, fundraisers and any in-person meetings have been canceled, and some clubs have shut down for the remainder of the year.

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With campuses closed across the country, student life feels nonexistent for most students. Martinez is hoping he can change that for this college.

Student life has used the extended spring break and first couple weeks of remote learning to create a student life experience and provide resources despite the campus closure.

“We have Zoom portals open where students can connect and talk to SAC staff and I don’t think students know that’s available yet,” Martinez said. “We also have student life after dark where we’ll be helping students from 10 p.m until 2 a.m.”

Student life also has portals available on Zoom from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Martinez hopes the programs introduced will help ease student anxiety during uncertain times. “We’re having to adapt to this new normal and try to find unique ways to engage with our students because we still want them to know we’re here for them,” Martinez said.

In addition to assisting students, Martinez is doing his best to help clubs.

“Jacob (Martinez) has been awesome. He’s actually like our adviser adjacent,” Samatha Grimaldi, president of Phi Theta Kappa, said. “We have him on our group chat and so whenever we have a question, we just shoot him a quick text.”

PTK has continued meeting with help from student life.

But Grimaldi is concerned about PTK’s ability to function remotely, mentioning dwindling scholarship opportunities, conferences that have been canceled or moved online, and also the club’s annual project, which is in jeopardy.

PTK’s semester project was examining how someone’s environment affects education and learning.

PTK was looking for students at this college who don’t have a permanent address but this is difficult now that they can’t interview those individuals and don’t have access to resources on campus such as the advocacy and veterans centers.

PTK is also looking for a way to hold its induction in the midst of a campus shutdown.

“It’s really hard because a lot of our new members know we do this every semester and so they were really looking forward to it,” Grimaldi said. “We’ve been trying to look at different programs to do a virtual induction as well as trying to get everyone’s schedules aligned to do that.”

She added, “Having to do those virtually is going to be a lot harder.”

The biggest challenge facing PTK, Grimaldi,said is the loss of community in a remote setting.

“One of the biggest things with PTK that a lot of people don’t realize, since we’re definitely promoted as an academic society, is that there’s a lot of fellowship and a lot of companionships, Grimaldi said. “I have so many friends that I’ve made because of PTK. Being able to meet in person and have those bonds face-to-face is something you can’t get over a Zoom meeting, as much as we would all love for that to be the case.”

Clubs and student life are also bracing for major financial loss after having to cancel fundraisers, such as Funfest, an annual Fiesta-themed fundraiser. Martinez also said that money has been lost because of canceled trips.

Martinez said he hopes if the campus reopens during the summer, student life will be able to “beef up summer programming.” However, college President Robert Vela has said the soonest the campus will reopen is mid-summer.

While creating a campus experience is a daunting task, Martinez wants students to know he and his staff are still here for them.

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