COVID-19 Response

The Division of Student Life was instrumental in supporting students as they faced many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With classes and programs moving online to ensure safety on campus, Student Life staff developed innovative ways to provide the support resources students need and help them engage and connect with the campus community.

Providing Support

  • The First Year Experience and Retention Initiatives’ peer mentors, known as Navigators, provided support to help prepare over 1,000 first-year students who displayed retention concerns, like low credit hour completion in the fall semester, for their second year on campus through open office hours in-person or via Zoom.
  • To support our students’ mental health during COVID-19, the Counseling Center adapted their services to a teletherapy format to provide remote personal and group sessions, including new same day consultations, which served almost 200 students and reduced the average intake from 15 to 8.7 days.
  • As classes and activities moved online, Student Care and Well-Being, in partnership with the Office of Information Technology and University Libraries, worked to ensure all students were set up to participate by providing laptops, webcams and WiFi hotspots to students in need.
  • Collegiate Recovery and Intervention Services transitioned all services to virtual to support students impacted by substance use while maintaining COVID-19 safety guidelines. This change led to a 50% attendance increase at the UA Recovery Night program.
  • The division raised over $90,000 toward the Tide Together Student Support Fund, providing students access to short term financial support in time of need. During COVID-19, this fund was used to assist students with monetary needs to travel home, find alternate housing or afford food.
  • Student Conduct hosted more than 100 online presentations and workshops educating students on the Code of Conduct and encouraging responsible decisions to maximize their experience as a student.
  • Housing and Residential Communities shifted over 500 beds to serve as designated isolation/quarantine housing for students who tested positive for COVID-19, ensuring the safety of all students on campus.
  • Since the pandemic began in March 2020, Student Care and Well-Being provided emergency financial assistance to over 2,014 students, connecting 1,640 students with resources to manage crisis or difficulty and worked with campus mail to provide contactless delivery for the food pantry.
  • Veteran and Military Affairs maintained full operations under COVID-19 guidelines in order to maintain support for military-affiliated students by completing 7,604 Federal GI Bill certifications.
  • In order to recognize the many achievements of our students, Student Involvement shifted the annual Honors Day programs to a hybrid virtual and in-person event that hosted over 500 students and their guests.
  • The Dean of Students office developed the Capstone Caught Caring program, which sought to recognize and reward students who demonstrated care for their campus community by following health and safety guidelines.
  • Health Promotion and Wellness led efforts to develop innovative educational programming and outreach to students to share COVID-19 safety guidelines and distribute masks and hand sanitizer.
  • Through our Alabama Model of Student Health and Wellbeing, Student Life was able to collect real-time data to identify students experiencing concerns and difficulties during the initial impact of the pandemic. Staff connected these students with resources to support their academic and personal wellbeing.

Engaging Students

  • University Programs cultivated new programs that connected students in a time that many felt isolated. These included the Grab and Go Series, which focused on activities that provided students activities to do with a small group of friends independently. Additionally, Engagement Pods connected students of shared interests in small groups they could meet with regularly.
  • As the central hub of campus, the The University of Alabama Student Center was one of the first buildings to fully reopen, working with Environmental Health Services and building staff to provide a safe environment for learning spaces, dining, events and campus tours.
  • As campus saw many changes due to COVID-19, Parent & Family Programs worked to support families by hosting 26 webinars, including Q&A sessions with administrators, sharing how to best support their students and providing insight into life on campus with COVID-19 precautions.
  • The Blackburn Institute adjusted their annual Burt Jones Travel Experience, which engages students with state leaders to explore state and local issues, to stay in Tuscaloosa. Here they interacted with local government officials to learn about economic and workforce development and affordable housing.
  • University Recreation worked to reimagine their programs and services to keep students physically active under COVID-19 guidelines by providing virtual work out classes, physically distanced outdoor day trips and maintaining intramural sports for low contact sports.
  • Parent & Family Programs implemented a virtual Family Weekend experience in partnership with Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports with activities catered to connect them with campus and explore Tuscaloosa.
  • Student Involvement worked with Environmental Health and Safety and Financial Affairs to establish event guidelines to provide a safe environment for over 4,029 program requests.
  • The Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life supported COVID safe processes to maintain the recruitment of over 2,000 potential new members through a hybrid virtual and in person process. They additionally implemented new policies for approving programs and maintaining safe protocols at the houses to provide the Greek experience while supporting a safe environment.

New Leadership

Dr. Myron Pope joined the Division of Student Life as vice president spring 2020. As campus began to shut down he worked to lead the division in providing much needed support and engagement for our students. While addressing these immediate needs, he worked with divisional leaders to develop new mission and vision statements which were launched January 2021 to provide guidance on the long-term direction and values of Student Life, focusing efforts on empowering a culture that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion, holistic wellness and student success.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

  • Through the Office of Student Media, sophomore Tionna Taite founded Nineteen Fifty-Six, a student-run magazine celebrating Black culture and excellence and highlighting the Black student experience at UA.
  • The Career Center developed the TIDE (The Innovative & Diverse Employer) Match program, which connected eight student organizations with employers who mentor them on best practices for developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives within their organization.
  • Parent & Family Programs launched six new Affinity Groups to support Black, military-affiliated, solo parent, Jewish, LGBTQIA+ and first-generation families at UA. These groups help connect parents and families of common interests, identities or backgrounds to support one another during their students’ time at UA.
  • The Student Government Association worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion on campus through DEI certification for students and organizations. Additionally, SGA worked with campus partners to host “Faces of UA”, a week-long physical and virtual tour of campus, highlighting sites with historical significance to our development of diversity.

Holistic Wellness

  • The Women and Gender Resource Center’s peer leader program has seen significant growth from 16 students in 2020 to 51 in 2021. This team is equipped to support the campus community on interpersonal violence, survivor support and campus and community resources, engaging 1,401 students through presentations and outreach tabling.
  • The Counseling Center’s Tide Against Suicide initiative expanded Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) training to additional campus partners, including athletics, collaborated with HR to include suicide prevention training for all faculty and staff, and launched the Students Tide Against Suicide (STAS) organization that recruited 63 students who conduct outreach through programming and advocacy.
  • To support and develop financial literacy amongst our students, Health Promotion and Wellness launched mymoney.ua.edu, which provides financial information and resources, and the Peer Financial Coaching Program, that trained nine peer financial coaches who provided 30-minute financial coaching sessions to other students.
  • The Women and Gender Resource Center adapted their services to provide online and in-person therapy and advocacy to survivors of interpersonal violence through direct assistance, including 24/7 on-call response, and referrals to services outside of the department.
  • The Counseling Center and Health Promotion and Wellness developed Healthy Minds, a student led outreach team that shares mental health information and resources with other students.

Student Success

  • First Year Experience and Retention Initiatives expanded Camp 1831’s scholarships to award 46 scholarships to low-income students, removing the cost-barrier for participation and expanding access to this high impact program that provides first-year students the opportunity to make friends and explore where they fit in at UA prior to the start of classes each fall. The program made several adjustments to provide social distancing and saw a 20% increase in participation despite COVID-19 limitations.
  • The Office of Student Media provided over 400 students hands-on journalism and marketing experience through six media outlets – 2020 Newspaper Pacemaker award finalist The Crimson White, Alice, Bama Life, Marr’s Field Journal, Nineteen Fifty-Six and WVUA-FM.
  • The Career Center hosted the Kraft Heinz Weinermobile for a weeklong on-campus recruitment event, engaging students with Hotdogger internship program for this Fortune 500 company. For the second consecutive year, one UA student was accepted to the Hotdogger program due to this initiative.
  • The Center for Service and Leadership lead Beat Auburn Beat Hunger in raising 291,047 pounds of food for the West Alabama Food Bank, out-raising Auburn University for the fourth consecutive year.
  • The Blackburn Institute awarded over $7,000 in Daniel Community Scholar grants which empowered students to advocate and promote change through community education and civic engagement efforts.
  • University of Alabama Dance Marathon (UADM) raised $303,126.21 for Children’s of Alabama by looking for innovative ways, including a virtual 4k, to raise funds outside of the annual Dance Marathon.
  • For over a decade, the Al’s Pals program has worked to connect university student mentors with local elementary students in after school programs to provide academic support and coordinate enrichment activities. Unable to meet in person, staff and students worked to develop virtual programming and curriculum to successfully connect 300 mentors with 130 elementary students, making a difference in these students lives and instilling the importance of civic responsibility on our campus.
  • First Year Experience and Retention Initiatives advocated for the new Crimson Scholars program, which will support 200 new UA students in a two-year program focused on student success and career preparation.