NACAS, the largest auxiliary and ancillary services organization serving higher education, announced today that they have...
A Letter from the CEO
Keeping our Campus Communities Safe
A Letter from the NACAS CEO
Dear NACAS Community,
In this unprecedented time for our country and the world, we are at the helm of what is perhaps the greatest public health issue we’ve seen in a century. In higher education, we are all faced with an enormous task: keeping our campus communities safe.
We know that social distancing and self-quarantine are crucial to stopping the spread of the virus. Colleges and universities across the country have been forced to move their lectures online, limiting interpersonal touchpoints, and in some cases, shutting down their operations. As the largest organization serving auxiliary services professionals, we would like to offer some thought leadership that may help institutions streamline future plans. Just as it is the government’s role to protect the citizens during periods of uncertainty and unrest, so too is it the responsibility of our industry to protect and care for our students.
It is critical at this moment to remember that some students don’t have a home to go to outside of campus. Many would not be able to find adequate housing or meals if they were forced to leave. Many rely on campus employment to fund basic needs. There are other resources that our institutions are responsible for providing that also disappear if campus is closed, like counseling, transportation, academic resources, and proper safety and health education measures. There are thousands of individuals who would not have adequate access to the Internet, making it very difficult to participate in online courses. There is no one fix-all to this situation, so we need to make sure we are supplying alternatives for students in need.
We encourage campuses to explore a range of methods so we can put the health of our students, faculty, and staff first while still meeting their basic needs. How can we get creative and change up our operations? Perhaps one way is training facilities personnel to change course as needed for cleaning and sanitation. Housing professionals can find ways to create living spaces that keep the campus community safe. Dining halls can feed students while keeping to the highest standards for safely and responsibly serving meals. Student unions can create needed campus community, campus recreation can provide the much needed physical and mental health benefits of physical activity, and all student life facilities can be operated with social distancing to still provide needed activities.
We stand with our campus communities and believe it’s our shared job to ensure that all students’ basic needs are met, while also attending to the health and safety of our teams and their families. Higher education has expanded the diversity of its students, faculty, and staff in recent years, and it is that very diversity that has to stay central in the decision making necessitated by the impacts of COVID-19. It’s important to act quickly in this trying time, but also to stay vigilant to the downstream impacts of our decisions. We are confident that our members will bring human-centered approaches that are rooted in the core values of our institutions to solve challenges while maintaining a global community mindset.
Kelsey Harmon Finn