AARON SKUBBY, News Editor—With the heightened concerns of COVID-19, Denison’s Community Advisors have stepped up to help keep the campus community safe. But the crisis has brought increased stress and pressure for CAs, who have to juggle their own responsibilities as students themselves.
It is no secret that the COVID crisis has brought an array of new challenges and guidelines for students to abide by. On top of typical responsibilities, students must also now follow the Community Care Agreement in order to keep the campus community safe. As such, CAs have to help make sure their residents abide by the agreement.
All students were required to sign the Community Care Agreement prior to coming to campus this semester. It indicates an agreement by students to take necessary steps in upholding the safety and well being of the campus community as a whole. It requires students to follow all necessary guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distancing at all times.
Violation of the Community Care Agreement can result in consequences including students being sent home, as explicitly stated in the agreement. Community Advisors are a critical part of maintaining the agreement, and play a key role in keeping Denison safe during the pandemic.
Community Advisor Traeona Brinson ‘21 expressed her willingness to help uphold the wellbeing of campus: “As a third year CA, I have no problem being at the frontline when it pertains to one’s health and safety. I think oftentimes a lot of students don’t realize that a CA’s primary job is to ensure a safe living environment for their residents. It’s more than programming. There’s a lot of responsibilities that we are naturally tasked with in this leadership role.”
But that willingness to help does not mean that things are easy for CAs. “Adding COVID-19 into the mix can be quite challenging for many CA’s, especially new CA’s. There’s definitely a lot more training and development that returning CA’s have to offer to our new CA’s,” Brinson said.
Yaz Simpson ‘23, who is starting her first year as a Community Advisor, expressed some of the challenges associated with being a CA. “When accepting my role as a CA I was incredibly excited,” she said, “but I was also oblivious to the fact that CA’s do a lot of work, especially during this crisis. Not only am I responsible for programming multiple weekly activities, but I’m also in charge of making sure everyone on my floor (or quad during On-Call nights), is safe during this pandemic.”
On top of being responsible for ensuring the health and safety of their residents, CAs have their own classes, co-curriculars, and social lives to keep up with. The burden of upholding the Community Care Agreement has fallen disproportionately upon Community Advisors.
Juggling their responsibilities and their own lives has not been easy on Denison’s CAs. “CAs give so much time to this job that it’s often hard to be looked at as just a ‘student,’” Brinson said.
“When you’re hired, there’s an emphasis on ‘you’re a student first’, but lately it hasn’t felt like that for some CAs. CAs are focused on making sure their residents are safe, completing 1:1s, having programs and community hours, amongst other tasks and activities. CAs are exhausted and it’s only the beginning of the school year. This is worrisome,” she explained.
Simpson offered some advice on what would help CAs during these times: “I honestly think the best way people can help the Community Advisors on campus is to hold yourselves, and your peers accountable. If you see a person without a mask on, respectfully tell them to put one on. I don’t want to go back home,” she said. “Help me by helping yourself: put on your mask, socially distance, abide by the Care Agreement, and we don’t go home!”