On Oct. 5, New College Student Alliance (NCSA) President and Catalyst co-Copy Editor Sofia Lombardi sent a weekly update to the student email list saying that she, Dean of Student Affairs Randy Harrell and Vice President of Student Affairs Salonee Labh were considering hiring a student COVID-19 liaison. Three weeks later, Lombardi announced thesis student Courtney Miller and second-year Oci Krasny as the two new COVID-19 liaisons hired by the NCSA to “improve communications and address student concerns surrounding COVID.” With one week of work behind them since the beginning of November, here’s what they aim to do with their new positions.
Both Miller and Kransy have previous experience working closely with New College administration or serving in a liaison position. While this is Kransy’s first time in a liaison position at New College, she has prior experience as the liaison of her high school’s band department. With this in mind, Krasny said that she saw the opportunity to become a COVID-19 liaison as an opportunity to make tangible change.
“I realized that it was something that I was capable of doing and that would actually be really helpful to the community,” Kransy said, “as someone who is willing to stand up for students and get things done.”
Meanwhile, Miller began working on the student advisory committee with Harrell over the summer, which got her involved in discussions surrounding COVID-19 guidelines. While Miller said that administration has put forward some helpful policies—specifically the increased sample size for testing—she still finds that something is lacking when it comes to student outreach.
“I think that the communications that are going to students are providing really useful information, but it’s just not presented in a medium that is conducive to students actually taking the time to read it,” Miller said. “It’s not super accessible to a student who doesn’t have time to go through a long email.”
After being approved by Human Resources, the COVID-19 liaison positions started work in the first week of November, and have focused on establishing office hours, introducing themselves to the New College community and gauging areas of concern among students.
“We want to start by really listening to the students and getting a sense of what’s going on and how they feel,” Miller said in relation to student opinions on COVID-19 policies. “We don’t want to make any assumptions about what we’ve heard here and there.”
In order to settle on a specific course of action, a poll will be sent out through the student email list in order to discern what kind of questions, concerns or suggestions students have for various COVID-19 policies. Krasny said that areas of concern can include administration policies on masks and social distancing, as well as student events.
“Once we get that information, we can start to focus on those goals specifically,” Krasny said.
Moving forward, an initiative Miller hopes to take on in her new position is to send “fundamental, really short, digestible pieces of content” through the student email list with news and information about COVID-19 as our understanding of it continues to evolve. Miller cites the recent CDC redefinition of “close contact” as an example of the type information that she hopes to provide students with.
“We assume that because we have knowledge, then everyone else has knowledge,” Miller said. “But it’s not like we all took a class on COVID-19. We’re all just going through it. So, I think it’s important to share that information and make it really accessible and digestible.”
Initiatives that Krasny aims to take on involve establishing an anonymous tip line for students to submit their concerns or questions, as well as open email communication.
“Something I really want to push is that if you have a concern, email me and I will be someone you can bring these things to,” Krasny said. “I want to be approachable in that sense.”
Miller and Krasny introduced themselves on the student email list on Nov. 6, posting a link to a “COVID Concerns Tip Line” and establishing their office hours as Mondays at 1 p.m., Tuesdays at 4 p.m, and Thursdays at 3 p.m.
“We came to this hoping to do slightly different things,” Miller said about both her and Krasny’s respective goals for this position. “Part of what I’m really excited about for working with her is the fact that she has those differences so we kind of cover different bases, which I think makes it a great team.”