Getting Student Affairs in order

Getting+Student+Affairs+in+order

Alicia Dougherty, Assistant News Editor

There was great reflection on this past year’s trials at the Student Affairs Town Hall meeting. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Artanya Wesley was joined by the directors of the Division of Student Affairs along with student body leaders Jaida Shallough and Amanda Patrick. 

The first issue tackled during the presentation was how the decline in enrollment has affected the Division of Student of Affairs since the start of the pandemic. The departments within the Division of Student Affairs include Bookstore Rental, University Health and Counseling Services, Career  and Leadership Development Services, CITEE, the Children’s Center, Dean of Students Office, University Center and Dining Services. 

Auxiliary fees are generated when students partake in housing services, dining services, and bookstore rental, which are stand alone business enterprises whose revenues are independent from the campus, meaning that their funds are generated by the services they provide alone. University housing generates  96 percent of its revenue from what are called non-allocable fees and auxiliary fees. 

Data presented showed that although there has been a steady decline in enrollment since fiscal year 2017, and that this past fiscal years drop was especially sharp. In the spring of 2020, the division lost $5.9 million worth of refunds caused by the pandemic. In the fall 2020/spring 2021 year, the university has lost $5.2 million as of April 1, marking the largest drop in housing and dining contracts to date. 

Revenue generated from non-allocable segregated fees has also declined due to enrollment by $450,000 which impacts departments that provide University Health and Counseling Services, the Children’s Center, Career and Leadership Development, the University Center, and Textbook rental. However, before and through the pandemic there has been an increase in demand for the some services provided within the division – especially mental health services.

Staffing for these departments has also been an issue with 66 percent of 3-month furloughs falling within the Division of Student Affairs creating a 25 percent temporary loss of crucial staff. Other issues included VSIPS, retirement, positions held open, and permanent reductions which amount to a 10 percent loss. 

However, the division is looking to alternative methods to increase revenue through grants and partnerships, as well as also implementing two structural changes that provide services more efficiently and effectively. The first change is that Career and Leadership Development services will merge with the University Center. The second change is that University Health and Counseling Services will shift from an executive director model to a shared co-director model.

The meeting was then passed on to student leaders Jaida Shallough and Amanda Patrick. Both reported on the sense of belonging and normality among students.

“The sense of belonging is really lacking this year and that is really due to us not being able to make connections with other students because of room restrictions, hybrid and virtual classes, and lack of in-person events,” said Shallough. “We also have difficulties accessing resources such as health and counseling services because many students are trying to utilize that resource this year.”

Overall, both student leaders said that students are looking forward to connecting with their fellow students through events, and being able to engage with classes more effectively through in-person classes.

The meeting then opened up for questions which included questions about what the directors of the division felt was the biggest area of support to students going forward. Interim Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs for the Dean of Students Office Dr. Elizabeth Watson mentioned one of the things learned through the pandemic was how much the availability of virtual attendance has increased engagement among students and community members. 

“For the Dean of Students Office, it has been an opportunity to support students through good times and through crises as well as to support the larger community and understanding how we continue to support the safety and the needs of the students at large,” said Watson.

Other questions asked how to promote retention rates and how to support the division. The common theme with answering both questions was collaboration with academic departments to promote student success.    

A video highlighting some of the successes and perseverance of the Student Affairs departments staff and faculty was also played during the meeting which focused on the following:

Bookstore Rental

  • Expanded shipping: 4,907 orders, added full-services pick-up options, extended hours & pre-pulled textbooks
  • Increased access to digital course materials of online & hybrid courses
  • Retained student employees through store closures

Career and Leadership Development:

  • 75+ events held virtually with over 4,400 in attendance
  • Virtual advising appointments & virtual drop-in assistance daily for career, involvement, and cultural areas
  • Supported 188 Student Organizations with training, recognition, cultural competency, education & staff presentations 
  • 10 virtual career fairs with 1750+ student attendees and 350+ employees

Center for Inclusion Transition, Education, & Employment (CITEE):

  • Retained student employees, GAs, and interns through remote and hybrid work arrangements
  • Transitioned all work into virtual programming
  • CITEE’s Employment Connections continued programming in a hybrid model serving 83 students, 63 alumni, and 32 community members with disabilities seeking jobs throughout the pas year resulting in 17 hires/jobs

Children Center

  • Opened services during the summer months to serve infants and children under 5 years olds.
  • Increased sanitation and cleaning protocols
  • Expanded services with virtual offerings during time of closure to support children and families, but also including support to ECE practicum students
  • Retained student employees

Dean of Students Office 

  • Open both virtually and in-person with no disruption to services
  • Provide ongoing support of students in crises & need; support families and students with information and resources
  • Continues to be a leader in campus safety through: Student Conduct; CARE team; crisis intervention; Medical withdrawal; Collaboration with community members on Safety; support to faculty in the classroom; Partner with housing, university police, and the EOC; and a system-wide partner for problem solving

Dining Services

  • Delivered meals to students that are in quarantine/isolation (COVID/Clem Meals)
  • Offered meal services in Prairie Street Market to students who were unable to go home during the spring 2020 shutdown and over the summer
  • Implemented Safe Cafe to increase our safety standards for employees and customers 
  • Maintained student employment in the 2020-2021 academic year

University Center

  • Increased sanitation and cleaning protocol, set up sanitation stations, and added plexiglass barriers at front desks
  • Implemented and Increased hybrid services
  • Hosted and supported mandatory campus COVID-19 testing
  • Transitioned and expanded virtual programming, and hosted over 65 virtual programs for students 

University Health and Counseling Services

  • Provided 8,838 virtual and in person appointments for health and counseling 
  • Provided 80+ virtual and in-person wellness programs across campus
  • Provided 8,994 COVID tests and 621 vaccinations, in additions to contact tracing

University Housing

  • Developed hundreds of programs, events, and academic interventions 
  • Moved forward to adapt and update infrastructure, developed an expansive disinfection process for residence halls, and reconfigured the UWW-TV broadcast operations and productions fieldwork areas
  • Implemented Drive-Through Extended Drop Only process to limit congestions during the Move-In period
  • Supported testing and enforcement of COVID policies while providing safe and secure housing for students in need of quarantine isolation.

UW-Whitewater-Rock County

  • Solution Center opened both in person and virtually to provide services to students
  • Collaborated with UW-Whitewater Student Affairs units and Rec Sports to offer student services and programming both in person and virtually to UW-Whitewater at Rock Country student 
  • Programming Broad provided onsite activities for students that included open gaming, gym, and themed activities throughout the year
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