Being a SLUdent Leader on Campus During a Pandemic | St. Lawrence University

Being a SLUdent Leader on Campus During a Pandemic

Monday, November 9, 2020

Picture this: it’s a hectic, warm, August day on the deck of a local restaurant in my hometown. I am stressed, breathing heavily, and running in six different directions as a waitress. I feel a ping in my back pocket and run into the kitchen to check my phone.

I see an email saying, “We would love for you to come back to campus and be an Orientation Leader for the Class of 2024.” I am stunned. I don’t know how to react, or even how to reply. Someone yells, “Chloe! You have a table.” I lock my phone and go back to work.

I run down to meet the next table and my eyes meet the familiar St. Lawrence crest on the t-shirt of the young boy sitting in front of me. Immediately, I ask him his connection, curious and eager as usual to find the story behind his t-shirt.

The boy chuckles and says, “It’s crazy, but I actually will be a first year there in the fall.” Without missing a beat, I say, “That’s not crazy at all, St. Lawrence is amazing.”

His face broke into a smile and he seemed to let go of a deep breath of relief. That’s when my decision was made, even though it would be different, I was going back to St. Lawrence, as an Orientation Leader, without a doubt in my mind.

Fast forward and picture this: armed with my tie-dye bucket hat, a fully charged speaker, a mask, and a group of 80 energetic, kind and amazing CAs and OLs, I took on Orientation Week. Filled with obstacles, numerous Zoom calls and socially distanced gatherings, but also with the Canton sunshine, Dana dinners, and bike rides a-plenty. I couldn’t have asked for a better week at one of my favorite places.

As a group, we learned a variety of empowering lessons that will forever have a lasting impact on all of us. Being a student leader during a pandemic is hard work, but not impossible, and these are the amazing lessons we learned and followed along the way. Just remember to "ROLLSLU."

Radiate Love for St. Lawrence

First-year students were coming into a different type of SLU none of us had experienced before. It was important to teach these students what makes SLU so special, and why we needed them to be here. With hopes that if we as a community stayed safe, old traditions could remain, while new habits could take hold.

Open Mind and Adaptability

Be ready for just about anything! Orientation week can be a s-t-r-u-g-g-l-e and can test your abilities as a leader. The perfect recipe for keeping up with the never-ending list of responsibilities is three key ingredients: keep a positive attitude, be strong in the face of uncertainty, and think on your toes.

Lean On a Friend and Be There For Others

This week can take a toll and the best resources are other student leaders, going through the same feelings and battles, especially those included in your family unit. Also, remember to be mindful of others and check in!

Lead by Example

This is BIG! Practicing what you preach was essential for this year's Orientation Week. As leaders we were following the same precautions and needed to set the precedent for first-year students. We had to teach them the importance of staying at SLU and all of the benefits that comes with it.

Even with restrictions at an all-time high, we worked hard to show our students the other benefits to being in the beautiful safe haven of the North Country. This included the Grasse River, the Adirondack High Peaks, the trails on campus, and getting close to those that live in your hall more than ever before.

STOP!

Acknowledge your actions, and ask yourself, "do they correspond with the agreement of the Laurentian pact?" This was and continues to be a persistent check-in that everyone does every day, and if you don’t know ask!

Also, remember those Kids in the Q. Students of all class years came from multiple different locations and had to follow the precautions of the pandemic, which meant there were both new students and student leaders in quarantine. We had to work extra to keep them in the loop and involved while creating group inclusivity and a community feel.

Liveliness

Orientation leaders are always known for being loud but this year it was another level of energy, both virtually and in-person. Motivation was essential. (Tip: blasting Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa helps) 

Understanding

Everyone is going through different experiences of the pandemic. Being compassionate to others and letting everyone know they have an ally at SLU was essential. Also showing kindness in the best ways, wearing a mask, of course.

Even with much difficulty and struggle, we can all look at the glass half full when being a student leader during a pandemic. I was surrounded by wonderful human beings in a place that I am lucky enough to be back at, healthy and happy. Above all, I was grateful to be welcoming yet another group of students to a community and home that is like no other.