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Office of the VP for Student Life

Building Community in Challenging Times

In recent months, the divisiveness and rancor of the current national political context as well as recent events on UW campuses have weighed heavily on University of Washington students, faculty and staff alike. In the places where we live, learn, work and gather, each of us faces the challenge of dealing with a wide spectrum of emotions while continuing to navigate the demands of our daily lives.

Recognizing that our students – regardless of personal background, field of study, or political affiliation – are especially impacted by the current climate, and are actively seeking meaningful ways to manage their emotions, make meaning of current events and connect with others, the Division of Student Life has undertaken an effort to design a collaborative, cross-campus approach to ensure that our students are equipped with the skills, tools and experiences needed to navigate these challenging times.

This Program Framework for Building Community in Challenging Times represents the results of our efforts to help our campus move forward during this challenging period. Click here to download the Framework document, which the Division of Student Life is pleased to make available to faculty and staff who offer engagement opportunities and other forms of support to our students. A hard copy is available upon request. Please review the framework with the following caveats:

  • This is not a student-facing document—rather, it is intended for those of us on campus who offer programs and workshops for students
  • This is an attempt to bring existing and future campus efforts into alignment and to bring cohesion to the thoughtful, yet fractured approach to programs that is currently taking place in different areas
  • It asks that we focus our programmatic efforts on five distinct areas (explained more fully in the document):
    • Reducing Anxiety
    • Promoting Development & Learning
    • Differing Perspectives
    • Contact, Exchange, & Equity
    • Meaningful Engagement
  • This approach is applicable to all students, regardless of their views on the current climate
  • It is not a panacea, rather it is another rung in the ladder (or spoke in the wheel) to help us reach our goals
  • Smaller programs (related to these 5 themes) aimed at constituent groups in academic departments and administrative areas would be most effective

The Division of Student Life has also created small advisory teams comprised of individuals with expertise in mental health, UW student policies, student development and communications who would be pleased to meet with you and/or other representatives from your departments to discuss implementation of this framework.

If you are interested in having one of our teams visit with your faculty or staff, please contact our Student Affairs Specialist, Sean Ferris who can help with arrangements.

Image of the cover page of the Student Life Program Framework for Building Community in Challenging Times