It’s Mar. 16, 2020 and you receive an email from Chad Coleman, the director of student life operations, letting you know that the residence halls are closing and you have 48 hours to vacate Goshen College’s campus.

The coronavirus is to blame.

Life hasn’t been the same on campus since Mar. 16.

But faculty and students are working hard to retain a sense of normalcy while following the Big Four and attempting to combat this global pandemic.

Last May, the Goshen College Pandemic Task Force was created in preparation for the 2020-21 school year.

Last Friday, a campus-wide email was sent out introducing the Student-Led Pandemic Task Force team.

While the Pandemic Task Force is responsible for making decisions that revolve around our COVID-19 guiding framework, considering specific operational responsibilities, and ensuring that the campus is ready to respond accordingly to the pandemic– the student-led team serves a different purpose.

Created by vice president for student life and dean of students, Giberto Perez Jr., the Student-Led PTF dials in on communicating, promoting, connecting, and collaborating with students on the work the PTF is engaged in. 

Essentially, their work includes giving administration feedback on policies, creating care packages for students impacted by the pandemic, reaching out to remote students and those in isolation, and orchestrating possible events.

“One of the reasons for coming up with the Student-Led PTF was to invite more students to the table for engaging in how the college is working to address the pandemic on our campus,” Perez said.

“Providing students more opportunities to enter leadership experiences is what we are striving for in Student Life thus the creation of the Student-Led PTF,” Perez added. “Having more students at the decision-making table at Goshen College helps administrators learn about the resilience factors students are exhibiting on our campus during this pandemic.”

Wes Beck, a second-year chemistry and secondary education major, was one of three students on the Pandemic Task Force last semester before the student-oriented group came about.

“Everyone knows last semester was pretty rough and long and we felt like student interests weren’t being represented as well as they could have been,” Beck said.

Meeting once every other week, Beck revealed that the Student-Led PTF is currently working towards modifying the visitation policy in order to fit everyone’s desires as best as possible.

Third-year exercise science major, Ronit Goswami, also served on the Pandemic Task Force before the emergence of this student-led team.

“Being able to guide and help students through a never before seen pandemic and getting to do something that is benefitting my community is the reason that I chose to be a part of this team,” Goswami explained.

As of now, other members of the Student-Led Pandemic Task Force include fourth-year students, Sandra Cortez, Krislynn Lancaster, Eden George, and Katja Norton, with additional students expressing interest in joining the group.

Perez says, “Involving more students allows our work to become stronger because more voices can contribute to creating the processes that we need to be engaged in as a college in this difficult time.”

“I observe resilience factors in students such as empathy, humor, adaptive distancing, positive, caring relationships, and realistic appraisal of the environment,” he said. “The more we hear from students about how best to support one another, the better our experiences on campus will be in this pandemic.”