Elon building community virtually through upcoming events

In an effort to promote continued community building during a time of social distancing, Elon will offer a variety of virtual events and opportunities for students, faculty and staff to stay connected.

The Elon community is continuing the spring semester online to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), which means finding new ways to foster community building for students, faculty and staff.

The university’s new Community Building Team, chaired by Associate Director of Student Involvement Jenny Ciesiulka, has devised a plan to continue a number of campus events and traditions virtually.

“It is our responsibility to practice social distancing and to make sure that we’re doing our part to slow the spread,” Ciesiulka said. “But there are ways to stay connected with your community – whether that be the Elon community or folks from home. There’s a lot of creative ways that we’ve been trying to think about ‘how do we build community during this period of time?’

The committee came up with several ideas to help the Elon community stay connected over the next few weeks. Each virtual community building event is meant to create weekly opportunities for Elon students, faculty and staff to stay connected while away from campus. These opportunities will allow the community to continue to enjoy scheduled events and continue campus traditions, connecting the community back to campus in ways that are not labor-intensive and include wellness, music, spirituality, levity, ideas and more.

“I think it’s important that we don’t equate social distancing with complete isolation and that we find ways to reach out and continue to build the strong community that we have in a virtual space,” Ciesiulka said.

The series of events starts with a time-honored campus tradition. Beginning Tuesday, March 24, the campus community is invited to take part in a weekly virtual College Coffee. The campus-wide tradition will continue online every Tuesday from 9:40 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. Everyone is encouraged to make a cup of coffee or tea and connect with the rest of the Elon community via social media.

Each week students, faculty and staff can organize virtual “coffee chats” with other members of the Elon community or write letters to someone based on a prompt from the weekly College Coffee email. Community members can also share photos or their College Coffee experience using #ElonStayingConnected and help build community while students, faculty and staff are away from campus.

The Community Building Team has developed a number of other events and opportunities to help the community stay connected over the next few weeks:

Campus Traditions

  • Numen Lumen: Previously schedule Numen Lumen speakers will share their talks virtually via the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life’s social media channels
  • Phoenix Walks: The campus community will be encouraged to continue Phoenix Walks on Tuesdays at 7 a.m. and share photos on social media using the hashtag #ElonStayingConnected.

Wellness & Well-Being

  • Daily reflections on Facebook and Instagram from chaplains in the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
  • Campus Recreation and Wellness is offering a number of ways for the community to stay active and well while away from campus

Professional Development

The list of events and opportunities could also include a variety of other virtual community activities like book clubs, late-night programming, Maker Hub tutorials and more. Each upcoming event will be featured on the campus calendar and PhoenixCONNECT.

For all news and information related to Elon’s response to COVID-19, visit the university’s dedicated coronavirus website at elon.edu/coronavirus.

Chaired by Associate Director of Student Involvement Jenny Ciesiulka, the Community Building Team also includes Amy Chilcutt; assistant director of academic-residential partnerships; Jeff Clark, executive director of cultural and special programs; Patti Gibbons, associate director of cultural and special programs; Aliana Harrison, associate director of residence life; Robert Johnson, director of event and space management; Jenny Larson, associate director of campus recreation and wellness.