The University of Lynchburg has ramped up COVID testing of students, faculty and staff for the spring 2021 semester.
However, a rumor has been circulating that there is a difference in COVID testing fees between commuter and residential students, but this rumor is false. According to Dean of Students, Dr. Aaron Smith, “There is not a difference in the testing fees for residential students and commuter students. The type of test would determine if there is a cost that goes to any student, but there is not a difference in cost for different students.”
On Feb. 15th, the University of Lynchburg hosted its first of five wellness days for students to replace spring break which has been cancelled because of COVID.
The University hopes to mitigate the spread of COVID by decreasing the possibility of student travel over the break. Wellness days are supposed to give students an opportunity to relax and to take a break from academic studies.
The University organized spiritual and physical activities to participate in throughout the day.
Junior Keturah Forbes said, “I think it is a good idea but for people that have jobs on campus they don’t have a free day so the wellness day is not particularly ideal for them.”
On Feb. 27 and 28, the University of Lynchburg Ethics Bowl Team will be competing in the national Ethics Bowl competition.
They will be competing in a competition sponsored by the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE). The team worked their way through 15 competitions to become one of the top Ethics Bowl Teams in the nation. They placed third in their regional competition, allowing them to participate in nationals.
Dr. Kicklighter, coach of the Ethics Bowl Team and a professor at the university, explained that the Ethics Bowl Team is a “group activity in which students research, develop positions, and debate on a multitude of ethical issues. We participate in three to four events throughout the academic year. For most of these, we are given a case packet about two months before the competition, and we spend practice researching, discussing approaches, and practicing debating our stance on these topics. Students take and defend whatever their stance is, rather than being assigned a position.”
Andrew Devening, or Drew, is a Lynchburg native who has hit the ground running since starting at the University of Lynchburg as the case manager and wellness educator.
He is also co-chair for Peer Advocates For Campus Education (PACE) and director of the STEP-UP program, which is a new program that was implemented to raise awareness and training against bullying, hazing, domestic violence, harassment, and assault at the University of Lynchburg.
Devening was raised in Lynchburg and graduated from E.C. Glass High School in 2008 before attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where he originally planned to major in physics, before switching and obtaining a degree in psychology in 2012.
The Modern Language Resource Center, or MLRC, offers both in-person and virtual tutoring at the University of Lynchburg.
Students taking classes in French, German, Latin, or Spanish can book one-on-one appointments with a tutor where they can get help on assignments, review material, and have conversation practice. In addition, students can also rent foreign language movies.
Dr. Sharon Robinson is the director of the MLRC. She said that in response to the pandemic, the MLRC was adapted for virtual learning. However, students have the option of going in to the center’s physical location, which is Schewel Hall 366, for “pandemically-safe” tutoring.
Sigma Phi Epsilon (Sig Ep) is gearing up for spring rush this week, and it might look a little different than previous years. Starting Feb. 15, the fraternity will be hosting “Wing Night” in the Hopwood Auditorium.
Sig Ep is one of four fraternities on campus at the University of Lynchburg. Recruiting new members each year is important for the fraternity to replace the seniors who will be graduating this year.
Members of group believe that being in a fraternity at Lynchburg has many benefits.
Junior Bobby Nevarez released a new EP called “Patiently Waiting” nine days ago. Making music has been a time-consuming activity for Nevarez , but he found that a busy schedule has forced him to find time to focus on schoolwork.
Nevarez said, “When I first felt what I felt from music I knew I wanted to commit my life to pursuing it.” He has been singing ever since he was a kid, and knew this was not just a hobby, but something he was going to take seriously while balancing school and sports.
Nevarez is also on the track and field team at the University of Lynchburg which takes up a good portion of his time. He said, “Balancing my ambition [for] music with track and school is a constant learning process.” He explained he works better under pressure and this type of schedule has forced him into a routine.
Though the specifics vary from discipline to discipline, all senior students at the University of Lynchburg undergo the process of writing a thesis.
Jer Bryant, director of the Wilmer Writing Center, explained that there are common elements to a thesis project within each discipline.
“Firstly, students usually begin with brainstorming. They ask questions related to their interests, to what they know and what they want to know. Eventually, they move from the panoptic to the microscopic, narrowing down their research question. Most read to ascertain where they want to go. They find a research question or topic that they want to explore, one that is not overly done. They may wish to join a conversation and add to it, or they may desire to start a conversation. Students often work with their advisors to narrow down a focus. Regardless, it should be a focus that adds to people’s understanding, their edification.”
The University of Lynchburg had a successful fall Semester in 2020 in terms of keeping COVID-19 cases to a minimum, and this success came from the University’s specific planning.
Though there were many instances where students tested positive for COVID-19, Lynchburg made it through a full semester in the fall without sending all its students home. With the spring 2021 semester upon us, Lynchburg reflects on the past as it prepares for the future.
Smith said, “Folks are put in a position where they have to be receptive to preparing in a new way and learning in a new way.” Putting students in the position where they have to improve their critical thinking skills will help in the future.
Lynchburg transitioned back into a letter grading system as opposed to pass and fail grades which was the case for the spring 2020 semester. Students have been given some time to adjust to online classes, but they now have had almost a full calendar year under their belts.
As pandemic restrictions continue, internships can be difficult to come by for students, who normally need one to graduate.
Rachel Parent who currently has an internship through a law firm in Richmond said, “Honestly it was very unique. My office did not allow for our clients to come in, and we all were mandated to wear masks either in our cubicles, office, or the hallways. We were unable to participate in team bonding activities either. Overall, it was not bad but very different than how it would have been had I not started during the pandemic.”
Parent got her internship through her interactions on social media connections. She said, “I think having connections helped, but staying pro-active in my role was what allowed me to keep my internship as well as move forward within my firm.”
The Outdoor Leadership Program (OLP) spring semester calendar is action packed with careful considerations for pandemic restrictions.
Timothy Slusser, the Outdoor Leadership Program coordinator said he is “looking forward to the sea kayaking expedition and the rafting trips are always a personal favorite of mine” and the return of the ropes that the OLP “had to cancel the open ropes course in the fall because of the weather.” Slusser is also excited for “some new programs [which] include the Survival Tip Tuesday Clinics and the Survival Overnight Challenge.”
This semester is not without its hardships, both weather and COVID being forces that are unpredictable at times and Slusser said that while “the Outdoor Leadership Program does have a contingency plan in the unfortunate event that we have to quarantine due to Covid activity,” he encouraged everyone to “please wear your mask and wash your hands.”
There are many options available for students seeking mental health support at the University of Lynchburg, including making appointments at the Counseling Center or joining the “Coping with COVID” small virtual group.
Vice President and Dean for Student Development, Dr. Aaron Smith said, “Students can seek assistance with our Counseling Center, we have several highly qualified licensed professional counselors who are available to meet in person or online to help guide our students. They have an array of offerings and specialties that can help our students through challenging situations. Additionally, we have a resource called Therapy Assistance Online (TAO) which can help our community members who experience stress or anxiety.”