Region VII Newsletter March 2020

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Highlights from our


Greetings Region VII! Vinny began his newsletter greeting back in September saying each academic year brings "returning challenges and new situations." I don't think any of us could have predicted the unprecedented situations that COVID-19 is putting us all in right now. Since Vinny is working on crisis response, I'm stepping in to write the highlights for the regional newsletter. This newsletter was due out in January, but I went into labor earlier than expected and my editing duties were put on hold. I know the ACUI family is stressed and heartbroken about the welfare of our students, the cancellation of the Annual Conference, and the uncertainty of of future, so I figured now is a good time to connect us all together via the newsletter. It's been odd to observe higher education's pandemic response from the sidelines of my maternity leave. Please know I'm sending you all strength, health, and elbow bumps as you work tirelessly to build community in innovative ways given the circumstances. I'd like to applaud those of you working extra hours to care for your students. I'd also like to extend special recognition to Central Office staff, the Board of Trustees, and the 2020 Conference Program Team for their commitment to the health and safety of our members. I'm hopeful we'll be together again for Atlanta 2.0 soon.

This newsletter is a hybrid of BC (before-coronavirus) articles and after. A special thank you to all contributing authors who wrote in a moment's notice. As you will see in this newsletter, plans are underway for the Region VII Conference at Howard University in November. On pages 7–9, you'll meet the Conference Planning Team and read excerpts from host chair Reginald LeGrier's reveal. Mark your calendars for November 19–21 as the region gathers in person for fellowship and learning. I have a feeling we'll have a lot to share. It appears navigating our new normal will be more like a marathon than a sprint. In order to build our stamina, we must practice self-care. Gretchen Rubin, NYT bestselling author of The Happiness Project, suggests the following as an emergency kit for worry, anxiety, and stress: 1. Reframe. Instead of seeing stress as a bad thing, and a source of worry itself, think about how stress is actually helpful. 2. Calm your breathing. 3. Reach out to others for support. 4. Find a distraction. Giving yourself a mental break can help restore energy and perspective. 5. Plan and prepare. Once we begin, we often feel much calmer and able to move forward. 6. Take action in the world. If you're worried about something, try to take action to fix it or change it. 7. Make a list. 8. Conserve your energy. Get your sleep; get some exercise; don't inundate yourself with upsetting news. 9. Identify the problem. What exactly is the source of your anxiety? Often we have only a vague sense. 10. Schedule time to worry. 11. Seek more information on whatever is worrying you. Though beware latenight Googling! 12. Start tracking. If you're worried about a physical symptom or a pattern of behavior, start keeping a record.

Please know that if I can assist with anything or if you are simply looking to chat, then please reach out Be well,


GOALS 2019-2020 Advancing inclusion goals into action by documenting standards in which our services incorporate everyone Aim to be the role model for other regions in defining the words diversity, inclusion, and equity and what that means for Region VII Build an engaged, caring, and welcoming community that strives to meet the need of all members Connect community of practice leaders and communities to engage and develop further learning & networks Create and implement an intentional assessment plan to help guide the region Creating a budget that is fiscally responsible and accessible Creating an education plan for the region that aligns with the associations education plan as outlined by the education council Expanding our knowledge of best practices outside the union by researching other industry standards (e.g. hotel, amusement parks, etc.) Foster holistic development for each member Foster personal well-being of members in our region through social connectivity and by providing an engaging atmosphere Identify inclusion and practices of equity and social responsibility within Region VII Identify innovative practices at member institutions to share their creativity in regional communication Maintain timely communications for events, and opportunities Provide diverse and accessible professional and personal development opportunities to all regional members Work towards making visible the invisible (mental health, autism, differently abled)

Mark your calendar for

UPCOMING EVENTS 100th Annual Conference Atlanta, Postponed TBD Collegiate Clay Target Championships San Antonio, Postponed May or June 2020

CUPSI IPDS: New Professionals Orientation Virginia Commonwealth University, Cancelled Ohio State University, June 15-19 Student Organization Institue University of Delaware, June 15-18

I-LEADÂ ÂŽ Xavier University, July 26-31

Aspiring Directors Institute Ohio State University, June 15-19

Collegiate Marketing Institute Pittsburgh, November 11-13

Region VII Conference Howard University, November 19-21

Updates from the 2020 Region VII



The ribbon cutting ceremony at the regional conference signals the start of the planning process for next year's conference! Meet the 2020 Regional Conference Planning Team below: Education coordinator: Nick Wagner, SUNY Delhi Entertainment coordinator: Heather Maclin, Daeman College Fundraising coordinator: Kim Celano, Temple University Keynotes and All Conference Session coordinator: Casey Coleman, Montclair State University Marketing and evaluation coordinator: Sabrina Selvaggio, Rutgers University–New Brunswick Registration and evaluation coordinator: Ashley Wallace, American University Student experience coordinator: Jennylee Ramos: Temple University Technology and logistics coordinator: Rowan University Vendor and sponsorship coordinator: Chrissie King, Rutgers University-Camden Volunteer and member engagement coordinator: Lorraine De Leon, Suffolk County Community College 2020 conference coordinator: Ashley Venneman, University of Maryland 2020 conference host team chair: Reginald LeGrier II, Howard University 2021 conference coordinator: Andrea Giachino, Temple University Central Office liaison: Jake Dawes, ACUI

Updates from the 2020 Region VII



Ashley Venneman, 2020 regional conference coordinator, and Reginald LeGrier II, 2020 host coordinator, cut the ribbon signaling the start of the planning process. As Ashley and Reginald announced the site for the 2020 regional conference, conference attendees learned the following: Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. To date, Howard has awarded more than 120,000 degrees in the arts, the sciences, and the humanities. Howard ranks highest among producers of the nation’s Black professionals in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, engineering, nursing, architecture, religion, law, music, social work, and education. The historic main campus sits on a hilltop in Northwest Washington blocks from the storied U Street and Howard Theatre. We are two miles from the U.S. Capitol where many students intern, and scores of alumni shape national and foreign policy. There are many things that can be said about Howard University such as being a leader in the STEM Fields, having historic landmarks on campus, famous alumni

from the entertainment, film, and art genres, and having a history that has been instrumental in social justice and advocacy both in the past and present. The University’s motto of Truth & Service is our foundation and represents a key part of our identity. I can go and on and on but you will definitely get more than just a taste of Howard University next year. In 1979, the Armour J. Blackburn University Center was opened based on a vision initiated by Dr. Armour J. Blackburn who served in a myriad of roles including Dean of Students. Since its’ inception the Center has brought together various and diverse elements which help to create an environment that is reflective of the current campus community. 40 years later under a purposeful initiative – 3Rs (restore, rebuild, and rebrand) we strive to continue to uphold and enhance Dr. Blackburn’s vision by ensuring that we take pride and create sustainable solutions for a facility that serves as the living room of Howard University. As such, we have focused our efforts on evolving the center into a place that adds value to the experiences that students, staff, faculty, and other campus stakeholders. It is an exciting time for the Blackburn University Center as we are under building renovations. These renovations will provide a more distinguished purpose and many more opportunities for students, staff, and faculty to utilize as a platform for their academic, social, and career presence. We are excited to share our campus, our Center, and our vision for an outstanding 2020 ACUI Region VII Conference. Most importantly, we are excited to share the culture that makes Howard University unique and the purpose for which we stand!

Stay tuned as different members of the conference planning team will share updates in their planning process in subsequent issues of our newsletter.

Musings from Region VII's


COORDINATOR Hello everyone from your Inclusivity Coordinator, Jay Patel. I am here to continue the tradition of Random Thoughts in Diversity to encourage our colleagues to think outside the box around the topics of diversity and inclusion. As we continue to build a community in our unions, it is always important to remember the people who contribute to it.

Random Thoughts on Diversity & Inclusion There is more than one new year? Many religious and/or cultural identities celebrate the New Year at different times of the year.For example, Chinese New Year is January 25, 2020 (Year of the Rat). People may celebrate one, both or none. Are your pronouns in your email signature and name tag? Your union may be diverse but not inclusive! Think about how we are teaching our students about identities all year rather than just celebrating them on specific occasions When picking a date for your program take a look at cultural, religious, or identity–based holidays. Inclusion works best in practice when everyone can contribute. Asian is not just one identity. Everyone has a different story. Students may share the same identity but not the same story You cannot always see a disability, most are invisible We cannot teach self-care to students if we do not practice it ourselves

COVID-19 Message COVID -19 has changed our daily routine dramatically. As we try to adapt to constant changes in our society, we want to let you know that Region VII is here for you. As you may have heard, these recent developments have created more discrimination towards Asian Americans in our country. We ask that you continue to support these students along with those directly affected. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us for support. And I leave you with this: “An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reflections from an Associate Member

REGION VII CONFERENCE Steve Korchynsky, President & Master FunCrafter Blue Apple Productions Although I’d heard the acronym before in speaking with clients in higher education, I didn’t know much about ACUI and had never been to a conference before. This past year however, I had the opportunity to attend the Region VII Conference at Rowan University, November 14–16, and it was a great experience. As a vendor/sponsor, my involvement was primarily focused on the Vendor Expo—held during lunch time hours near the main programming spaces. Blue Apple Productions services colleges and universities in the Northeast for on-campus programming and entertainment needs and this presented a wonderful opportunity to showcase some of our offerings live in person to professionals and student leaders involved in student activities and programming. There were delegates from over 55 institutions at the conference, and I had countless participants stop at our station. The best part was that I was able to have one-on-one interactions with individuals and really help them with a hands-on experience. We featured one of our latest interactive photo experiences, the Photo Mosaic Wall, and it was a huge hit. The completed Mosaic was also part of the live auction! It was well worth my time and effort to make the trip and connect with everyone in attendance. Although I didn’t experience the conference from the standpoint of the school delegates, I could tell that they enjoyed whole experience and were engaged by everything else that the conference offered—educational sessions, mixers, activities, and more. Thank you to the organizers!

Who's Innovating in Region VII

SERVICE AND LEADERSHIP THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY Service Weekends: Rebranding the Traditional Alternative Break Experience The Struggle

The downtick in volunteer and service involvement among college students is a national trend. This is something I learned on a conference call with Break Away as they discussed their nation-wide assessment on Alternative Break programs. I found and odd sense of comfort in knowing that Penn State was not alone. I also felt discouraged in realizing that my challenges may be much bigger than I thought. So what is not connecting Gen Z students as strongly to service trip programs? How can we show value in these opportunities while meeting a changing student’s needs? These are the questions my student board and I asked ourselves this past year, and our brainstorming has led to some pretty exciting results.

The Brainstorm

My student board thought about their peers’ college experiences, time commitments, financial pressures, and career readiness focuses. I shared our field’s research on Gen Z, showing students want marketing and programs that are to the point and they are drawn to positive opportunities to make a difference. With these factors in mind, it seemed clear that a service opportunity would still be desired among Gen Z students, we just had to take into account the different time commitment needs and aspects of the experiences that we were stressing. These discussions brought us to the creation of our Service Weekend program. These trips would run Friday after classes until Sunday afternoon to meet Gen Z students’ preference for condensed programming.

The trips would work with communities that were far enough away for students to consider it removed from their every day, but close enough that it was logistically feasible. We would market the trips as tying to career preparation and global citizenship, and a great alternative for folks who need smaller time and financial commitments.

The Results

We launched our pilot program for our Service Weekend in Spring 2019 to an overwhelming interest from the student body. We planned two more Service Weekends in Fall 2019 with similar interest and response. We’ve gone to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, with trip focuses on housing security, activism through the arts, and food aparteid. These trips have been our most competitive processes to date, with one trip having three times the number of applicants than the number of spots. Participant feedback from the programs has been positive, with many going on to apply for other trips and leadership positions for future programs. The process is still new for us and we are trying to find avenues to grow it further, but we are proud of our start. What was made clear to me through this process is that our problem isn’t students not caring about service. Our problem is if we are not developing our service opportunities to meet our students’ changing needs. Penn State Alternative Break Service Weekend initiative is our attempt to meet that need, and I am so excited to see how much more our students can learn, serve, and grow as a result. Heather Veale is the program coordinator for service and leadership at the Pennsylvania State University.

Check out these


OPPORTUNITIES Volunteer Volunteering for Region VII is a great way to expand your network, develop your skills, and give back to your professional association of choice. Episodic Volunteer Team opportunities will be announced via email, social media, and on the regional website.


Scholarships from Region VII are available to participate in the Women’s Leadership Institute, I-LEAD®, IPDS, the Student Organizations Institute, an annual conference, or a regional conference. Applications will be accepted through April 10 online at

Connect Now's a great time to reach out to a colleague to encourage self-care and stress management. Take a moment to touch base with one another. Kind people are our kind of people!

Experiencing the effects of COVID-19 from the

STUDENT PERSPECTIVE Serafina Genise, student member of the Regional Leadership Team from Rowan University, shares her experience from the last few weeks. The coronavirus or COVID-19 was something that no one ever expected and let alone to have this kind of impact. When the coronavirus became an everyday topic in our office it still felt very far away, I mean it was on the other side of the world and country. Our institution was quick to implement preventative measures. Our office joked about the songs we hummed while washing our hands and affectionately named a stack of clorox wipes in our office, Mount Clorox. The two weeks leading up to spring break were when it became more serious. First the institution decided to extend spring break, at first I felt relieved because I could finally catch up on my class assignments but then I thought about the events that were supposed to happen that week. Two of those events were able to be postponed or adjusted but one had to be cancelled. The students and myself weren’t too upset at the time because we were working on moving and adjusting the events to save what we could and we also had the rest of the semester to look forward to. We knew that there were meetings being had about what we would do moving forward and it just became when there is something for us to hear we will hear it. It wasn’t until New York declared a state of emergency and I was chaperoning one of our off-campus trips to see a broadway show when my supervisor and I questioned if we should still go. After that the conversations became should we still attend the annual conference, are we going online for the

rest of the semester, are we still going to be programming as normal? When we left for spring at the end of that week the answers to those questions were postponed, yes, and yes. I had a sense of relief knowing that we were finally getting some answers but with that also came concerns on how I would be able to take my classes online. I know there were other students and professors who shared those same concerns, but we had two weeks to figure that out. Since spring break started five days ago all our events have been cancelled. With students going home, some potentially not coming back for the rest of the semester, it changes the environment. It is now just a waiting game and hoping that we can get back to normal soon enough.

Region VII Town Hall Meeting April 15, 2020 at Noon Please join the Regional Leadership Team on April 15, 2020 at Noon for the annual Town Hall Meeting. While the agenda would normally review items from the 2020 Annual Conference business meeting, a majority of the time will be set aside for COVID-19 crisis response and breakout rooms for focused conversation. To submit questions in advance, please email Regional Director, Vincent Jackson at Instructions to attend the scheduled Zoom meeting in various formats: Time: Apr 15, 2020 12:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) Join Zoom Meeting One tap mobile +16468769923,,506368152# US (New York)

Experiencing the effects of COVID-19 from the

PROFESSIONAL PERSPECTIVE Eric Margiotta, Education Council member, shares a recap of the recent ACUI Virtual Conversessions: Coronavirus Precautions and the Effects on Campus Community. On Tuesday, March 17, I was fortunate to facilitate a gathering of campus community builders entitled "ACUI Virtual Conversessions: Coronavirus Precautions and the Effects on Campus Community." Due to COVID-19, many campuses had moved classes online for the semester and many more were headed in that direction. The discussion topic was centered around how we can engage students virtually and it became much more than that. Conversation began by discussing different strategies people had employed (or were looking to employ) to either stay connected or provide some connection points and/or entertainment to students from their campuses. The conversation was wideranging touching on student organizations, student staff, and student government. Stepping back and having had some time to process helped me realize a few things: this was an early moment in this discussion. At times the silence was overwhelming and it was because there are no solid answers yet. We are all in the midst of developing best practices and this modality is in its nascent stages. Another thing I felt was that most people were still trying to adjust to the cavalcade of changes and working locations while simultaneously working to understand how students are adjusting and how they want to engage.

It struck me that we are in transition as much as our students are. There will be many feelings as people adapt and work through what the transition feels like from all of the different lenses and identities they hold. Our students are experiencing transition as well and what they want and need now may not be the same as it is months in the future. The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly change our work and likely the landscape of higher education. One thing that will not change is student union and activities professionals desire to care for, engage, and develop students. Please see the Campus Life and Program Management Community of Practice on for more discussions and ideas for virtual programming.

COVID-19: A Haiku Students, staff now gone Student union tumbleweeds We’ll be back better

COVID-19 Resources COVID-19 is changing the world and impacting higher education. The ACUI resources at may assist you in navigating how to best serve your students and colleagues through this ever-changing situation.

Who's Innovating in Region VII


Social Distancing: A Cool Name for a Band, a Trying Time for Higher Education

Over the course of 15 days, we have gone from preparation to essential personnel only to report. Buffalonians are experts in making quick trips to the grocery store for a day or two worth of supplies to ride out a few feet of snow. We have learned to power through lanes of roadway that haven’t been plowed to make it to work. Some of us have event slept under our desk because we couldn’t get home due to whiteout conditions that were too difficult to traverse. We have also had the misfortune of having to cancel a program here or there because the weather was just too bad, and we didn’t want to put anyone in harm’s way. These conditions are part of life in Buffalo and Western New York; we know how to handle the snow and wear it like a badge of honor. What we are currently experiencing through the COVID-19 pandemic has moved beyond unprecedented and fluid, to tumultuous and extraordinary. In my

lifetime, I have never experienced anything more than the excited anticipation of seeing my school on the news ticker as closed for five days in a row because of a big snow storm. This time, with no snow, my excited anticipation is replaced with anxiety and I am publishing the news ticker. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on March 11 that all SUNY and CUNY institutions were to move to distance learning for the remainder of the spring semester. This was not a conversation happening on our campuses, this was not something we thought we would hear. Our campus plan was to extend spring break by one week and move to distance learning beginning March 30. My staff and I were anticipating some event cancellations for student programs as they made their way to an early spring break, but not many. Conversations were beginning to take place with our counterparts in programming about how engagement might look with fewer students on campus, and how to program online if it came to that. This we could prepare for; this we could handle. On March 12, guidance from the Governor and CDC was issued indicating that gatherings of more than 50 people were to be suspended. For my staff and I, this meant our upcoming weekend of an event-packed building would cease. Sharing the unfortunate news with our student organizations was soon followed by frantic attempts to grant an exception, then to reschedule, then to wait to see what would happen.

As the guidance from state, local, and campus officials has gotten more restrictive, the more challenging the Union operations have become. As Governor Cuomo made the decision on March 16 to close bars and restaurants to dine-in customers, we have had to remove seating and spread chairs to discourage students from congregating. Student building managers became decontamination experts in a matter of hours wiping down door handles, handrails, and other “high touch� surfaces. The Governor also ordered state agencies to direct 50% of their workforce to telecommute. Beginning on March 17, only essential personnel were to report to campus; I am designated as essential. Our partners in dining services transitioned, literally overnight, from take-out to delivery service on campus. What is usually the busiest and loudest spot on campus has turned into a quiet and desolate one. With everything changing so quickly, I am thankful for the creativity, flexibility, and good spirits of my staff and colleagues. Student unions and activities folks, this is our time to shine! We are planners, we are creators, we are educators. We are the supporters; we are the leaders during challenging times. Colleagues, we are the people others on campus turn to in crisis because we have the expertise to handle fluidity, ever-changing, unknown and uncharted territory. It is time to take this expertise and create the community our world will need now and moving forward. We are community builders.

Kristen Mruk is the associate director for student leadership and engagement in the Campbell Student Union at Buffalo State College.

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Temple University's Student Center hosted an impromptu end of year banquet for student staff right before emergency move-out, with an informal graduation for seniors. Caps were made with recycled posterboard and ribbon tassels! Megan Milford, building manager, said, "Being a college senior has been horrible the past several days. We've lost the opportunity for closure and, let me tell you, it hurts. Despite the uncertainty of what come s next, I am confident about one thing- I love my Student Center family. Today the full-time staff scrambled to make a DIY graduation for the seniors as there's no guarantee of a real one. They've done such an incredible job establishing a productive, warm, and welcoming work environment, and have been true to that until the very end. My coworkers hold such a special place in my heart and make so many of my bad days better. I love you all forever."

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We want to showcase your work in union or activities in action! Email Emily Kofman at for the opportunity to takeover our Instagram account for a day or two. This is a great way to highlight unique staffing practices, fun events, or building improvements. We're open to whatever! Last year featured a Graduate Toast at Rutgers-Camden, new furniture delivery at Thomas Jefferson University East Falls Campus, and a push for Educational Session proposals submissions with the Conference Planning Team!

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