The winter months on college campuses are known to initiate a flux in weather-appropriate fashion and seasonal caffeinated beverages. However, they also bring a diverse range of implications related to the overall engagement and well-being of students, staff, and faculty. As a Students Affairs Professional, the ominous “Winter is Coming” motto likely resonates all too well with you, as you feel its effects on yourself as well as the campus community you support. 1) Take Advantage of It. Embrace the cold weather by planning winter-themed events and outdoor activities. Conversely, never underestimate the power of free hot beverages to draw students from their cross-campus trek to check out information booths and displays. 2) Prioritize Health. Launch health campaigns that focus on sickness prevention and self-care. Hone in on mental health promotion, as the winter months are known to see a spike in numerous mental illnesses. While a lack of sunlight and cold temperatures are inevitable, it is important that institutions support the health needs – mental and otherwise- of their campus community. 3) Give Back. The cold winter months bring about a deeper sense of gratitude and desire among many to help those less fortunate, whether through providing warm meals, warm clothes, or companionship. Consider implementing campus-wide initiatives and fundraising events that serve the surrounding community, nearby homeless shelters, nursing homes and hospitals. Cold weather, warm hearts. 4) Offer Incentives. A decline in attendance at campus spaces such as the gym and library during winter may be offset by offering perks such as free fitness classes, prize draws, and extended hours. Pretty much whatever you think will help get students out of the house and back on track with their goals. 5) Utilize Technology.Social media apps are removing barriers and restrictions to campus engagement
. Moreover, technology effectively keeps community members informed during winter’s less idyllic moments. Like hot chocolate on a cold morning, we all like our notifications instant. This includes everything from transportation and class cancellations to hazardous weather conditions. The hope is that these pointers will help you make the most of the remaining winter days. Of course, garnering feedback from the campus community on how to keep them engaged will prove particularly enlightening. There is arguably nothing quite as serene as a college campus blanketed in a layer of snow in the early morning hours. However, winter winds usher in a unique set of challenges to campus engagement, demanding the preparedness and adaptability that Student Affairs Professionals are known for.