Published: Sept. 24, 2020

JB BanksThis year has been a very unusual and trying time. For you as students, it has been filled with choices, hard pivots and significant change. You have worked through competing interests, shifting classroom expectations and resistance with your peers in terms of accountability. But, as a Buff family, we have remained resilient. We know what it’s like to overcome obstacles. And as we continue in this journey together, I have some advice to help you make it through times of change and uncertainty.

Think outside the box

It can be easy to spend our time focusing on what others are (or aren’t) doing, or how things are so different from how they used to be. But spending our time and energy this way does not always help our current situation. During uncertain times, I encourage you to think outside the box and try new approaches.

Working in a pandemic has changed how I’m able to connect with you all, and this has led me to be innovative and try some new things this semester. I’m trying out pop-up office hours across campus and working to be a “dean on the go” to meet students where they are, in a safe and socially distant way. I’m working to create room and space to be visible and let you know that I got you and I’m here for you. And personally, I’m using my free time to explore different interests that I maybe didn’t have time for before. Right now, I’m tapping into my creative side and learning how to be a DJ – DJ Shredder, Ain’t Nothin’ Better!

In your academic life and your personal life, I encourage you to think outside the box and try new things to overcome small challenges you’re experiencing. Maybe it’s a new study method or a new creative hobby – whatever it is, don’t be afraid to be innovative with your time and energy.

Live by your values

Values represent the things we believe and prioritize in our lives. Identifying and living by your personal values can help you stay resilient during tough times.

I live by my own set of values of C-PRIDE: Commitment, Pride, Resilience, Integrity, Discipline and Excellence. There are times when I simply don’t measure up, but I always wake up with a plan to walk firmly in my truth.

I encourage you to take some time to reflect on what’s important to you and confirm your values. This can help you be honest with your friends, roommates, family members and other relationships you might have. Knowing your values and staying true to yourself can also help you make good decisions, even when it’s hard.

Take care of yourselves and each other

Being a Buff means that we take care of each other and look out for each other. It means delayed gratification for the greater good of the community. Let’s listen to each other, lean on each other and know that we can trust that we are making the best decisions for all involved.   

In addition to taking care of others, it’s important to take care of yourself. Taking care of your physical health, your mental health and your emotional health are extremely important to your academic success. Whether you’re looking to get involved and meet fellow Buffs, stay active during quarantine or find mental health support, I encourage you to check out the many resources available to you in the Division of Student Affairs. And if you aren’t sure what you need, I’m here for you and can help connect you to the right resources.

As your dean of students, I stand with you in this journey and am proud to be a part of your Buff family. I know that together, shoulder to shoulder (with 6-feet of physical distancing), we can make this a successful semester.

JB Banks

Dean of Students and Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs