Take Extra Precautions If You May Have Been Exposed

If you attended gatherings or found yourself in a high-risk setting over the weekend, please follow enhanced social distancing protocols and get a COVID test Thursday or Friday of this week. If you had plans to go home at the end of Block 3 and attended gatherings that may have resulted in exposure, you should reconsider in order to avoid exposing others. Remember, the  Colorado governor and state health officials ask that you do not travel. Students are advised to cancel any block break travel plans, unless they are going home and staying home until January (however, if you were potentially exposed at gatherings over the weekend, even travel home should be canceled).

Students Connect, Prepare for Election 2020

By Sarah Senese ’23

In the days ahead of the presidential election, CC students came together as one way to prepare themselves to stay well, and engaged, during election season. Students who participated in and moderated an event called “MapQuest Voting Prep” hosted by CC Middle Ground, share their insights on what the CC community is doing to participate, prepare, and engage in the election this week. Middle Ground is a student group that hosts workshops and trainings on navigating difficult discussions.

CC Middle Ground and the students involved created the virtual event to help students navigate this week mentally — they wanted to give the college-aged voters of CC an opportunity to brainstorm comprehensive coping strategies and feel a bit more in control of a situation that at times, may feel incredibly overwhelming. During the Zoom event, they talked through crafting a personalized plan for how participants would spend Election Day, mapping out a decision tree based on, the election outcome.

Alanna Jackson ’23 believes it’s important for CC student voters to have a plan in place during the election process because it allows anxious new voters who may feel like the process is completely out of their control some peace of mind.

Deksyos Damtew ’22 adds that “knowing who you want to call when election results go your way or who to call if they don’t is a great way to make sure we’re all connected in this virtual world.” Damtew and other students find that making a plan can be not only helpful for taking care of your mental health but allows each person to think critically about a support system for future stressors that may be out of your control.  

The students who participated in this event are also deeply committed to promoting election participation at CC, because they believe this particular election “holds the power to shape lives for years to come,” says Jackson. Adding that getting involved in the election, in whatever capacity that may be, is important for the preservation of democracy and the creation of change, which can happen even at the level of a local Colorado Springs college-aged voter. 

When asked why they participate in events like “MapQuest Voting Prep,” phone banking, and overall voter advocacy in the CC and Colorado Springs communities, the students all had personal reasons for encouraging participation. For Damtew, “as an Ethiopian American, I had to go through the process of a becoming a citizen. Through that process, I learned that participation in democracy was by no means a guarantee. To me, voting in this election was a form of resistance.” For Elena Martinez-Vivot ’21 (pictured, center), a Colorado Springs native and current chair of CC Votes, she’s “always had an intense desire to bridge the gap between the college and the city and found politics to be a meaningful way of achieving this goal.” The common sentiment for most CC voters is that this election isn’t just about them, but the entire community. It involves both the greater CC community, but also the community that Colorado College has the privilege of functioning within

Celebrating our CC Community: The ITS Dynamic Duo!

The ITS division has two dynamic colleagues who contribute to the efficiency and success of the work done by the whole division. Linda Petro, who has been at the college for 23 years, is the IT project manager — developing and implementing IT projects for CC.  She collaborates with campus colleagues and stakeholders to see a project through from start to finish: clarifying needs, managing resources, building vendor relationships, and communicating with stakeholders and project participants are all part of that process. While much of the work continues in the background, Petro also is wearing the random testing cape helping the college with its weekly random testing efforts. “Linda has been amazing with our random testing efforts.  She has organized our weekly lists, reached out to all students as part of the random testing; she answers tons of questions and tracks the testing efforts each week.  We have been able to expand testing efforts thanks to Linda and team helping operationalize this strategy,” says Brian Young, vice president  for ITS and chief technology officer, who serves as the  lead over the college’s COVID-19 prevention efforts.

Lucie Tennis, the other half of the duo, has been overseeing the college’s COVID procurement efforts, especially around PPE. “Lucie has been a great leader in our COVID-19 efforts.  She has led the way with COVID procurement, and continues to secure the needed materials and items our campus needs to mitigate COVID-19 spread.  Lucie also has been the key to making sure supplies get from point A to point B as fast as we can.  When supplies seem hard to find, Lucie finds a way to acquire them and get them to campus,” says Young.  Lucie was the right choice to take on that work, as her pre-COVID-19 job entailed focusing on the smooth and efficient operations of the division. That included budget management, assistance with contract renewals, process review and change, forecasting, processing payments and PO requests, and educating the division on divisional budgetary processes. Tennis has been with CC since 2017.

With these superheroes at work, the college’s COVID efforts can continue to be successful and we can keep the virus at bay. Submit your ideas to celebrate or help our CC community to Lyrae Williams to be highlighted in a future week.

Luci Tennis, IT Operations Manager
Linda Petro, IT Project Manager

Student Leaders Modify Trips to Stay Connected to the Outdoors

By Sarah Senese ’23

Although many aspects of campus life seem different this year, Outdoor Education continues to run programs and trips for the CC community. Over the past few blocks, students continue to get outside, get active, and appreciate our distinctive place in Colorado, albeit a little modified. Students must wear masks and eat individually wrapped meals, and the maximum number of participants for each trip is 10 people. Regardless, those who participate in Outdoor Education’s trips this semester will find that much about the experiences has stayed the same. 

Magdalena Sotelo ’21 has led a couple trips since the year started and noted that COVID changes have only affected food and sleeping logistics, and that the experience of teaching peers new outdoor skills has the same impact. “Even though as larger groups we maintained distance, I think the trips still allow us to make new connections and experience outdoor activities with those on campus,” she says. 

Brigitte Arcoite ’24, who has attended trips as opposed to leading them, had similar sentiments. They went on the first organized block break trip to Cheyenne Mountain State Park, where they met new people, hiked, and had an “amazingly normal experience despite the implications of COVID.” For Arcoite, the experience was just as comforting as being in the outdoors without COVID. 

Whether it be a day mountain biking trip, overnight block break camping, or a hike to Cheyenne Mountain Park, Outdoor Education continues to prioritize getting students excited about the outdoors in a hands-on way, despite COVID-19. You can sign up for Outdoor Ed trips on Summit, or by joining the Outdoor Ed email list.  

Students, Professors Dive into Creative Problem-Solving in the Time of COVID-19

By Sarah Senese ’23

This semester, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s made life and learning a little more complicated, professors Andrea Bruder, Emily Chan, and Rachel Paupeck, and South Hall Residential Life Coordinator Mollie Hayden are working together to create a COVID-resilient CC community. Together, they’re co-teaching GS222: Creative Problem-Solving in the time of COVID-19, which is an extended-format, semester-long class whose goal is to help the CC community better understand the ways in which pandemics affect public health, justice, and even the human body. 

This course integrates academic study and community-engaged learning experiences, encouraging students to identify and choose their own way to respond to issues the CC community is facing as a result of the pandemic. Students will all work together to identify and respond to projects of their choosing, with the potential to receive a Student Seed Innovation Grant from Creativity & Innovation up to $8,000. Whether those projects be designing PPE and mask shields, creating an interpretive dance on the subject of isolation and quarantine, or simply thinking deeply on the implications of a world-slowing virus, the course promotes interdisciplinary thinking. The goal is to encourage critical, liberal arts engaged learning and thinking, combining 13 departments and programs across CC’s disciplines, along with 26 faculty and staff members.   

The co-educators of the course (Bruder, Chan, Paupeck, and Hayden) understand the gravity of COVID-19 on every aspect of the CC community, including the academic experience, social interaction, recreation, housing and residential experience, and on-campus work environments. They notes, “the complex challenges presented by the public health emergency, isolation, and entanglement of politics and science necessitate multi-disciplinary collaboration among students, faculty, staff, and all other members of our community.” For them, the liberal arts approach and principles of design thinking have never been more relevant to provide a path towards a COVID-resilient community. 

GS222 will be taught on and off campus for students in any time zone. The course meets once a week throughout the semester and is committed to helping CC students strengthen the community throughout the fall. 

Tutt Library Team Supports Campus Community and One Another

“We work hard to protect both staff and students in the library,” says Jenn Sides, Tutt Library operations manager and co-chair of the Tutt Library Safety and Health Committee. That’s true every year, but of course the campus and Tutt Library have new challenges and many changes to services and policies during the pandemic. Rather than have all the building safety concerns fall to Sides, Interim Library Director Steve Lawson convened a committee in the summer as the library was making plans to re-open and increase access. “No one really wants to be on yet another committee,” Lawson says, “but we knew that our response to COVID-19 would affect all the people who work in and use the building, so I wanted to be sure we were hearing from a larger group. I also wanted staff to feel like they could go to a committee and not only their supervisor if they had safety concerns.” 

Sides and Patti Spoelman, library administrative assistant, co-chair the committee, which also includes Lawson, LeDreka Davis, circulation operations coordinator, Tia Phillip, night circulation coordinator, Pam Willock, periodicals coordinator, Charissa Brammer, systems librarian, Janet Martino, ITS: user support specialist and Solutions Center team lead, and Daryll Stevens, music librarian at Seay Library. 

The committee members have been very busy with making changes to the physical building to promote social distancing, technological changes to allow seat reservation and computer reservation, and recently spoke with CC’s Community Standards and Conduct Specialist Josh Isringhausen about how best to encourage student compliance with college safety policies on COIVD-19. As Sides says, “we are trying to make sure that students, faculty, and staff still have access to the items they need and a safe, but welcoming environment to study.” Submit your suggestions of members of our CC community to Lyrae Williams to be highlighted in a future week.

CC Welcomes First Bronfman Creativity & Innovation Scholar-in-Residence

By Sarah Senese ’23

Creativity & Innovation at Colorado College welcomes Felicia Rose Chavez as their first Bronfman Creativity & Innovation Scholar-in-Residence. Chavez, award-winning educator with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction, is the author of “The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom,” and co-editor of “The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT,” as well as having taught courses at CC in English and Film and Media Studies from 2012-2018. 

This three-year residency will allow Creativity & Innovation to become more integrated in the everyday lives of CC students, helping them connect with the program directly and also through specific C&I classes. Chavez herself will teach selected creativity-related blocks, including some revived from her past time teaching at CC. Some courses include: Podcasting; The Inspiration Lab; Audio Essay; and Creative Nonfiction Writing. An award-winning teacher, Chavez possesses a special gift for helping students to connect with each other, with the community, and to their own internal creative capacities.

Dez Stone Menendez, director of Creativity & Innovation, adds that “Felicia embodies the program’s goals to nurture students’ creative capacities and to support the college’s ongoing antiracist work. In this new role, Felicia’s work has the potential to benefit our entire CC community.” Chavez will work in collaboration with CC faculty members from all disciplines to develop and implement the curricular programs that will help build students’ creative capacities. There will be the potential for faculty workshops focusing on anti-racist pedagogy and the practice of creativity, and to engage audiences beyond the Colorado College community to invite for even more collaboration. 

Chavez will also continue developing and sharing scholarly research, including the work accomplished in her book “The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom.” She will implement her own work in the classroom, supporting and platforming students of color, which Chavez describes as, “allowing a platform for them to exercise voice as well as correcting our canon, platforming the voices of writers of color.” For Chavez, “it’s more urgent than ever that we consciously work against traditions of dominance in the classroom.”

Felicia Chavez will be teaching classes and workshops this coming school year. Menendez, Chavez, and the whole Creativity & Innovation team would like to thank Kelly and Sam Bronfman for their support of the residency as well as their ongoing support of the entire program.

How Does Contact Tracing Work?

Contact tracing is vital to preventing the spread of COVID-19 within communities. It allows people who have been exposed to someone who was symptomatic or tested positive for COVID-19 to be quickly identified, notified of exposure, and quarantined to prevent further spread of the virus. Contact tracing is confidential, and information gathered in the process is not shared or connected to the student-conduct process. Contact tracers try to quickly build a positive, trusting relationship with the person who tested positive or who is symptomatic for COVID-19 and their associated contacts (the people who have been exposed). You should feel comfortable sharing the names of people who you have had exposure to and identifying locations where these exposures have occurred, in a timely and efficient manner. Not only do contact tracers have to quickly build positive rapport, the tracer must also be knowledgeable about the virus and associated protocols, and communicate in a concise, clear manner, while remaining empathetic and supportive to the unique needs of each person interviewed. The contact tracer must adhere to all legal guidelines associated with HIPPA (medical privacy) requirements, while maintaining confidentiality about specific details of an interview that might reveal the identity of any of the individuals involved. Once an individual has been identified as someone who will need to isolate or quarantine, the contact tracer will have daily interactions with the individual throughout their isolation/quarantine timeframe, to ensure that academic, mental health, spiritual, and other support services are provided, by the appropriate resources, in a timely manner. Have additional questions about contact tracing or want to be trained as a CC contact tracer? Contact Connie Brachtenbach: cbrachtenbach@coloradocollege.edu.

Celebrating Our Community: Faculty Volunteers

For months, CC faculty members have shown their commitment to our students and their educational experience. Exceptional teaching has continued even as classes shifted between in-person, flex, hybrid, and distanced. As remarkable as all of CC’s faculty have been in the classroom, 30 faculty have also volunteered in other ways to support the CC community. From building face shields to serving as contact tracers to delivering food and mail to students in quarantine, our faculty continue to demonstrate their commitment to the college and the well-being of our community. They have also been serving on critical committees such as the Scientific Advisory Group, COVID Advisory Leadership Team, and the Faculty Advisory Committee to the co-presidents and provost.  We are all in this together, and our faculty are showing us the way. Thank you faculty!

Faculty member Oguzhan Batmaz volunteers to deliver items to students.

In no particular order, here are the names of faculty known to have volunteered – Ryan Bañagale, Sofia Fenner, Rachel Paupeck, Emma Powell, Andrea Bruder, Emily Chan, Lori DrisOguzhan Batmazcoll, Kate Leonard, Pedro de Araujo, Shawn Womack, Jane Murphy, Iddo Aharony, Amanda Minervini, Esther Redmount, Oguzhan Batmaz, Alexei Pavlenko, John Gould, Richard Buxton, Jamal Ratchford, Gypsy Ames, Christina Rader, David Brown, Olivia Hatton, Vanessa Muñoz, Miro Kummel, William Davis, Kathy Giuffre, Neena Grover, Heidi Lewis, and Karen Roybal. If your name was left off, please forgive us and share your story with Lyrae Williams.  Each week, we will share stories of how our community is coming together during this time. Submit ideas to Lyrae Williams to be highlighted in a future week.

Faculty members John Gould and Shawn Womack volunteering.

Getting to Know Edwin Hamada: Assistant Vice President for the Residential Experience

By Shannon Zander

Note: The majority of this interview conducted in early July 2020 with the exception of the two questions on COVID-19 which were added in early September.

 Welcome to Edwin Hamada, who joined Colorado College as our new assistant vice president for the Residential Experience as of September 1. For the month of September, Hamada will be working alongside John Lauer, associate vice president for Student Life, until Lauer’s retirement on October 1. This interview provides a chance to learn about Hamada — from how he sees COVID shaping the residential experience to why he’d choose spaghetti squash if he could only eat one food for the rest of his life.

What is the main way your position will impact students at Colorado College?
As we all know, the majority of students live on campus or in college-owned property.  The on-campus residential experience is a key component of the life of a Colorado College student.  The teams in Campus Safety/Emergency Management, Residential Experience (formerly Residential Life), Housing Operations, Conferences, and Student Life Maintenance and Project Management are a solid group as I discovered during the interview process.  My job is to support the team in continuing their good work and see where I can contribute.  I have a lot of experience and have a few ideas formulated but learning the culture at CC and then building collaborative relationships will my initial focus.

What is your professional and educational background before CC?

  • I have worked in housing at the following schools: University of San Francisco, University of California – Los Angeles, Western Illinois University, San Jose State University, University of California-Irvine, University of Washington, and Washington State University.
  • I received my BA in Psychology at USF, my MS in College Student Personnel at WIU (taking classes from Nancy Evans and Dea Forney for Student Development theory fans), and my PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Washington.

Why do you think you are a good fit for the job?
This might sound silly but there was a scene in an older movie called “Crazy, Stupid, Love” (starring Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling) where the main character is getting a style makeover and discovers he is buying shirts that are too big for him.  When I think of my start at a small liberal arts school and how I love getting to know students and faculty/staff, my professional journey at larger public schools made it more difficult to get to know people.  CC’s culture of student engagement and collaboration fits my leadership style and feels like a good fit!

What influenced you to get into this field and profession?
As with many seasoned student affairs professionals, you sort of fall into the profession.  As a resident assistant and assistant hall director at USF, I loved working with students and was told I could get my master’s degree while continuing to work in the halls.  That was the start of a magical journey! While there have been challenges along the way, I have benefited from the support of many and look for opportunities to do the same for others as that is what makes being a student affairs professional worth the time and effort – investing in others.

What challenges does COVID pose to the usual” residential experience?
The concept of how we develop community and interact and get to know each other requires a major paradigm shift.  For first-year students, how they envisioned life at CC when they submitted their admission application changed significantly during their senior year.  Likewise, returning students need to alter their habits from prior years. The residential experience at CC is a multiyear commitment so we need to think about community development as an ongoing process that occurs over the arch of the student’s tenure. Students will find ways to safely interact, form strong bonds with their peers, and adapt their behavior when needed. We are all committed to providing a meaningful residential experience and have planned for months how to safely deliver that experience.

What can be done to mitigate these challenges?
An open mind and thinking creatively are characteristics of CC students.  Following the enhanced social distancing protocols adds a little challenge to community development and getting to know your peers but does not prevent it.  You just need to rethink your strategy.

I have led numerous team-building activities where a set of rules are outlined and a bag of random items are placed in front of the group, which is told it must be incorporated in the end product.  Maybe it is a “design your ideal residence hall” or “come up with a skit that highlights your floor community using these random items.”  Each group is able to successfully reach the goal and their end product varies, despite being given the same items and guidelines.  COVID and the enhanced social distancing guidelines necessitates a different way of thinking about achieving the goal of community and getting to know your peers. And it will look different for each person but is achievable as we are all committed to this goal.

What do you like about CC so far?
The people are what makes any situation special.  The students, faculty, and staff I have met during the interview did an excellent job of articulating how special Colorado College is for everyone. It was easy to see myself as part of the CC community. While I have yet to physically visit the campus and community, the virtual tour and pictures reinforce the natural beauty everyone was talking about during the interview.  I am excited to move to a location with so many wonderful places to explore the outdoors.

What would we most likely find you doing on the weekend?

  • Walking the dogs with my wife. We have a 14-year-old Chihuahua and a 10-year-old Husky/Lab mix.
  • Working on cars…I’m a gearhead and have two older sports cars that require a lot of maintenance.

What’s an accomplishment you’re particularly proud of?
I have worked with some excellent teams in my career.  Being the competitive person I am, my goal is to be the best supervisor or leader and set the bar high for any supervisors my team will have in the future or experienced in the past.  It always makes me proud when individuals on my teams tell me I was their best supervisor or leader.

What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
Individualization and Context are my top two StrengthFinder themes. I find the unique qualities in each person and want to know their background (for context).  This makes me a good listener.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
As a kid, I must have been grumping at my mom about a task she asked me to do.  She essentially told me, “You can do it with a smile on your face or with an unhappy face but you will have to do it, so you might as well be happy.” That is probably the reason I am an optimist even under the direst of circumstances.

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
Speaking all the languages of the world…but I’d settle for expert welder.

What book are you reading now? “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah.

Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?
I find myself making up songs and singing it to my dogs.  I’d like to think of myself as the Snoop Dogg to dogs.

What is one interesting fact that people might not know about you?
I’m an ordained minister of the Tenrikyo religion and have performed four wedding ceremonies.

If you could only eat one item for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Rice would be the easy answer but I’d have to go with spaghetti squash.  It is definitely the most underappreciated squash and so versatile. Although, I am not sure I’d want it for breakfast.