From the Executive Director
Creativity, collaboration, and community building were at the forefront of the University Student Union (USU) in 2021–2022 as Matadors sojourned to campus amid the emergence of a new college experience.
Following 16 months of online courses and work-from-home mandates, students, staff and faculty once again were in the plaza with backpacks, bikes and a curiosity about how much might have changed since the pandemic called for a swift closure in March 2020.
Creative collaborations launched the fall semester with safety protocols that provided masks, and hand sanitizers to students, and put safer distancing markers on floors and walkways. Computer workstations, keyboards, and equipment were sanitized after each use, while powerful air filters were added to air conditioning ducts, and all-virtual programming shifted to a hybrid model.
We were forced to prioritize and reprioritize, create and re-create, and work and re-work plans. Yet, we never wavered from the USU commitment to students. As the heart of campus at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), we harnessed the best of our student-majority Board of Directors and staffs to continue providing leadership development, meaningful employment, and innovative programs, services and facilities. We asked Matadors what they needed most and we listened. By outreaching to campus and community partners, we then found solutions that enhanced CSUN’s communities.
We learned about the pandemic’s devastating impact on families that lost jobs during the shutdown, and shattered many caregivers’ ability to support students. When the Board of Directors heard students’ call for help with fulfilling the basic needs of food, shelter, books and supplies, it rallied to approve scholarships and distribute care packages to first-time freshmen and transfer students. Collaborations with University Counseling Services, the CSUN Food Pantry, CSUN Temporary Emergency Housing/Rapid-Rehousing, and the USU’s HEAL Project among other partnerships addressed other gaps to keep Matadors focused on their graduation goals.
Author Gary Burnison coined the term, “ambigility” as the act of responding and not reacting in times of ambiguity. As Burnison says, “When ambiguity abounds — agility is our response.” In effect, that is what we did. We changed, we transformed, and we developed new skills, mindsets, and new ways of being and collaborating to help Matadors succeed.