The uKindness Initiative: Building connection within a time of disconnection

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uKindness is a recent initiative created by the UConn Division of Student Affairs. Photo by Spencer Bennett/The Daily Campus.

Most people are aware that going to college during a pandemic is an incredibly stressful time for a multitude of reasons. The constant fear of being infected, online classes that make it difficult to retain information and the removal of in-person social settings probably make up the top three of that list. So what is UConn doing to alleviate the burdens of a COVID-stricken community? 

uKindness is a recent initiative created by the UConn Division of Student Affairs to provide a resource for students, as it states on their website: “… a University-wide initiative intended to inform, engage and connect with students throughout the University during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Their homepage features an abundance of tabs offering various opportunities, events, activities and even quarantine tips. The “Staying Calm” page is particularly helpful in listing resources and ways to manage stress and anxiety, which is perfect for those who are still adapting to the online semester. 

Student Community Connection Ambassadors is another important aspect of uKindness. The group is essentially made up of UConn students available to answer any questions through its online chat function. This is perhaps the most intriguing feature of the website, considering how easily accessible it is. If you have any questions about ways to get involved on campus or are simply looking to chat with someone, all it takes is one click on the chat bubble to get in touch with a fellow student. 

The ambassadors themselves were very open to speak about the initiative.  

“It has definitely been a rough transition, but I am hoping uKindness will help alleviate some of the stress of [a] mostly virtual semester,” Jaelie Jackson, a fifth-semester English major, said. “It has been such a pleasure being able to help people and just be a friend to other UConn students.” 

Gabriela Fonseca, a third-semester animal science major, commented on the program’s efforts to reach out to struggling students. 

“We understand them perfectly! Most of us on this team are students too so we understand the struggle and would love to help,” Fonseca said. “Even if it is just by listening when they need someone to talk to.”  

Common inquiries include information regarding upcoming events, safe activities and study resources. However, all questions are welcome. 

COVID-19 has certainly brought harm to many aspects of the college lifestyle, causing students to feel disconnected from each other. In turn, uKindness is intended to rebuild connection within these communities. When asked about why she became an ambassador, Jackson was happy to answer.  

“I had such a rough transition coming from a small private high school to UConn…so I understood the struggles that already come with going to college, so I knew it would be even harder during a pandemic,” Jackson said. “I really wanted to become an ambassador because I know from experience that once you find the right resources and people who are willing to help you, being in college becomes a lot easier and enjoyable. There are always going to be tough times, but it’s nice knowing someone is there to help you.” 

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