Student leaders train amid ongoing pandemic

Scott Zanella, Staff Writer

It has been more than a month since Gannon University’s resident assistants, transition guides and other student leadership arrived on campus for a training session like no other.
Preparing for the fall semester and the arrival of first years and upperclassmen alike, student leaders had to follow new social distancing rules while participating in a collaborative training process.
“Training was different this year,” said Alicia Fenton, a junior resident assistant. “We couldn’t mix between our staffs, we had to wear masks and be distanced, and some of our staff was even quarantined.”
The differences were striking. Any seminar the students attended spread out over huge tables that kept everyone adequately separated. Some of the larger training events were virtual as a means to further protect against the spread of COVID.
This separation was not all bad, however. Students were encouraged to stay within small groups of their peers, called pods. These smaller groups formed based on similarity in job and position of the students.
“While it was disappointing to not really mingle with one another, it was really special to form a tighter bond with my own staff throughout the positive and negative experiences alike,” Fenton said.
COVID also did not stop the students from learning as much as they could and getting excited about the school year.
The enthusiasm was still high when leaders arrived on campus, ready to learn and put their best (masked) face forward for new and returning students.
“Overall, I had a great experience and loved being back in person to prepare for the upcoming school year,” Emily Schneggenberger, a sophomore resident assistant, said. “I definitely learned a lot about being a leader and am more than excited to welcome the students to back onto our campus.”
One of the primary jobs of these student leaders is to foster a sense of community and togetherness for Gannon’s student population. Understandably, this is something that was a big concern amidst the pandemic and the new rules that come with it.
Keeping people six feet apart and consistently maintaining maximum capacities in public spaces are definitely things that work against camaraderie.
For this reason, a large portion of the training focused on getting people to be social while they are socially distant. Whether that be through introductory activities, certain programs or online events, many ideas are in place to keep students present and involved.
“Our training prepared us very well for how everyone can stay safe and healthy throughout their time at Gannon this year,” said Bridget Marks, transition guide.
“It was really great getting to see the first-year students once they arrived and still being able to help them to get to know our campus despite everything going on with the pandemic.”


[email protected]