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Celebrating the Good

ASWU President Parker Daniels aims to brighten students' year 

Random acts of kindness? Space-themed video games? Trivia nights? How does a student body president help create community during a pandemic that requires people to keep their distance?

This is exactly what Parker Daniels '21 and his Associated Students of Whitworth University (ASWU) leadership team have been working to figure out this year. ASWU is dedicated to serving the social, spiritual, educational and recreational needs of students. But this year, it's looking at each of those needs through the lens of safety.

"The biggest value ASWU has been focused on this year is student safety, which we reflected in our mission statement," Daniels says. "For every decision ASWU has voted on, we have looked to make sure it would be safe for all."

Here Daniels reflects on how the first semester spent on campus during the pandemic has gone, along with how ASWU is working to keep students engaged.

How do you think students have felt about the semester so far?

I think it is all about perspective. As a senior, I was looking forward to doing many things one last time. I was looking forward to attending all my classes and just celebrating with my friends. Many seniors share similar feelings. However, I think the semester has gone extremely well. The amount of COVID-19 cases at Whitworth has been very low, which shows how dedicated the community is to protecting one another and having in-person education. Many students have shown appreciation for the option to attend many of our classes in person. We may be missing out on some opportunities, but we must be thankful for all the good God has done for us. I think the overall mood is tired but determined. It has been a hard semester for sure, but Whitworth students are incredible individuals who are willing to put in the work and persevere.

What has been the biggest challenge for students this year? How has ASWU helped to address this?

I think not being able to interact as we used to has been the hardest part. Whitworth is known for its community, and it has been hard to create community while being physically distanced. However, ASWU has been working hard to address this situation. We have offered events that follow safety protocols but still help students to feel involved within the community. Such events have been a Bingo Night where we gave away $2,500 in prizes, and a Whitworth Trivia Night that was also a hit. Our coordinators have done very well in their programming, and they have more events coming soon that I think students will enjoy! Our senators and representatives have also done a fantastic job of engaging with their community. They are being intentional about meeting students where they are and encouraging community building. It will be a hard push to the end of the semester, but ASWU will be listening to students' needs and continue to do our best to serve them.

What are some ways that students are getting creative to conduct activities safely?

One of the biggest things has been turning to video games. A popular game over the semester has been Among Us, which is like Cut-Throat Mafia but online. People have been able to play this while on a Zoom call. The University Recreation Center has also held esports tournaments, which have been a blast. I have also seen students decorate windows to brighten up halls for people as they pass by.

What messages do you wish to share with students during this time? 

Despite this being an unusual year, one message I really want to get across is to spread agape love (unconditional love that reflects the love of God). We could all use something that can brighten our day, especially nowadays. Little acts of kindness such as holding the door open or a wave while walking down the Hello Walk can make a huge difference in someone's day. One way I have tried to spread agape love is through my Random Acts of Kindness Initiative. For my first act, I made clothespins with encouraging statements on them and gave them to them to students stealthily (or at least I tried to). ASWU also helped me pass these along. The next act is coming soon involving an inflatable suit.

Another message I want to try and get across to my fellow students is to celebrate the good and the growth. We often get caught up in the negative moments, letting them linger in minds. I do this far too often. I urge us all to look for the little moments of light in the darkness and celebrate. Laugh with your friends, be proud of the hard work you put in, and keep on grinding. All the little moments of joy will be what you hold on to in the future, so make as many as you can now.

 

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