Surrounded by a sea of groceries, OUSA President Melissa Lama shared how hours of work have been poured into ensuring no student is left behind.
The start to University life is often a memorable experience, usually for the people you meet and the events you attend. The kick-off this year was just as memorable but in a different way to what many anticipated it would be.
While the streets are usually full of students in togas, this year the student quarters were silent as entire flats self-isolated and students adapted their lives to fit in with Red Level restrictions. The team at OUSA not only managed to provide some O-Week joy for students who were able to be out and about, but also provide for students who had to stay home.
Isolating presents many challenges for students without family support in Dunedin and being sick with COVID-19 is a daunting experience. Surrounded by a sea of groceries, OUSA President Melissa Lama shared how hours of work have been poured into ensuring no student is left behind.
“We’ve spent the past week sending out welfare packages to any student who is self-isolating or has tested positive for COVID-19. Our drivers deliver them directly to their flats. We are here and ready to look after them and making sure they’re not alone through this experience. For many students here in Dunedin without family, we know that it can be hard to find support in a unique time like this.”
With funding from the University and support from the OUSA Exec team, wider OUSA team and University staff, many hours have been put into keeping students fed and well while at home.
“Our parcels have been filled with staples such as cans of fruit, diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, baked beans, pasta, rice and sanitary items. There’s a good variety of items in there in an attempt to cover the basics of what’s needed.
“We’ve had a really good response and in our first week delivered more than 3000 packages. Time has been one of our biggest challenges and there is a number of complexities to consider with a situation such as this.
“Another critical area we have evaluated each step of the way is how we triage priorities. We have involved some key staff who work in student service centres to develop a system recognising vulnerable situations and students who may require extra assistance.”
As of the first week of March, the team had managed to catch up on their requests from February and were remaining positive while getting stuck into the next lot of requests. Welfare packages are available to any student who is required to self-isolate or has tested positive for COVID-19. Requests for assistance can be made on the HUB website.
Kōrero by Internal Communications Adviser, Chelsea McRae