Community colleges stand out from their competitors by serving the community, whether or not “community” is part of the college’s name. In this Quick Tips! video, Dr. Pamela Cox-Otto, CEO of Interact, offers advice on addressing issues related to COVID-19, and suggests actions you may take to serve your communities better during this time. Your resources, facilities, and people may be a powerful source to provide critical assistance that will help your community to weather this storm.
Hi, homies. And I do mean homies, since we’re all probably
at home. Undoubtedly you are in the middle of the worst kind of PR crisis you
ever thought you would have in your life. And two things: One, if I can help
you, reach out. You know my email, and if not, you know interactcom.com. Come
up and send an email to us, and we will do our best. Also, we’ve developed a
place to place questions on discourse.interactcom.com. Come up, enter your
question, and I’m literally up there every day answering questions from anyone
that asks. So feel free to reach out.
So, this is the moment where being a community college
makes you truly different than universities or anyone else. Why? For the very
simple fact that the community is what you care about. And your community, if
not now, will soon be in trouble because we have the COVID-19 virus which is
moving among us, and people are going to get sick. And unless we change some
things, there’s going to be a trajectory where the hospitals are overburdened.
So here are some things I’d like you to think about. Not
about PR, but things that you could be doing to get ready, because your college
has resources and is probably going to need to deploy them in the use of your
So, first, when your hospitals overflow, realize that you
have many, many resources. Many of you have beds, many of you have labs, many
of you have ventilators. Many of you have facilities that really could be used.
At the very least, you can open up part of your facilities for use by medical
personnel, perhaps for testing or other things. And at the most, you can loan
them equipment. If you’re sitting around with face masks and goggles and all
sorts of things that are used in your labs, perfect time for you to make those
available to medical workers to keep them safe.
Also, you’re a natural overflow hospital. What can you
offer? How can you offer it? Those are things that you and your faculty should
be thinking of right now, because when the need arises, it would be better to
be prepared for it than not.
Finally, there could be hunger among the working poor.
There’s a lot of people who can’t buy two weeks’ worth of food. And where are
they going to get their food? And the answer is, well, at this moment they
don’t know. And so you have cafeteria facilities, you can open a cafeteria, you
can offer food. And if that’s not some risk that your college is willing to
take on, you can also send that food to places that do have cafeterias and will
be offering that service. It’s something that you can do that most people
simply don’t have access to.
Finally, undoubtedly you’ve heard of the shortage of face
masks. I’ve been working this week, sewing face masks. Yes, I know how to sew.
I know, it’s scary, isn’t it? So if you can, if your college has a program
where you do sewing, those machines can be loaned out to those who know how to
sew. You also undoubtedly have 3D printers if you have any kind of
manufacturing program. There are some great patterns out there to print 3D face
masks, and they’re very safe and they’re very good. So those are things that
you might want to take advantage of right now.
Finally, you know, something to always be thinking about:
A lot of people are getting their news from sources that are not necessarily
reliable. What you can do is, do a day’s news summary from quoted sources where
people are getting their information from medical specialists. We’d all like to
just listen to the kind of good news, “It’s wonderful. We found a
cure.” We haven’t. We don’t even have a virus vaccine yet. So people who
listen to that might start to take risks that they shouldn’t take. And you can
be a source of consolidating information for those people who don’t have that.
This is the moment where having the “community” in your
name, whether it’s still there or not formally, you serve your community. Your
community, if they don’t need you now, they soon will. So think about all of
the resources that the college has, not just for students, but to help the
community get through this. If you plan that now, you’ll be able to offer them
so much more safely, and they’ll remember it. This is the moment where being a
community college really counts.
And finally, one thing: Thank you for everything you’re
doing. This is a scary time, but we’ll get through this because there are lots
of good people out there cranking, and you’re one of them. Take care. Reach out
if we can help at all.