A new initiative at McPherson College is creating normalcy, both academically and socially, for students who may otherwise be feeling isolated this year. The initiative called QuaranTeams encourages students to form small groups and provides funding for their activities.
Gifts from alumni and friends of the college support the program, which is coordinated through the Office of Student Life. Launched at the start of the spring semester, 20 teams of two to five students are participating in the program. Each week the teams can request funds to pay for an activity for their small group.
“It’s a social-safety initiative to decrease the spread of COVID-19 on our campus,” Gabrielle Williams, director of student life, said. “Our expectations were simply to provide students an opportunity to hang out and support their mental wellness. It’s become a very organic way for students to shape their own experiences while still keeping in touch with our office.”
Students agree to a social contract that outlines behavior within their team, such as how they greet each other or if they hang out with other groups. The teams also agree to host at least two study halls, complete 10 hours of community service, and attend at least one Student Life organized campus event.
“I think we are very privileged to have alumni donate funds for a program dedicated to the student experience,” Williams said. “The community service aspect of the program is our way of helping our students give back in appreciation of the investment that was made in them.”
Teams have used funds to order take-out, buy supplies for watch parties and game nights, and a variety of other small group activities.
“Not all of the people on the teams were friends before this,” Williams said. “It’s been a really good way for students to stay connected and make new friendships, which has been hard this year especially for our freshmen.”