Saliva Testing a Challenge for MVNU Campus
February 14, 2021 Hannah Barco
Spring semester at MVNU has been slightly different this year due to the now enforced saliva testing on campus. With a one-per-week minimum, all staff and students must submit a saliva test in order to do the day-to-day campus things such as going to the caf, doing laundry, going to the gyms or being in class. Athletes, nursing students and any other high-risk-of-exposure students have to submit saliva samples twice a week.
Although most people have an apprehensive attitude towards saliva testing, JoLee Carrier, MVNU’s RN on campus, said, “The saliva screening has been very effective in identifying those individuals that need to follow up with a PCR test. If a saliva sample is flagged, the majority of the time the PCR (nasal swab) test will come back positive.”
Dr. Geoff Fuller runs the saliva testing here at MVNU. “Since our method is considered surveillance and not a medical diagnosis, our lab doesn’t need FDA approval. The procedure uses techniques that I’ve been using all my professional life,” said Fuller when asked about the qualifications needed to have the center on campus.
Talking about protocol, Fuller stated, “The protocol is pretty simple. We add enzymes to each sample to dissolve the outer “shell” of the virus. Then we use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) to amplify the virus’ genes enough that we can detect them with our instrument.” Without saliva testing, Fuller believes that MVNU would have been shut down for the semester. He added,
“At the beginning of spring term, we identified 24 people that were contagious but had no symptoms. Those people could have infected the entire campus very quickly and sent us all home.”
Vice President For Student Life Tracy Waal was asked about the current COVID testing on campus. “Do we believe they’re fun? No. Do we like them? No. Do we like putting on further restrictions when COVID spreads? Absolutely not! But I do think the baseline protocols implemented for the spring are reasonable and very consistent with what other colleges are doing,” said Waal. “We will always look for opportunities to reduce restrictions when possible. I think it is very promising for MVNU that we started the semester with a relatively low rate of infection. If that rate continues to hold, we could find ourselves in a place where protocols can be adjusted in a responsible way.”
According to Emily Wilson, junior here at MVNU, “Being at MVNU this semester has been extremely difficult for me. Being a social person and not having visitation in the apartments, little to note events, and only 100 students being allowed into sporting events makes for a very boring semester.”
Junior, Kaylee Myers, agrees with Wilson. “I understand that the protocols are in place to keep us all safe, but how is hanging out with people in the lobby different than hanging out in our apartments? How is it OK for 40 or so people in a gym to play basketball, be within 6 feet of each other and not have masks on? I just find it unfair,” said Myers.
February 1, 2021 Mike Basko
RDs and RAs: The unsung heroes of residence life
Taking care of students and managing dorm life is not an easy task, even without a global pandemic taking place. Resident Directors (RDs) and Resident Assistants (RAs) have many duties to keep residence life running smoothly for students living on campus. These duties have only increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has raged over the course of the past year. The virus has provided an extra challenge for the staff and has added another level of concern regarding student safety. RAs and RDs must make sure that the new virus protocols are implemented and adhered to by the students, while also following all of the protocols themselves in order to set a good example.
Josh Kusch, the director of residence life at MVNU, states that he believes the residence staff is top-notch. “On a professional level,” he went on, “I am so thankful for the RDs the Lord has brought us.” David Calvarese, the RD of Oakwood Hall, is in the middle of his first year here at MVNU. Knowing the challenges that the virus would provide, Calvarese says that he was not sure what to expect coming into the job. However, starting in such an unusual year made him appreciate the job more. He states that “the hardest part (of the job) is knowing how hard they (the new protocols) are on the students. I was also a student, and having (to enforce) them as part of my responsibilities hurts me in a way.” Calvarese knows the stress the students are also experiencing, determinedly saying “Nothing is going to stop me from breathing life into this position.”
On the other hand, Kusch also praised the RAs for their faithful work, and the fact that while the RAs are employees of the school, they are also full-time students. Calvarese also said of the RAs “Yeah it’s crazy how amazing and flexible they’ve been.” He is impressed by the way they’ve felt God’s call on their life and their ability to keep peers accountable. Zach Strouse, an RA in Oakwood Hall, says that it has been difficult to enforce the new protocols such as dispersing groups of students and making sure everyone is wearing their masks in order to protect their peers. He is always gracious toward offenders, preferring to issue a friendly reminder for students instead of being harsh regarding the non-compliance. Despite the unpleasant tasks of enforcing the protocols and sometimes having to write students up for refusing to comply, Strouse states “I still love my job, even with the challenge of Covid.”
The sacrifice and hard work of the MVNU Residence Life staff is evident in the community. They are doing their best to provide opportunities for residents to get to know each other in the midst of the pandemic.The Residence life staff prioritizes the students so they can grow into who they are called to be, and the RDs and RAs are a crucial part of keeping students safe and on the right path.
Illuminating Christ: Youth Group Led by MVNU Students
November 2, 2020 I Ellie Perry
Mount Vernon Nazarene University offers many opportunities for students to connect and worship God, but three MVNU students envisioned something more for the campus. That vision prompted sophomores Micah Tuggle, Luke Jungeberg, and Katie Cundiff to start a youth group for their peers, though they didn’t plan on it specifically.
“It started off as us just playing music together,” said Micah Tuggle, an exercise science major. “Then we started talking about how cool it would be to get together and have a little small group,because we felt like it was something we needed and would help us.” He went on to say that they had no idea their gathering, which started out with a few friends, would turn into a youth group.
Luke Jungeberg, also studying exercise science, said that he believes God called him to MVNU for a purpose, but it was unclear to him what exactly that purpose was his freshman year. “However,” he added, “This year I truly believe that this is what God was talking about when I felt Him
speaking to me on my visit here.”
Katie Cundiff, a communication sciences and disorders major, shared her experience. “Luke had talked to me in the summer about starting up a ministry that would operate like a youth group, and I jumped on board immediately.” Cundiff went on to say that her youth group back home played a major role in her walk with Christ and “shaping me to be the Christ-follower that I am today.”As one can imagine, planning a youth group in the midst of COVID-19 might be difficult at times, given social distancing rules and masking, but the three students were up to the task. “We hold our group outside at Ariel Foundation Park,” said Jungeberg. “The tables are 6 feet apart, and we encourage everyone to wear masks.” Jungeberg and Cundiff added that they encourage people to stick with their family groups as well.
The three students each had something different to share when asked how they managed to host a youth group on top of their schoolwork and other campus activities. “This has proven to be the biggest challenge yet,” admitted Tuggle. “It was very stressful getting started. There is always going to be problems and conflict, but when we work through it and see what God is doing in the group, it makes it all worth it." “I think I speak for all of us when I say that we feel blessed and are thankful to have God’s light be shed!” said Cundiff. She also mentioned that they wouldn’t be able to pull it off without two of their friends, Madison Powers and Drew Aljancic, who work behind the scenes for them. They help come up with ideas for the group, driving them back and forth, and help carry all the supplies needed to make the youth group happen. “Basically they are great support systems and we couldn’t do it without them,” added Cundiff.
Their youth group, which they named Illuminate, meets every Sunday night at 8:30 p.m. at the event center in Ariel Foundation Park. Go check out their page on Instagram: @illuminate3_
Res Life Update
October 17, 2020 I Grant Stelzer
Mount Vernon Nazarene University works day and night to get students and everyone on campus involved socially as much as possible. Even in the time of COVID, MVNU still puts on events to connect students while in the midst of confusion and uncertainty.
One of the most social parts of being a part of MVNU’s student body is activities related to Residence Life (Res Life).
According to Zach Sherman, a Resident Director here on campus, Res Life is “dedicated to the care of residential students on MVNU’s campus. This includes co-curricular programming, facility care, crisis response, mentoring, and all things pertaining to housing.” Res life also puts on a lot of events that connect students together including the Res Life Games. Some of these events are events like a Tug of War contest, a boat race, and The Rezzies. The Rezzies are “a video contest between residence areas and commuters. Typically, this is the capstone event for MVNU Games—a month long competition across campus involving all students.” according to Sherman. There are also other events that take place such as “Tea and Testimonies.” “Tea and Testimonies is one of the best activities that we put on,” Sherman continued, “It involves sharing stories with one another, and is a great way for people to connect.”
All of these aspects of campus life and residence life create a more accepting and social feeling on campus, even in times of COVID-19. Res Life helps so much on campus not only with the social side of things, but also just contributing to the hard work of making the campus of MVNU run as smoothly as it possibly can.
MVNU Welcomes Tavarus Taylor
October 5, 2020 I Grant Stelzer
Here at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, the staff and faculty work around the clock to make the campus as inclusive and accepting as possible. Tavarus Taylor, the new director if Intercultural Life at MVNU, is looking to continue to improve the campus inclusivity as much as possible.
Intercultural Life is an organization here on campus that allows partnerships between people to put on events and provide activities that celebrate diversity and inclusion. Some events include “I Have a Dream” partnership with campus ministries, the Black Student Union, and more. All of these peeked Taylors interest in the year 2020.
Taylor visited MVNU in May of 2020 and toured the campus and also took interest in the newly open Director of Intercultural Life position. At the time, working at another campus, Taylor was eventually offered the job in mid-June and accepted just a few days later.
One of the largest tasks to tackle for Taylor was replacing and filling the position of previous Director of Intercultural Life, Jim Singeltary. “[Replacing Singletary are] big shoes to fill due to the investment in the students' lives that he had” said Taylor, adding "It has not been challenging because he has been helping me out a lot. I’m actually going to call him in a few minutes.” He then explained how even though there is a 40-year age gap between the two, they still have experienced life similarly and see the world through a similar lens.
Intercultural Life also has such a big impact on students' lives here on campus. Taylor put it this way, “What [Intercultural Life] does is brings impact to diversity on campus, the more diverse the better the change and we can grow and drive as a whole.”
As well as impacting nearly every part of daily life, COVID-19 also has greatly impacted Intercultural Life events as well. Taylor said that COVID has effected Intercultural Life saying, “By this time we would've had several events, without COVID bigger events could be possible” adding shortly after, “[You have to] be more creative do more things through zoom. It’s also hard to reach people as easily.”
In the future, Taylor suggested that he would love to see a week or summit on global diversity to "Take a week and look at the world.” Taylor then said that he loves his job and wouldn’t imagine himself doing anything else, adding “Some people say that they love their job and don’t really mean it, but when I say it, I totally mean it.”
Reopening the Gyms
October 5, 2020 I Colin Berg
Even during difficult times, there are so many people who want to exercise in a gymnasium to forget about their problems and to stay healthy and active. After a few weeks of closing off workout areas on the MVNU campus, the gymnasium is finally reopened for anybody who wants to workout.
According to the MVNU’s men’s and women’s track coach, Ellis Galion stated in the video update for Student Life (https://vimeo.com/458616282) that, “The Gyms on the weekdays will be open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and then there will be a break between for the athletic teams, and then they will reopen again from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. On the weekends, Saturday and Sunday, they will open up from 1 to 6 p.m.
Galion also stated that, “There is an option to play four-vs-four volleyball, no contact, and for Basketball it is limited to three per hoop, also no contact.” So how can you go about going to the gym and finding space? The track coach answered this question by saying, “You’ve got two options. The big thing we want to push is to reserve your spot online. The way you can do that is to go to gyms.mvnu.edu, and it’s super easy to go on to reserve your spot. Now if you forget, you can go down to a check-in point, and that’ll be the entrance to gym one. So if you don’t apply online, it’ll be first come, first serve; and there will be a gym attendee, so you can sign in with them.”
It’s been pretty difficult trying to accomplish our goals as students during a terrible time like this. But as we continue to be responsible by wearing our masks, washing our hands and staying a respectable distance from each other, I believe that not only will places like the gym reopen up, but our hearts will reopen up as well.
COVID-19 Catch Up
September 20, 2020 Mackenzie Holder
As students, faculty and staff kick off a new school year,
despite the challenges of a global pandemic, you can still
feel the familiar excitement of being back on campus and
among the MVNU community. Along with the traditional emotions
that are part of going back to school comes many new feelings
as the result of COVID 19 that unfortunately sent us home
unexpectedly in early March. Despite challenges, we all did it.
We finished up the school year a little differently than
we would have hoped; but we succeeded, and most of us got
to take a step back and enjoy a somewhat different kind of summer.
However, among the many MVNU faculty and staff working during
the summer months, one person’s job in particular has been impacted
by the virus, and he has worked nonstop since the day we got sent
home with one goal in mind, and that was to allow us to be back on campus this fall.
In a recent interview with Tracy Waal, Vice President for Student Life, who is the point person for COVID 19 at MVNU, he talked about the changes the university has made to allow students to be back and get the full college experience, even though it may look different than previous years. Waal has been working hard to make sure students feel like we are informed and have a good understanding of what is going on around us and on campus. From the very first day we stepped on campus in August, Waal has been saying the same thing -- “We can do this,” which has become his mantra as he addresses different groups of students.
When asked about some of the precautions being taken on campus, Waal explained that plexiglass barriers have been added all over campus, and nine tents have been placed in various spots to allow students to interact but still remain socially distanced. Recently the cafeteria has been reduced to one-fourth capacity to eliminate large groups of people gathering, gyms and workout areas will have limited access, and classrooms will be evaluated to allow six feet between each student.
According to Waal, quickly after their return to campus this fall, students, faculty and staff showed interest in being updated on the number of COVID cases being reported. As a result, you can now go to mvnu.edu/stayinformed to see the number of active cases, the number of people being monitored, and total cumulative cases. Waal explained his biggest challenge during this pandemic “...the fact that everything is constantly changing from one day to the next can make it very difficult to make decisions. I go to bed thinking about COVID; and when I wake up, I have to rethink all of the things I had done the day before.”
When asked about how he felt we are doing as a campus, Waal explained, “We are trying to starve the disease, and we are doing a good job so far.” Waal went on to suggest some things students can do to give us the best chance of staying here the full semester. He emphasized that filling out the daily symptom check and self-reporting symptoms are so important because that is how they are catching cases early. One of the main points Waal emphasized was students need to be physically distancing whenever possible, because that is what will keep our number of cases down. “We can do this. Remember to stay safe, especially when outside and always wear your mask,” he said.
The numbers as of Sept. 25 are 0 active cases, 3 currently being monitored and 17 cumulative cases. Make sure to watch for Waal’s videos for more information on where we are as a campus in terms of COVID. Also check out mvnu.edu/stayinformed for updated numbers everyday at 4 p.m. and keep your eye on the Lakeholm Viewer social media pages where we will keep you updated as we know more.