John Jay Services Connect With Students Virtually

Simone Artwell, Writer

When John Jay closed their doors on March 11, 2020, the mission became clear to keep its college community closely bonded virtually. 

Staff and students quickly realized they had to adapt to these new circumstances to continue to thrive, but that did not come easy. The increase in positive coronavirus cases also led to an increase in student unemployment. For some, this has resulted in taking semesters off because of the inability to pay. 

For over a year, John Jay College fought hard to maximize its resources to provide financial assistance, internship opportunities, jobs, and scholarships to its students. 

“I attended some resume/cover letter workshops,” said Aliya, a Forensic Psychology major, and Junior at John Jay. “I was looking for suggested job opportunities that were available for students.” 

Of course, these opportunities are not a guarantee but the next one might be. Through these workshops, the students gain valuable real-world experience and professional insight needed to make it far in their future careers. 

John Jay had their annual Spring Career + Internship Fair virtually on March 25, 2021. With over 60 employers ranging from Police Departments to Macmillan Publishers, students had the opportunity to speak one on one with the recruiters. 

On John Jay’s remarkably active Instagram page, students can discover resources such as academic support, extracurricular opportunities, and wellness center/emergency assistance. 

Graduate student and Student Senate Delegate of John Jay Student Council Saaif Alam trust that the John Jay Administration tried their best to connect with students despite these trying times.  

“Students can apply for the USS Emergency Grant to help them pay off expenses, related to food, housing, bills, and other expenses,” said Alam. “Also students can apply for Swipe Out Hunger (SNAP) benefits for those who are encountering Food Insecurity.” 

Along with providing financial relief and informative availabilities, the college has worked hard to keep the students active and in a positive mindset. 

“Our Center of Involvement and Leadership Center is working diligently to keep our students engaged during the pandemic,” said Alam.  

From movie and game nights to yoga and salsa dancing workshops, the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership worked tirelessly to remain connected with its students. 

For Freshmen, participation in these events and being able to join clubs have been their only means of connecting with their peers. 

Law and Society major John Bulatao had the opportunity to partake in Freshman movie night. 

“We watched High School Musical,” said Bulatao. “I had a great time getting to meet my classmates and enjoy a throwback movie we could all relate to.”  

Bulatao looks forward to joining the Law and Society Club as well as JJay Radio, so he can prove updates to the student body through media. 

Freshman Anika Amdahl, an International Criminal Justice major, has not let the pandemic become a hindrance to her college experience. 

“I’m already involved with the mock trial team and the International Criminal Justice club, which are amazing experiences to be a part of,” said Amdahl. “I look forward to expanding my participation in programs at John Jay in the future when we’re back on campus.”

While overseeing 30 student organizations, the advanced leadership symposium, the Campus Activity Board, and the Queer Mentor-Mentee Program, Jonathan Salamak, the Evening Coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership managed to stay quite busy during the pandemic. 

“When we switched to virtual events, our priorities switched. We focused less on creating communities and much more on sustaining the community that we already have,” said Salamak. 

In an email, Salamak recounts how hard it has been while also looking at the success achieved during this past year. 

“It’s been over a year, and I believe that we’ve succeeded in that goal. Virtual events are tough, but it’s been great to see new faces at these events as a result of our work sustaining community. We’ve created new clubs and started new initiatives,” said Salamak. 

With the recent enjoyment of his LIDS Symposium, Salamak is excited for the upcoming Springfest Week happening during the last week of April. The John Jay Community should expect big and entertaining events. 

Knowing how rough the transition to the virtual world is, Salamak and the John Jay Administration encourages John Jay students to reach out if they need help. 

“Our Counseling Center has been excellent during this time of crisis! Additionally, Student Affairs has created an LGBTQ+ Resource Center,” said Salamak. “While they’re still new, they’re also very present to help and provide resources for the LGBTQIA+ community.”

With the upcoming fall semester, students and faculty wait anxiously for news about the reopening plans. 

In an email from the Fall Planning Committee, John Jay students, faculty, and staff members have been updated on recent plans for Fall 2021. 

The John Jay Community has been granted two possible scenarios for this upcoming semester, either reopening at 25 percent in-person occupancy rate or 50 percent. Vaccinations have also been deemed a key element in ensuring a safe return to campus.  

“I’m looking forward to going back on campus if possible,” said Criminology major Maria Ramos-Esperanza. “It would be my last semester before I graduated so it would mean a lot to me if I got to go back one last time.”