The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday November 28th

Students are stressed. These community organizations want to help.

Screenshot of the Local Parents Supporting UNC Students Facebook group, the page focused on the parent-student connection initiative
Buy Photos Screenshot of the Local Parents Supporting UNC Students Facebook group, the page focused on the parent-student connection initiative

After UNC announced that all fall 2020 classes are now remote and students should make plans to move home, community members and Campus Y directors are offering resources to students who are stressed and in need of support.

The University announced Monday that all undergraduate classes will switch to remote delivery. At first, the University said residents can request to cancel their fall 2020 housing contracts without penalty. Then, in a Carolina Housing email sent Tuesday evening, the University said students should cancel their housing contracts by Aug. 25 and make plans to move back to their permanent homes for the fall semester.

Shivam Bhargava, a junior neuroscience major, noticed a lot of posts from students in the UNC Class of 2024 Facebook group saying they are anxious and worried.

Bhargava, a director of development at the Campus Y, said he will be hosting a Zoom call on Thursday at 8 p.m. for first-year and transfer students who need a place to de-stress and talk to upperclassmen. 

“We just wanted to create a safe space for any first-year to come and talk to some upperclassmen, and just de-stress,” Bhargava said. “I feel like a lot of them don’t really have a support system right now, so we want to at least create some kind of system and place where they can feel supported by other people on campus.”

Caroline Le, a junior health policy and management major, and Eleanor Murray, a junior global studies and American studies major, will co-host a Zoom call with Bhargava. Le is the director of membership at the Campus Y and Murray is a director of outreach.

Le said the Zoom call will give first-year and transfer students the ability to ask upperclassmen questions about navigating online classes and about college life in general.

In addition to support from other students, many students are seeking connections to the community or a parent-like figure.

Tiz Giordano, a queer co-organizer of the local Queer Transgender Indigenous People Of Color Survival Fund, along with UNC professor Sharon P. Holland, is organizing an effort to connect local parents and community members with UNC students whose families are either far away or not offering them support.

Giordano is also a member of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Mothers Club. They posted in the club’s Facebook group asking if parents would want to be connected with UNC students to offer them emotional support and resources.

“I feel so badly for these students,” Giordano said. “I thought, ‘How can we support these students that are stranded, especially students who don’t have local parents or affirming families?’”

Giordano said they have received a large response from parents, with 117 signing up to be connected with students. Among them are many queer parents.

Once matched, the parents can contact the students and offer them emotional support, help them navigate moving home, or help them through their situation in general. Giordano said the resources parents offer students can range from a daily check-in over text to buying someone a plane ticket home.

The initiative offers two Google docs — one for students and one for parents — that can be filled out and processed in order for parent-student connections to be made.

Parents are asked to specify their identities — non-white, queer, multi-lingual and more — and students are able to give preferences for the identities of the parent they are matched with in order to feel the most comfortable and supported.

Giordano emphasized that this initiative is a mutual aid effort and the community members are not vetted before being matched with students.

“This is literally connecting young people who don’t have enough support during the crisis to caring folks,” Giordano said.

Bhargava said the Campus Y, in addition to hosting the Zoom call Thursday, is compiling a list of mental health resources for students, which will be made available on the Campus Y website and social media accounts this week. 

Where to donate

Organizations across campus have begun mobilizing to set up financial support systems and are taking donations. Here's how you can donate: 

  • The Commission for Campus Equality and Student Equity is taking donations at its website. All funds will be donated to students who will have to relocate as a result of COVID-19 on campus for shelter, meals, transportation, and moving.
  • Black Student Movement has a mutual aid fund for and by Black students to support emergency needs that arise during COVID-19. Students can request or donate funds at the website. Donations are also accepted via Cashapp.

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