The Mohawk Students’ Association had just a week to shift all its offerings online when the pandemic struck
Garrett Blair says serving as president of the Mohawk Students’ Association (MSA) has been “the single greatest honour of my life,” though COVID-19 threw any plans he had out the window.
When the pandemic struck last spring, the MSA had just a week to transition its services online, including its one-stop Front Desk, student government, and events.
Early on, the MSA donated $156,000 to pandemic assistance for students, while the college contributed $1 million.
“So that was a partnership that we were very, very proud to be a part of, and this funding was used for COVID expenses, helping students get home, and food assistance,” said Blair, who stepped into the president’s role May 1, 2020.
The MSA answered increased student need by continuing to operate its food bank and monthly breakfast club, along with its Career Closet of donated professional clothing, and its legal clinic. It’s also continued to offer food and drink options on campus, even if that’s been at a loss.
The MSA launched a counselling service – Empower Me – about two years ago that has proven invaluable in this difficult time, says Blair. And the MSA’s Front Desk, which connects students to MSA services or makes referrals to college programs, shifted to video chat.
“It doesn’t replace the face-to-face interaction, but when you need help, it’s better than having to send an email or make a phone call.”
When his one-year term ends this month, Blair says he’ll reflect on all the collaborations formed and the new approaches to student engagement.
“When we can return to a certain level of normalcy, the MSA will exit better than the MSA entered this. And I’m proud of that.”
Image: Garrett Blair, Mohawk Students’ Association President