Fall 2020 has been a tumultuous semester. The COVID-19 pandemic has kept everyone on their toes trying to stay up with new and updated rules, not only from local governments but from various businesses and institutions as well. Lubbock Christain University has been no different.
Randal Dement is the Vice President for Student Life and serves on the task force responsible for developing LCU’s COVID response. The purpose of this task force was initially to bring a new president to the campus, but it was quickly repurposed to deal with the oncoming pandemic.
A Fluid Situation
Randal said the fluidity of the situation was the most difficult thing to work with. He said that initially, the plan was for students to be able to return to campus after spring break of 2020, but that the situation quickly escalated to make it unfeasible.
Randal said, “There really wasn’t much time to watch [the pandemic]build momentum…there was probably a 10-day window where it was just minute-to-minute — every time we make a decision something would change.”
This issue of an ever-changing crisis plagued not only LCU’s leaders but the leaders of her sister schools as well, such as Abilene Christian University and Oklahoma Christian University. Randal said the student life teams of each school would meet weekly throughout the summer in a constant battle of having to create responses and policies, and almost immediately have to discard them.
“The difficulty was making the very best decisions you can that fits your mission and that fits [you’re] business model. We are a face-to-face institution. We modified, we had to pivot to be online for the spring, but we know this is a face-to-face institution.”
Randal is confident that there was probably some aspect of their process that could have been better handled, but he is also confident that they acted in the best way possible with the information they were given to work with. The goal, he said, was to do what was necessary to get students on campus in person. That is what they achieved, and the commitment to that goal is what separates LCU from other universities.
He said, “We were pretty fierce on our mask requirements early on. That is what would allow us to stay face-to-face and allow students to do the things they want to do, because there were rec centers and places like that that were closing down. We wanted to give ourselves the best chance for students to participate.”
And the Future?
When asked if any COVID-19 policies would remain after the pandemic has passed, Randal Dement said that he sees more practices sticking around than he does policies.
For instance, some insight was gained about more efficient methods for freshman move-in, as well as about other alternatives for spiritual life credits. But, bottom line, he looks forward to the day that the people of LCU will no longer have to wear masks or social distance.
For more information about LCU’s COVID-19 goals, policies, and procedures, visit https://lcu.edu/face2face