Western Michigan University creates student-led COVID-19 coalition to keep their peers informed

Western Michigan University's COVID-19 Coalition
Posted at 2:44 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 14:50:10-04

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — As other universities see an increase in COVID-19 cases, Western Michigan University is using a special group to make sure students follow guidelines.

Western Michigan University’s (WMU) COVID-19 coalition started up in August as school came back.

Student organizers said if they’re the ones updating their peers with the latest information, using the terms they know, others will be more likely to follow.

“When we were finally allowed to go back to campus, I really wanted to stay on campus. I wanted the college experience to stay in tact, and I wanted things to keep going and not re-close due to COVID,” said the WMU’s COVID-19 Coalition Founder and Coordinator Melanie Mitchell.

The COVID-19 Coalition is made up of around 30 students plus advisers who are working to keep their peers informed with what’s going in in regards to coronavirus on campus.

“We’ve been doing things like designing info-graphics that project the safety practices that students should be following. We also make COVID-related content. We have a bunch of social media handles and outlets that we post them on. We’ve passed out masks to students,” said Mitchell.

In addition, students are even gaining experience they’ll use in their careers.

“We look at the eight core responsibilities of a health educator, and we are doing most of them right now. It’s exciting to have real life practice. We obviously didn’t want COVID to happen but we’re trying to help out the ways that we are taught,” said the WMU COVID-19 Coalition Chair Alison Yelsma.

The coalition said they’re finding that students are listening to what they’re saying.

Instead of telling students they shouldn’t be doing certain things, the coalition is suggesting ways they can be safe while still being social and enjoying college.

“It is challenging. It is difficult, and it is different. We think it’s really important to have students helping other students during this time,” said WMU’s Director of Health Promotion and Education Cari Robertson.

“If we’re telling our friends and our peers to do it, then there is a little bit more of an understanding and less of a power dynamic than if it’s from faculty,” said Mitchell.

Western Michigan University is also constantly updating their case data through an online dashboard. You can click here for the latest information.