Interview with Buzz Bares, 01/11/2022

UW Oshkosh Campus Stories
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Transcript

´╗┐GL: This is Grace Lim interviewing Buzz Bares on Tuesday, January 11, 2022, for Campus COVID Stories. Campus COVID Stories is a collection of oral stories from students and staff at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh about their experiences in the time of COVID. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. Before we get started, could you please state your name and spell it for us?

BB: Sure. My name is Buzz Bares. B-U-Z-Z, last name B-A-R-E-S.

GL: Now for the purposes of getting a good audio recording, tell us again who you are and what your title is here at UW Oshkosh.

BB: My name is Buzz Bares, and I'm an associate dean of students here at UW Oshkosh.

GL: Before we dive into your Campus COVID Story, we'd like to get to know you a little bit better. Tell us about where you grew up.

BB: Sure. I grew up in Fond du Lac, actually not very far from here. Landing in Oshkosh was not because I grew up in Fond du Lac, that was just because we're 00:01:00where the job was. I got my undergrad degree at UW River Falls. I got my master's degree at UW Platteville. And then after that master's degree at Platteville, came directly here at that time.

GL: So which degrees did you earn?

BB: My undergrad degree was in biology. And my master's degree was in counselor education.

GL: And then how did you end up here?

BB: I had started dating actually someone that I worked with in Platteville. And a job opening came up, especially for him. But I was looking to be a hall director and an opening came up. And we received a call because we knew some folks here inviting us to come up and both interview for jobs. At that time, didn't think that would really be something we'd be interested in. But after 00:02:00interviewing here, we both took those jobs. And we've been here ever since.

GL: And when was that?

BB: 1984.

GL: And what was your first job here?

BB: I was a residence hall director in South Scott Hall.

GL: And how long have you been in the position you are in now?

BB: Five years.

GL: Since when?

BB: Guess that would be the 16th. Yeah, 2016. I'd have to look back, but it's been five years.

GL: Okay. And tell us about what exactly is your role here as the Associate Dean.

BB: It's supposed to be a generalist role in the Dean of Students Office, which would be providing student advocacy in a variety of ways, both through our Student Care team. If they have questions or concerns sometimes with faculty 00:03:00sometimes with getting through all the different processes. We try to help with that. My role specifically as I have oversight on any conduct for the university, both non academic and academic misconduct, Title Nine investigations, sexual misconduct investigations. Those are things I specifically have oversight on.

GL: How many people do you have in your department that you oversee?

BB: Currently two there's more in the department, I just don't supervise them.

GL: Okay. All right. So let's move to the early days of COVID. Do you recall the first time you actually heard about this virus?

BB: Yeah, probably January ish of 2020. And I remember thinking people are making kind of a big to do about all of this. And specifically end of January 00:04:00beginning of February somewhere in there. Probably February. I'm on a core team for sexual violence against women grant and several of seven of us at a travel to training. And I remember being at the airport with them was in Atlanta, and I saw people with masks at the airport a few and I remember thinking boy, that's weird. And, and it made me worried to see the people in masks because I thought well, they must be sick, etc, etc. But so that was really the first time I thought about it. And at that time, I I thought it was being a bit overblown, quite honestly.

GL: Were you traveling to?

BB: Atlanta.

GL: Okay.


BB: For this conference.

GL: All right. And then at what point did you decide where that you changed your, your thinking about this virus, you know what, what changed it or what turned to all this is something that I should be worried about?

BB: Watching the cases escalate and I remember there was John Hopkins, I believe put out this, you could log in for cases in your state, in your, in the country, etc. And I remember looking at the starting to look at that every day. And seeing that, and I remember specifically when I heard about the first COVID death in Wisconsin, and the reality really set in at that point that this is more serious than I had anticipated originally.

GL: Was it part of your job to check that website or was something that you just 00:06:00want to do?

BB: It was not part of my job. It was just something I wanted to keep track and see. So it wasn't a part of my job. That was me personally looking at that.

GL: And when did you get word that the university was going to have to shut down for a little bit if not for longer?

BB: We a staff meeting at Dean of Students Office staff meeting. And we are told we're going to be shutting down at that time was in March, obviously. And I remember we're, I was on a search committee for position. And on that Friday, we had interviewed our final campus on campus candidate had brought them here. And then and then we shut down the next week. So that's we I learned of it at a staff meeting.

GL: And what happened in your department when you got that word? I mean, talk 00:07:00walk, you know, just tell us in detail.

BB: Sure. So it was different for everyone, because everyone had different concerns, concerns from people that had children, because obviously some schools were going to be closing and what do we do with that? So those that had small kids had additional worries and concerns. I remember thinking, well, this will be for a couple of weeks, at that time, which I'm sure most people did. But I remember thinking I'm much more of an in person person than a remote person. And I remember thinking that this will never work to go remote. Which, obviously, it's been fine. But I remember personally thinking this was just going to be a few weeks. I remember others saying no, this is going to be a month or two. So 00:08:00we all it was weird because I had a plant in the office. And like I could probably take this with and couple other people did too. So it was better empty out the refrigerator because we have a refrigerator for everyone to put their lunches or whatever in. And so there was just some weird tasks. And it was, for me a very empty feeling when I walked out of there in March. Not guessing that this long, but at that time, even thinking two weeks is really traumatic, obviously at the university, the country had never done anything like that before. So it's like this is a big deal.

GL: So when you left the office, then you took your plant home. And did you take you know we. I mean, you were thinking that you were gonna come back in a couple weeks.

BB: Yeah.

GL: So you were not really that worried were you?


BB: Not at that time. I didn't have kids, little kids, that I had to worry about trying to manage that. So I wasn't I thought we would be back again, some folks said nah it's going to be a month or two, maybe even the whole semester rest of the semester. And I thought well, I managed for that long. But yeah, I did not my own personal sense was we would be back in a little bit.

GL: What did you do with the cases where the the students that you've been working with? Prior to shutting down.

BB: Communicated email and phone and I remember it was interesting. What before COVID We went home I would never use my personal cell phone to call students or parents I talk with a lot of parents as well. Especially In the conduct process, 00:10:00I did not want to use my personal cell phone. And then when I got home and we're working from home, it's like, well, that's out the window. And it actually was never a problem, I was concerned that I would be getting calls, text, whatever it is. And that really never turned into a problem. So we were still able to communicate. Certainly by originally, I didn't use teams, it was phone calls and emails.

GL: Some employees were deemed their their jobs were deemed essential in the, you know, keeping the university open or taking care of, etc, etc. Was your role deemed essential in that respect that you had to be here in person?

BB: Not to be in person. I know some people the next summer were furloughed. We were not furloughed. We were deemed I don't know, whatever that recognition was, but we needed to keep working. But we were not working. We were able to work remotely.


GL: Okay. You know prior to COVID. I mean, how?

BB: I'm sorry. The only difference with that is is people in our office, take call for the university, if anything, crisis concerns come up, then we would have to come to campus, if there was something that needed our attention in person. So that would have been the only time we would have needed to have been in person.

GL: So when you went home in the March of in the middle of March of 2020, did you how long did you work remotely?

BB: A long time until this fall or the summer I guess. So we worked remotely that all next last year, I guess.

GL: Okay.

BB: Whatever that would, yeah, up until this summer, we came back all in person.

GL: Okay. So from fall 2020 to spring 2021. Then you came back in person in?


BB: August, I think it was.

GL: August of 2021. Okay. Okay. Prior to COVID, do you have I mean, does everybody get a certain number of cases or that you're working on? I mean, I don't know how that works.

BB: Yep. We we tried to divide that up as equitably as we can. So we did their Student Care Team cases, conduct etc. And so we tried to do that somewhat equitably. We also would, if I had worked with a student previously, then I would generally get that again. And I know you're going to ask us in a minute, but in my role for EOC. My caseload skyrocketed. So.

GL: So prior to COVID, how many student cases were you handling? I mean, from all aspects.

BB: Sure. I can give you specific numbers. But generally speaking, from all I, I 00:13:00couldn't give you spec, I'd have to look up those numbers to give you an actual data. But I will say our Student Care Team cases have risen every semester since COVID. This has been our highest fall in the last ever,

GL: When you say Student Care cases, what does that mean?

BB: If a student needs so our office manages Student Care, and on that team, we have people from the Provost Office, Health Center, Counseling Center, ResLife, police, etc.. And there may be times when a student might just need some extra wraparound services or wraparound care either for an acute crisis, perhaps death of a loved one, mono, whatever that might be. Or they might need more long care because of mental health illness, things like that. So Student Care manages 00:14:00that. And so those are students who for one, some might be on our agenda for a week, some might be on for a year, some might be their whole time here, just really depends upon what they need to try to help them be successful.

GL: So let's go back to spring of 2020, when we were sent home and the students were sent home, how were you able to take care of those students that you know? And then the new cases that you're given.

BB: Sure. We did that remotely. Met with them in in that spring primarily by phone or email, and but we still did that and then I if I needed to reach out to the Provost Office for some academic concerns that the student was having based on their crisis, whatever it is. And then I would just do that and we met as a 00:15:00care team, we did meet. We meet every week. And we continued to during that time by teams

GL: Who, who's in the care team?

BB: Dean of Students Office, Residence Life, the police, Student Health Center, Counseling Center. That might be all.

GL: Okay. So the spring is, you know, we only had about, I think six or seven weeks during that spring semester, were the cases COVID related, or were they exasperated by COVID? Or?

BB: Yes, they were not certainly all COVID related, we've always had care, but mental health concerns for students has risen fairly dramatically during COVID. And it started that spring, certainly, whether it was for themselves or loved ones, it was impacted the switch to online was great for some students, not 00:16:00great for others. So there was a lot of concerns, but I can't do these classes remotely. And then primarily if they were ill, in any way. Or, or loved ones, etc. So it did impact students starting then.

GL: How was it? I mean, for you personally, when you have to handle these cases, and you hear these, you know, the students telling you these things, I mean, what was it like for you to? I mean, usually they come to your office, right before?

BB: Yeah, oftentimes, or they'll call and then we'll get an appointment set up.

GL: Okay. I mean, what was it like to having to, I guess, counsel them through through this, via phone, or teams or email?

BB: Right. It for me, it took some getting used to because I am much more of a people person, I did find that a virtual meeting tended to be easier for me, 00:17:00even then an in person, because you could see the whole person's face. And oftentimes in tough situations, being able to read that person from a counseling perspective is really helpful. It helping being able to give students answers, or at least a direction is very rewarding for me. So there was just so much happening that spring and happening so quickly. Being able to help guide students, while it took more work was was rewarding, certainly.

GL: So what can I know you can't talk specifics, but generally, what kind of how would you help them? What advice?

BB: Yep, reaching out, perhaps, to instructors for advocacy, out of class letters, like, when it was online it wasn't as difficult because even if they 00:18:00had COVID, if they were feeling well, they could certainly still attend. We, if things get real dropping, we our office can do late drops for classes and late withdrawals, but helping them and like I can't do all these classes. So we could help them in that way. And then connecting them with other resources, connecting them with a person in financial aid or connecting with the registrar's office, whatever it could be. So sometimes just being that conduit, to get them to the place they actually need to go. Because when a student comes to me talking about my financial aid is messed up or whatever it is like that I know nothing about but at least they know the people over there. So I can put you in touch with a person. And so sometimes it's just being that bridge to get them to where they need to go. But it was a bit of a whirlwind that spring.


GL: What would you say were your biggest challenges during the the time COVID workwise for you?

BB: That spring or in general?

GL: From that spring to I guess to now.

BB: Sure. Caseload was a huge challenge. One, in my regular job cases, really went up from Student Care academic misconduct skyrocketed during that time, not just that spring, but that whole next year. So academic misconduct skyrocketed, which I oversee. And then, quote, my task for the EOC was compliance. That's was my role. So and that was compliance with everything from mask mandates to isolation and quarantine basically complying with everything that was in the Chancellor's. orders. So that had added a huge layer of additional work. I 00:20:00didn't have a team, per se. So originally, I took that all on myself thinking, well, I can keep up. And that was really impossible. So it was that the uptick in the workload was huge.

GL: I don't understand when you say that you had that your office to take care of masking and compliance when you cannot follow every student around where every employee around. How did you do that?

BB: So the summer of 20, is when I EOC really formed it and, and I was asked to do the compliance piece. So at that time I started working on I have an incident reporting form that's available to everyone, and it's on the website. And then all of those reports come directly to me. So anytime anyone wanted to report a 00:21:00COVID concern, that report came to me. So that was one piece. And then, so no, we couldn't follow people around. But once one reports came in, then we manage them. So. And then that included in the classroom. So when instructors would report I've asked the student to put their mask on and they keep taking it, whatever that is, so would be both classroom compliance. And then certainly in the residence halls was a space where compliance was tough. And in the rec center was the other that those were the three biggest places where mask compliance concerns were.

GL: So once you get these reports on, how many reports are we talking about? I know you don't have to specific numbers, but just give me a general idea.

BB: Last year, so fall of 20, spring of 21, there was about 900, and some.


GL: And this was for masking mosconduct?

BB: No not just masking, it was everything. So when those reports would come in, I would tag that as a COVID concern. So I could just pull an analytic for how many COVID concerns that we have. So masking, violations of isolation and quarantine. Guess those were the biggest.

GL: And what happened to those cases once they get to you?

BB: Depend upon the egregiousness of it masking typically, we would warn a student. If it continued, then they might be placed on probation. They maybe were moved to different residence halle if they couldn't figure it out. The classroom compliance they couldn't go back to that classroom unless they met with me first. In which I would expedite that pretty quickly, obviously. But 00:23:00they would receive a letter from me saying can't go back to class until you meet with me and I've scheduled an appointment at this time. Originally, we would just send a warning for minor violations of the mask policy. And then at the student rec on be per the that staff asking if a student got a COVID concern report filed on them at the Rec Center they had a two week suspension from the rec center.

GL: So has any student been expelled for their violations?

BB: Not expelled. The way the code of conduct for the system is expelled is from every school for forever. So expelling doesn't happen anywhere, very often. We have unfortunately had to suspend a number of students for COVID violations, 00:24:00which is really a shame. But and these were egregious violations, things like they were knowingly positive and then chose to continue to go to class, chose to live to lie about where they were going to isolate, and maybe continue to live in the residence halls. So basically endangering the safety of others. That's what we would suspend for as if you were endangering the safety of others.

GL: So you are as a member of the EOC you were I guess you oversaw the compliance program.

BB: Yeah.

GL: Okay. And then with whom did you work more closely with in executing this?

BB: Sure. Ellie Lang who is the conduct coordinator for Residence Life another big piece of the compliance was managing testing mandates. So residential 00:25:00students, initially residential students who had to be they had to test once a week. So I was also tasked with making sure people got tested every week. And then, this year, it was everyone who was not vaccinated had to be tested every week. So as you might guess, that was a lot of spreadsheets of pulling all that together, who got tested, who didn't, etc. So, I didn't, especially for the testing, mandate, that compliance, Ellie Lang and the Residence Life crew helped a lot with that, because that was very labor intensive.

GL: How many students are we talking about in the beginning, when you had the test weekly?

BB: Oh, gosh, probably for the residential students, probably about 2500. I want 00:26:00to say,

GL: And this is all done in Albee?

BB: Yes.

GL: Okay. All right. And then, you know, we talked about the challenges of of COVID in regards to your work, remind me those again.

BB: Well.

GL: The workload.

BB: The workload. And that was somewhat even without being on EOC, the workload increased. And then, but with EOC, it increased a lot. Trying to, again, manage all these different pieces between the testing and the masking, and the isolation and quarantine, as you might guess, a lot of that took a lot of time. So I guess going back to workload, it also, despite the fact that my job is 00:27:00conduct for the university, I really hate suspending students, that I wouldn't work in education, if my goal is to suspend people. And it is sad that because of COVID, we have had to suspend people and but we can allow them also to endanger others. So.

GL: Your work with the EOC, is, it's it's a volunteer position, right?

BB: Yes. Or voluntold? Whichever. Yeah, it was in. In as much work as it has been, it really gave me an opportunity to meet people I never would have worked with, outside of that, which is a plus. And weirdly, last year, we met every 00:28:00day, so get to know em pretty well. And, and I when we before this recent uptick, we are talking about how are we going to sunset this group? And what will our role be after that? And it's like, dang, I'm gonna miss everybody. So it is a volunteer position. And for some people on EOC their job roles change. So I used to be this now, I'm no longer this at all and I'm this. In my case, I'm still this and this.

GL: So it's like, like, more than doubling your well your course load I mean your your workload.

BB: Yeah it really, it did. And foolishly, originally, I didn't want to put additional work on others. So I was trying to manage as myself. And that was completely unsustainable. And I sustained it for far too long. And then did 00:29:00enlist the help of others particularly realizing it when we had to start mandating all this testing last fall. It's like it was a very labor intensive because we sent well, first we had to check to see who was and then we had tried to get a hold of them. And it's like if you don't get this done, we're gonna move you to quarantine until you do. So there was just a lot of moving parts with all of that. So yeah, then I started help and then also then Residence Life folks started managing the repeat, mask people, etc. So I didn't I shared it at that point.

GL: So knowing what you know now, how was there anything you would have done differently? You know, in the earlier days, or you know, through the fall of 2020.

BB: I would have come up with better processes for managing COVID compliance. 00:30:00Obviously, there was no blueprint anywhere to do any of this. So that summer, I was just making stuff up and drafting letters and doing different things. And certainly I would talk with colleagues from other UW System schools, but what they were doing, we shared resources. But I would have one, I didn't anticipate the workload. And two, I would have come up with better processes. Right away. But we didn't know we didn't know. So it was tough to come up with those ideas, when we didn't even know what it would look like. I would have been less worried about technology. In that, teams are great. And I now I'm not meeting in person with students now anyways, but moving forward, I would like to give students the 00:31:00option to meet either in person or virtually depending upon what they're most comfortable with. For things like our Student Care team, when you're bringing people from offices all around campus, to a central location to meet, it's really effective time effective for us to do it virtually. So there are some things that I think, personally, I would advocate that we continue to use, moving forward. I miss our staff meetings in person. And this is weird, but sometimes you can't talk over each other in teams, you just have to be quiet until the next person and that person's done talking. And I mean that in more of a playful way, like in our staff meeting, if you're giving somebody a hard time about something, you can't do that in teams. And so but they are effective, and, 00:32:00and easy to do. So I will on a day like today, but a student who's over in Scott Hall would rather teams meeting than walk all the way to Dempsey. So some of those things are are nice.

GL: Tell me again, when when did you come back in person?

BB: We came back in person August, one ish of this past summer, so 21.

GL: Okay. And then, in the fall of 2021, vaccines are now were readily available, and we have the, you know, the vaccine center, community center, and then, you know, you what were your initial initial reactions to the news about the vaccine?

BB: Personally, I couldn't wait and to get it. And there had been so much talk and so much anticipation. And I think unrealistically the thought, once we have 00:33:00vaccines, this will be done. Which part of my I'm always kind of glass half full. And that was my thought once we get everybody vaccinated. So my thoughts were, I can't wait to get this done and get this started. And I was proud of the fact that we had not one but two places on campus where you could get vaccines, one at, you know, more for the general public and then one for employees and students. So I was excited, too excited, because I figured that would now put everything back to normal. And we're we're certainly still working on that piece.

GL: The oh, I was going to ask you about the shoot. Go ahead.


BB: And I was gonna say I know a big piece of EOC this fall was trying to encourage students to get vaccinated. I know we really wanted to get to that 70% so we could get out those scholarships, which we were able to do. So I know that was a big push of let's get folks vaccinated.

GL: Right, hold on, I guess it's gonna I know, I had something else that I asked you and then I forgot to write it down. And now I'm trying to I know the minute that you leave me I'm gonna say oh my gosh, this is this is what. Oh, yes. I remember now. Talk about the uptick in cases. You know, you had you're dealing with more what, in addition to the non compliance of the COVID mandates. So there was an uptick in student misconduct.

BB: Yep.

GL: Tell us a little bit about that.

BB: Specifically, academic misconduct. There was a big uptick. Residential 00:35:00misconduct, we had fewer students in the residence halls last year because of COVID. Because of everything with fewer students in any case, so non academic misconduct was actually down a bit because we had fewer students, but academic misconduct skyrocketed. And I, I don't know that it was specific, and it wasn't what you would think because we went online of people cheating on tests, or collaborating on test.Plagiarism was the biggest thing. And, and this just wasn't here at Oshkosh and talking with my colleagues, not only in the system, but around the country. academic misconduct, went up in most places. And, and I was trying to figure out why. And I think sometimes in a classroom, if you and I were both in a classroom, and I'm like, I started this project, this is going to 00:36:00take me forever, I didn't think it was going to be that long. Well, that might then make you think, oh, jeepers, I better get on that. And, and by not being in person, you don't get that interaction. And I think procrastination led to a lot. And then people at the last minute, are I gotta get this in, and I'm never gonna get this done. There was an uptick in people using cheating online resources, like Chegg, or Gradesaver. Chegg is more of a science, math one and Gradesaver is more of the paper writing cheating area. And I think faculty became more knowledgeable of those. And certainly, there was some cheating with collaboration. But it was plagiarism that really went up. So much, so so the 00:37:00spring of 20 was the highest number I had received in a year. And that put us at whatever the number was fall 20 and spring 21. I was doubled that number from the previous high. So and this fall is my is the highest fall ever for academic misconduct. So I I'm not sure where this came from. But I'm sure there's many different factors that have led to it. But yeah, academic misconduct just skyrocketed.

GL: Do you talk to the students or you ask them? What? I mean.

BB: Yeah. I do. Now, it's a little bit different in that the instructor is the investigator. And they generally just let me know, but I have asked them, it's 00:38:00like what led to this, and I didn't talk to everyone. So this is just bits and pieces of things. But it was for the students I talked to it was mental health combined with too much at the end too much going on, overwhelmed. So it was more mental health and feelings of being overwhelmed. And they thought it wouldn't matter. And they needed to get it done. And so that seemed to be the biggest piece mental health and academic misconduct. Actually, for the whole system became such a big deal that myself, someone from Green Bay, and someone from Whitewater were asked to present to the Board of Regents on the intersection of academic misconduct and mental health. So I was able to do that last year, which then brought forward the request to look at the code of the academic code of 00:39:00conduct which is, it hasn't been updated since 84. So as you might guess, it's not very updated. But one piece the Board of Regents wanted us to look at to put in there is some kind of an advocacy availability for students going through the process.

GL: So what were some of your discoveries, your regarding mental health and the cheating?

BB: That a feeling of being overwhelmed was primarily and and COVID certainly added to that because we were dealing with students who are not only worried about things that are happening at school, but their loved ones or family, friends or whatever, are dealing with the effects We had so many students who 00:40:00experienced the loss of a loved one. And then as you get behind, then you get sick, then you do so it was being overwhelmed in many ways and feeling that extreme anxiety. And one not only more difficult concentrate, but then the thought that I can't get this done. So to give you one example, Our office also does out of class letters. In a typical semester, we'll get maybe 400 to 500 requests for that. This past fall, we had over 2200. Now some of that was because previous last year, there were online options. So if you had COVID, you could just go online. And stay with it if you were feeling okay. But that also became overwhelming for our office this fall, somewhat, because there were no 00:41:00longer online options. But also people experiencing losses, mental health, we track the reasons for that. And mental health skyrocketed this fall for one of the reasons in addition, obviously, to medical reasons, but so yeah, so usually a semester would be four to 500, we were like 2250, this fall.

GL: The when you said that the students experienced losses? Are we talking about losses due to COVID?

BB: Yes. Parents, loved ones, grandparents. We had students caring for loved ones who may have had other issues, immunosuppression, different things. We have students who have their own medical issues who struggled with some of that. So 00:42:00yeah, COVID impacted the mental health of our students in a variety of ways, but did so profoundly.

GL: How did you, you know, reckon, or balanced the idea that when you cheat, you have to face consequences work the, you know, the external factors that are affecting our students to behave, you know, yeah, poorly.

BB: And even if you have mental health issues, you still have to conform to the code of conduct, or it's not fair to the other students. So if it would be more about they do need to be held responsible, certainly. But what is an appropriate sanction, then in that case, and, and then also, sharing, here's some options. 00:43:00If you ever get in this bind, again, here are some other ways you can manage this other things you can do. Did you talk to the instructor? I found most instructors through this whole COVID period have been incredibly flexible and willing to work with students. And, and students sometimes are afraid to ask for that. So I would try to encourage students, you got to look at some alternatives here. We have not suspended a student for academic misconduct. Mostly it's been the sanction would be a lower failing grade on that assignment. So if you cheated on a paper, you just maybe get a lower or zero on that assignment. We have very, very few repeat, people who do academic misconduct, which is a plus. So hopefully, that message is there that you can't do this, and you might get 00:44:00caught. And there are other alternatives. So we have very, very few who ever repeat. But it is a lesson to learn you can't do that.

GL: And then how has, you know, I think we touched on this already. But tell me moving forward, has COVID changed some ways that you might do your work? You know?

BB: Yeah, certainly from a technology perspective, using teams is a great resource. Even with my fellow conduct officers from across the system. We used to always meet twice a year in person, which I still love, we'd go I mean, it's a better experience. But now we meet more frequently, and we do it via teams. And it's pretty efficient and certainly saves the university money in that regard. So, I do believe that that will affect the technology piece, I certainly 00:45:00will take into account moving forward, what what's the most efficient way to do what we need to do? So that piece, well, I think, obviously COVID will continue to impact employees and students. And we have to be mindful of that, in my role, I get to see that impact probably greater than most faculty, and most most others, because students come to us for that help. So I, I hope everyone continues to be empathic, empathetic to students and their different roles. And 00:46:00even it's like, you think everyone is 2.3 kids, white picket fence, and a dog. And that's not what our student body is like, at all. They're all very diverse, in all have their own set of concerns and obstacles, and we just have to be mindful of that. And COVID has really exacerbated a lot of that. And I'm hoping on a positive note that that helps all of us understand that. Not everybody's in the same spot and can do things, we'll just do this and say, well, that person can't, for various reasons. So I'm hoping it helps us to be more empathetic to people.

GL: From your, from your own position, and your department's position, I mean, what are you most proud of in your COVID response?

BB: That we, from my position in the Dean of Students Office, that we really 00:47:00managed, an incredibly high workload. And again, not just from COVID stuff, but just because everything amped up. And we managed, that I'm, I believe our work on EOC made a difference. And I believe that we made a lot of good decisions and a lot of good choices, as best we could in that time. So I think if EOC had not been what it was, we'd have been certainly in a very worse place, I believe. So I'm very proud of how EOC functioned as a team. It's weird. It's the most diverse committee I've ever been on. As far as people and where they're from and what they do like care team, it's all pretty much all student affairs people and you throw in the Provost Office, but this is very diverse. And I give Chief 00:48:00Leibold a lot of credit for he basically picked everyone for the most part on the team in and they all bring such different strengths and, for me in a committee, I'm very much about harmony, and we all have to agree and, and with this committee, I've never been more comfortable, where we all don't agree on stuff. And, and that's okay, because that's the purpose of this group is to bring different ideas. And if we all thought down one path, we wouldn't be as efficient or effective. So it's been probably the most unique committee I've ever been on one. It's, I mean, we met a lot and for forever now. But that said, extremely efficient. And in the most comfortable I've been with, whether it's 00:49:00challenging someone, or questioning someone, or if I have this great idea, but everyone else says well it's not gonna work because of this. So I'm proud of that committee and the way it functions and I I don't take credit for that I but I'm excited to be a part of that.

GL: And what has living and working during time COVID have taught you about yourself?

BB: To be extraordinarily flexible, somewhat with working. I mean before COVID any change at a university took forever and I by forever, like a year. I mean to think of, oh, we're gonna go totally online without COVID, that would have taken two years of planning and work. It took two weeks. And so being able to function 00:50:00in such a way in the workplace of flexibility of well we got to make this work. And also just making stuff up as we go. Because there isn't a blueprint, there are no best practices for this. So we it's okay to just make stuff up and go with it. And if it doesn't work, then try something else. So that piece is good. Personally, somewhat, also flexible in that, getting out of habits, like I love to go out to eat. That's one of my favorite things to do. Well, that didn't happen for a really long time. So how do we manage that? And then even interactions with family and things like that? Do we get together? Is it safe to get together? Should we get together in someone's home? So I guess thinking of 00:51:00those things, and moving forward. But I think just the idea that it doesn't have to be the way it always was. And sometimes knocking that box over and getting out of it is a good thing. So if we need to, we can make those changes making pretty quickly. So yeah, that was a bit eye opening for me.

GL: Looking into I know, we're gonna, you know, we're in winter interim right now, what are your thoughts about the spring, the spring semester 2022?

BB: Yep. So certainly concerned, we're going to have a surge when we come back. And the whole country is, so I can't imagine that we won't. And we've certainly 00:52:00made some changes regarding mandating tests. And this is all based on science and make sense. So we've made some changes in that regard. So looking to the spring, I do fully expect a surge, but then I'm hoping that then things do kind of ease as this variant dies off a bit. I know there will be others, but hopefully, they will be more like this one, which is what the science is saying it should be. Because while it's more contagious, it's not as deadly. And and I'm guessing you and anyone can talk about people they knew who have passed away from this. So, so I'm hoping that we continue to move forward on a path to where COVID is more like the flu, where yep, it gets some people sick get a shot. I 00:53:00don't think we're certainly there yet. But and I don't know that we'll get there this spring. But I'm hoping that that's what we move to maybe that's more for fall, the spring, from a Dean of Students Office perspective, I am really worried about starting out and not having online options for students, we're going to have a high infection rate, initially at least. And I'm really worried for what that will do for students academically, because of the time they have to be out. And so I know it's a huge, huge deal for faculty to have dual modalities for teaching. I understand that. But from our Student Advocate advocacy perspective, it's putting a lot of students in a bad place. We had to do a lot of late drops a lot of withdrawals for students who they maybe were in quarantine for 10 days. Then they got sick, so they had to be out 10 more days, 00:54:00well that's 20 days out of a semester, that's a lot of days. And I'm afraid we're going to see a real high percentage of students getting sick early on in the spring and missing class.

GL: Yeah, I what are you gonna do?

BB: Exactly and I don't have a great answer. But that worries me that students will start off the semester in a bad spot academically. You miss first couple of weeks of school and you're really in a in an in a terrible place to try to be successful.

GL: We talked about all things the reserve anything else that you would like to add that I we haven't talked on?

BB: Not really. I know that COVID has, just speaking from the EOC perspective, taken a lot of people's time and But I think it's it's time well spent. I think 00:55:00we made good decisions, sound decisions as best we could with the knowledge we had. And I'll be curious. Somebody at EOC before Omicron, we're talking about well, now we'll just be prepared for all other emergencies. And we'll do tabletop exercises to be for the EOC and say, can we just maybe take a month off before we start doing these other things, then Omicron it so it didn't matter. But so I feel like that playbook of having a ready team to go. And you never know what it's going to be like, Neenah high schools had to shut down because of an IT security, breach of some sort. So there's no school and they're completely cut off from the internet right now. So and Mark Clements who's on our our EOC 00:56:00team had texts that are teams us, however, that is called and said, yeah, this is what keeps me awake at night. And so cybersecurity that certainly could be or even just the natural disaster, a tornado hits campus, what do we do, etc. So I think the EOC model is a good one. And the key is getting the right people on the team. Which again, I really give credit to Chief Leibold for doing that, because originally when we all got together, it's like, well, this is a really eclectic group of people and, and it, it's been working really well.

GL: Thank you for sharing your stories with us. We appreciate your contribution to the Campus COVID Stories at UW Oshkosh.