We know that any time someone mentions 2020, the first thing that will come to mind is the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Maybe some will think of Australia burning or the turbulent American election, but most will think about the coronavirus.
Although this year has been challenging, difficult, lonesome, stressful — we could go on and on — quite a lot of positive events have happened. You may have become a pro home baker, made a decent dent in your Netflix watchlist or even discovered new ways to stay active.
Here at uOttawa, we also experienced many positive changes over the past year. Let’s take a moment to celebrate and reminisce about the growth we experienced together.
University of Ottawa Gee-Gees women’s and men’s basketball teams win Capital Hoops Classic games against Carleton University
On February 7, 2020, history was made at TD Place as the Gee-Gees women’s and men’s basketball teams claimed two hard-fought victories against the Ravens in the 14th edition of the Capital Hoops Classic. There are no words to describe the impressive, electric feeling the fans and the teams experienced that day.
Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) brings the University community together to study
Last March, the Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) allowed students to fight procrastination through various activities and services, such as pet therapy and research help from a librarian, from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.! With pyjamas and comfy clothes strongly recommended, and free coffee and healthy snacks available, LNAP proved itself once again to be a fantastic way for you to get academic and moral support at a critical time of the term in a fun, inclusive environment.
Streamlined access to services with three new virtual hubs and chat
The uOttawa website is full of important information and valuable resources. But we know that it can also be quite challenging to navigate. Mental health and wellness, academic support and career development, and experiential learning services transitioned to online hubs to provide student assistance beyond the usual email and phone calls. The Wellness Hub, Academic GPS and Career Corner connect students with peer experts and employees who promptly answer questions and direct students to specific resources over chat.
Since the implementation of the three hubs in late summer last year, more than 1,500 students have already used the live chat and received advice and answers to their questions!
Gee-Gees men’s hockey captain creates Mongo’s Brave Buddies Initiative
In July, the uOttawa Gee-Gees men’s hockey team put together a special project called Mongo’s Brave Buddies. This initiative was spearheaded by Yvan Mongo, a third-year forward who was named the team’s captain in November. As a Black hockey player, Mongo strives to take his experiences and use them to make a lasting change in lives of BIPOC minor hockey players. This project, born out of the global uprising for social justice, is the first of its kind to come from a U SPORTS hockey program.
Moving into residence is one of the first big milestones for students in their university experience. The 2020 Move-In Weekend (or week in this case) lasted eight full days, and the University of Ottawa welcomed around a thousand Gee-Gees! Every precaution was taken to keep new residents and their families, as well as all members of the uOttawa community, safe from COVID-19.
Students reserved their arrival times online before coming to campus, and Housing Service staff used trays to bring sanitized keys to new residents to avoid any physical contact. A community adviser delivered a new resident kit containing valuable information and safety items such as branded Gee-Gees masks and hand sanitizer to each arrival. Each unit also received a starter cleaning kit to help ensure a clean and safe environment. Despite the pandemic, the fall move-in went smoothly.
uOttawa residences expanded into the virtual realm
Residence Life introduced the Virtual Residence experience in September 2020. This new initiative attracted 425 students, 252 being first-year students and the remainder upper year students. Virtual Residence events were attended by 574 students!
First virtual International Get Together
With the COVID-19 pandemic preventing the annual International Get Together on the Tabaret Lawn, the uOttawa Social-Cultural Programming team, in partnership with the International Office, hosted its first ever virtual International Get Together. Over 270 international students from around the world joined the English session live on Zoom and over 160 joined the French session. The games via Zoom turned out to be a great idea, and an interactive map to see exactly where each of us was located in the world gave us an amazing glimpse into the diversity of our student community!
Partnership with The Royal
In October, the University of Ottawa announced a new partnership with the Royal that will allow students to access a virtual psychiatric consultation clinic. This new service, offered via the Ontario Telemedicine Network, is aimed at students not currently connected with a psychiatrist and those who can’t access their own psychiatric service provider, being away from home. It partnership joins the pathways to specialized mental health care services offered by uOttawa Counselling Services.
Profs successfully transition to online learning
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 56% of uOttawa students had never taken an online course. The new reality was an adjustment for both students and professors! Check out these profs who nailed their online courses.
High student participation in online events and opportunities
Despite the challenges that 2020 brought, students were able to develop their professional skills through experiential learning (CO-OP, career development and community engagement). They were also able to meet employers from different industries.
In 2020, 3,707 CO-OP students were placed in work terms related to their field of study, meaning the placement rate stayed above 90%. Students had over 2,100 career development appointments. CO-OP professional development specialists and career counsellors also hosted 111 professional development webinars from mid-March, the 3,916 participants showing that students are interested in preparing themselves for the workplace. Students can also find many resources by chatting with a career mentor at the Career Corner.
But that’s not all! In the fall, 2,279 students in various programs attended 74 virtual employer presentations replacing the usual Fall Career Fairs.
Finally, 5,000 volunteering placements were filled by uOttawa students! With the pandemic, the volunteers helped organizations tailor their services to the web and continue to serve their communities.
It takes a lot of hardworking people to build successes like these and we’d like to thank each and every one for their continuous efforts and dedication.