University Establishes Student Committee for Community First: The CARITAS Commitment


girl walking

Emily Cox Co-Editor-in-Chief

With August 17 on the horizon, the University has assembled a committee of student leaders from all areas of the school to represent the student voice in operations and procedures of the CARITAS Commitment. The new committee of student leaders met for the first time on Wednesday, July 29 via Zoom  to discuss the assembly, purpose, the latest University updates and the next steps for students.

When University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue announced the school’s plan to hold in-person classes in the fall, he also announced the establishment of Community First: The CARITAS Commitment. This campaign serves as a pledge for all Villanovans to modify behaviors to ensure the health and safety of the community. 

Students on the Community First Committee will provide direct student insight and feedback, serve as strong influencers and leaders to facilitate Community First, collaborate with promotion of Community First information, materials and practices and act as liaisons between their various student organizations and administrators. The Community First Committee will be broken down into the following five sub-committees: Academics, Social Media and Engagement, Residence Life, Campus Life and Off-Campus Life.

Twenty-eight different student organizations are represented on the Community First Committee. Student influencers will be representing the following organizations: Student Government Association, Resident Assistants, Inter-Hall Council, Varsity Athletics, Club Sports, Panhellenic Sororities, IFC Fraternities, Multicultural Greek Council, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering, Fitzpatrick College of Nursing, Villanova School of Business, Center for Access, Success and Achievement, Office of Disability Services, ROTC, Music Activities, Office of Intercultural Affairs, New Student Orientation, Office of First and Second Year Initiatives, Student Media Groups, Office of Student Involvement, Campus Activities Team, Special Olympics, NOVAdance, Rays of Sunshine, Blue Key and Admissions, Office of Health Promotion and Campus Ministry. 

Dean of Students Tom DeMarco, Associate Vice President for Student Life Kathy Byrnes, Office of the President Director of Executive and Trustee Communication Katie Fischer, Office of the President Director of Presidential Initiatives and Events Chrissy Quisenberry, Coordinator for Conduct and Community Engagement for the Dean of Students Office Sydney Scheiner and Assistant Dean of Students Nick Tumolo will be overseeing the Community First Committee. 

“Putting community first is essential and will require the entire community,” Assistant Dean of Students Nick Tumolo said. “If we all work together, we can do this.”

The success of Community First relies on community support, promotion and prioritization.

Intentional plans, policies and protocols that support Community First have been established by the school and will be executed in the fall. This includes, but is not limited to, the updated academic calendar, which was released on Monday, adjusting and repurposing campus spaces and rigorous cleaning protocols. Students will also be required to wear face coverings, social distance and follow personal hygiene guidelines. 

Strong education, awareness and strategies which promote Community First have also been established by the University. A student training module is being developed, along with the creation of the ‘Return to Campus’ comprehensive website. Enhancing technology available to administration, faculty and students will be prioritized for the semester. Students will also receive wellness kits upon their return to campus, and signage will be placed on the interior and exterior of all buildings to promote Community First guidelines.

As Dean Tumolo has emphasized, the success of this campaign additionally relies on the buy-in and ownership from every Villanovan to prioritize Community First in his or her daily life.

The group will continue to meet weekly until the beginning of the semester, at which point the Committee and administrators will choose another meeting schedule for the remainder of the semester.