4/3: Social Distancing Must Not Mean Emotional Distancing

April 3, 2020

Dear Trojan Community,

We now find ourselves in an unprecedented moment of uncertainty and anxiety as we collectively navigate a global pandemic and its profound implications for our lives and our community.

During turbulent times, it can be comforting to imagine our university as not only a scholarly community but a spiritual one, too. Through campus traditions, rituals and rites-of-passage that are handed down across generations, we connect to a reality that is greater than ourselves, and through our teaching, research and creative pursuits, we explore and interrogate the ultimate questions of meaning and purpose. In doing so, we meet each other, grow alongside each other and develop loving relationships with each other that last a lifetime.

That is why it is essential that we not only take our curriculum online, but also our community online. Indeed, over the past few days, hundreds of Trojans have enrolled for online Mindful USC classes and other virtual ways to connect and seek self-care, such as pastoral counseling and virtual drop-in groups.

As dean of religious and spiritual life, my hope and prayer for all of you is that in the midst of this storm, you carve out a moment for contemplation, introspection and reflection and reconnect with the people and tribes you love most. Please remember that social distancing must not mean emotional distancing, and that as members of a global Trojan Family, we are not isolated beings, but deeply connected to one another across space and time.

Although the message that I want our community to take away from this letter is that we will get through this together, we also need to be resilient as we anticipate we will encounter even more trauma moving forward as a result of the novel coronavirus.

In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to update you about other opportunities to stay connected with each other and with the larger campus community. Please join us.

We look forward to a not-so-distant future when we all physically gather again on campus together to memorialize what we’ve been through as a community and to reaffirm our shared hopes, dreams and values as Trojans.

Until we meet again, please take good care of yourselves and each other, and please continue to fight on, together.

Every blessing,

Varun Soni, Ph.D.
Vice Provost, Office of Campus Wellness and Crisis Intervention
Dean, Office of Religious and Spiritual Life

I encourage you to reach out and take advantage of the many resources we have for ensuring our emotional and spiritual health.

The COVID-19 Hotline: 213-740-6291 or email: covid19@usc.edu and additional answers to questions on what to do next are available on the COVID-19 website: usc.edu/coronavirus.

For online meditation, spiritual care and pastoral counseling, visit the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life: orsl.usc.edu

For online Mindful USC classes, visit mindful.usc.edu/classes

For counseling for students, visit studenthealth.usc.edu/counseling and studenthealth.usc.edu. Counselors at USC Student Health’s Counseling and Mental Health Services are available 24 hours a day at 213-740-9355 (WELL). Telehealth appointments (medical and mental health) are available to all students in the state of California. All in-person visits must be prearranged by phone or through usc.edu/myshr.

If you are concerned about the well-being of a fellow student or colleague, please let us know through Trojans Care 4 Trojans so we may reach out directly with support and intervention.

Further support is available from the Office of Campus Support and Intervention at uscsupport@usc.edu or 213-740-0411.

For virtual engagement opportunities for students to learn and interact, visit studentaffairs.usc.edu/student-life-virtual-resources.

For staff and faculty counseling, visit employees.usc.edu/work-family-life. Staff and faculty support is available 24 hours a day from the Center for Work and Family Life, USC’s employee assistance program, at 213-821-0800 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and after hours at 213-590-8045.

If you are experiencing a conflict or challenging situation at USC and need confidential advice or mediation, contact the Office of the Ombuds at 213-821-9556 or upcombuds@usc.edu or hscombuds@usc.edu.

To see a few examples of how our fellow Trojans are coming together during these challenging times, check out these stories about our USC heroes.