WCSU responds to COVID crisis with support for students, community

Image of a 3-D printer creating medical mask components (photo by Yvonne Ruddy-Stein, APRN, AGN-BC/WCSU/contributed)

DANBURY CT – In response to the Novel Coronavirus, Western Connecticut State University students, faculty and staff have come together to assist the campus and greater communities to find ways to not only cope, but thrive. The university has responded to requests for equipment and use of campus facilities as deemed necessary by the State of Connecticut. Additionally, the WCSU Foundation, Alumni Association and Student Government Association (SGA) have joined together to help provide much-needed financial support to WCSU students for unexpected emergency expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Student Government Association (SGA) met virtually and voted to donate $50,000 to a fund for students who have lost jobs, find themselves without enough food or may need financial assistance in other ways.

Students may apply for these funds by filling out a form at this link.

Paul Horkan, the president of the SGA, said it became clear from student inquiries to SGA senators that many needed financial help as the university shut its residence halls and began teaching classes only online. Many had lost jobs, and in some cases so had family members.

“I was reading through these comments and I realized that at the end of the spring semester our normal expenditure on spring events is about $150,000, on things like the Student Leadership Recognition Banquet, WestFest and smaller events, and none of these things are going to happen,” Horkan said. “We could save some of that money and reinvest it in next year and also invest some in the Colonials Care Student Assistance Fund. So I reached out to the Vice President of Finance, Danny Men, and we brought it up at our meeting. I didn’t know how the senators would react and suggested $25,000, but as the conversation went on, and students thought it was a good idea, the student leadership thought $50,000 would be best.”

Horkan pointed out that the donation is from money gathered from student fees.

“It literally comes from the pocket of students, so it made sense to put it back into their pockets,” he said.

In response to the hardships our students now face, the WCSU Foundation, in concert with the Alumni Association and SGA, has launched the WCSU COVID-19 Call to Action Appeal. John Trentacosta, WCSU Foundation Chairman, said, “We are working to assist WCSU students who are facing unexpected emergency expenses, and your support will help us to address those needs.” Donations can be made at WCSU COVID-19 Call to Action Appeal on the homepage at www.wcsu.edu.

In other initiatives, the Nursing, Health Services and additional university departments gathered personal protective equipment — 550 surgical masks, 400 gloves and 174 isolation gowns — for donation to Danbury Hospital.

And the Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science, with the Office of Information Technology & Innovation, programmed a 3-D printer to manufacture a component used in the assembly of protective face shields for medical personnel. The printer was delivered to St. Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, which made the original inquiry, and another is available for additional hospitals. The effort is part of a statewide project that hopes to build 20,000 face shields in the next several weeks.

By the end of the week, the O’Neill Center on the WCSU Westside campus will be ready to be occupied as a field hospital, housing patients from Danbury Hospital who are recovering from COVID-19 as well as other medical conditions.

The O’Neill Center can house 219 beds, which the National Guard has delivered and set up. The Guard will manage most aspects of the running the building, with Danbury Hospital staff directing medical operations.

WCSU Department of Facilities has readied two residence halls for possible occupancy when the state Department of Administrative Services deems it necessary. More residence halls will be made available as needed.

The university has closed both campuses to students and employees, with all classes being conducted online for the rest of the semester.

For more information, call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

Share This Post