Diversity and Community Engagement
The University of Mississippi

Archive for March, 2020

Census Information for Students – Be Counted!

Posted on: March 31st, 2020 by elpayseu
Reposted from University Statement – 3/30/3020
Dear students,  
Your participation is needed! Completing the census is quick, easy and will impact your university community for the next 10 years. We recognize that everyone is facing challenges with COVID-19 right now and that you may be at home, but if you usually spend most of your time on or near campus, you should be counted as part of Mississippi and the Ole Miss community. 
See this blog post that explains further how and where you need to be counted in the U.S. Census. Since most students are not currently on campus or otherwise at school due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, you understandably have questions about how to correctly complete your census questionnaires. Census day is April 1, and while it’s important to be counted by then if at all possible, counting will continue after that date.
In summary, if you “normally” live on campus in group quarters, such as a dorm or a sorority or fraternity house, no action is required on your part. You will be counted by an official such as a residence hall manager at the college or university who will list you as a resident of that group quarters address.  
But, if you are a student who “normally” lives in “non-group quarters” such as an off-campus apartment or house while attending college, you and your roommate(s), including non-students, will need to coordinate with each other to fill out one form (online preferably) for the household using your school address (not your parents’ address or your non-college home address). You should be counted at the address where you live “most of the time.” International students attending college in the U.S. should also fill out a Census form listing their college address.
Go to https://mscensus2020.org/ and click the blue “Complete My Census Now” button on the page. If you have an off-campus apartment, etc. (not group quarters), the U.S. Census Bureau and Mississippi encourage you to complete your census by April 1. You DO NOT need a Census IDsimply skip that step and click If you do not have a Census ID, click here.  Enter your school address for your non-group quarters while at school and list all roommates. Here is an official publication about completing your census without an ID.
Here’s a blog post on the Mississippi Census website written specifically to answer your questions as a college student.  CLICK HERE
Take 10 minutes to answer 10 questions for 10 years of impact.
Thank you!

Ways to Help…Love Local – Visit Oxford

Posted on: March 31st, 2020 by elpayseu

The following update on ways to help is provided by Visit Oxford:

Oxford, MS- March 2020, Visit Oxford has set up a page on its website highlighting
ways that the local community—and beyond—can support Oxford merchants during the
COVID-19 crisis.

In response to the pandemic, the local tourism office has shifted its priorities from marketing Oxford as a tourist destination to coordinating efforts that will help those tourist attractions when they need it the most. Visitors to Oxford spent $177.3 million
last year and tourism is one of the largest sectors of employment in Oxford and Lafayette County supporting 2,260 jobs, or 8.6% of the total jobs in our community.

“We are committed to promoting efforts that will help our tourism partners and their employees during and after the COVID-19 crisis. We depend on them to make Oxford a destination that is special and now they need our support more than ever.” Kinney Ferris Executive Director, Visit Oxford.  While everyone is working from home and practicing social distancing, the question remains: “How can I help?” There are ways to show your support from the comfort of your laptop or smartphone. All of these ideas and more information can be found on the Visit Oxford website by clicking the banner at the top of the homepage, “How to Support
Oxford During COVID-19.”

The hashtag and idea seem simple: Love your local purveyors. But, for many, the problems they face are complex, and the need for your help is dire. Supporting local restaurants or retailers may make the difference in protecting an hourly employee from being laid off or ensuring a utility bill can be paid in full. Those that continue to feed us also need to eat. By ordering a meal with no-contact delivery or making a call to Square Books for a specific book to be picked up curbside, you can do your part—and every little bit helps. A list of restaurants and retailers that are offering curbside or delivery services can be found in the COVID-19 resource page on the Visit Oxford website.

Gift Certificates
USA Today created a website for people around the world to support their local merchants. The website, titled “Support Local,” acts as a database for local businesses to link their website with the option to buy a gift card online. Purchasing a gift card gives the merchant a cash infusion now—when they may desperately need it—for future purchases when the world feels a little more normal and people can enter the merchant’s front doors again.

Tip Roulette
Visit Oxford has signed on with a website that allows consumers to virtually “tip” local bartenders, servers, hostesses and similar workers. The site, serviceindustry.tips, started in Chattanooga, Tenn. as a way to help local hospitality workers, but it quickly grew as more and more cities wanted to get on board. There have been more than 55,000 donations nationwide since its inception. If you are able to contribute, click on the Oxford, MS page at serviceindustry.tips for the opportunity to tip a local hospitality worker with their name and place of employment. You can virtually tip them directly using Venmo or Cash App. The website doesn’t charge a fee, nor does it collect any personal data. The website suggests tipping the first worker that shows up, so everyone gets a turn. Or you can refresh the page to see another name. So far, there are more than 100 hospitality workers in Oxford listed on the site. If you are a local hospitality worker and want to sign up, simply select Oxford, MS as your city, then fill out a simple form to be added to the list.

United Way-LOU COVID-19 Relief Fund
The United Way of Oxford-Lafayette County (UWOLC) has established a COVID-19 fund to help provide short-term relief to individuals and families living in Lafayette County who have been affected by a loss of wages due to COVID-19. The contributions received through the fund will be granted to a nonprofit organization that will provide direct assistance to those impacted on a case-by-case basis. “Lafayette County residents in need receive assistance from local nonprofit organizations on a daily basis,” said UWOLC Executive Director Kurt Brummett. “Our goal is for the COVID-19 fund to supplement existing resources at a time when needs within the LOU community grow at an unprecedented rate.” Donations to the fund can be made online at unitedwayoxfordms.org/covid19, or checks can be mailed to UWOLC, 440 N. Lamar Blvd, Ste 5, Oxford, MS, 38655. Make sure to include COVID-19 in the check memo.

For more information on any of these efforts or other ways to help, please go to the Visit Oxford website at visitoxfordms.com. Updates can also be found on social media by following Visit Oxford on all social platforms using the handle @visitoxfordms. The City
of Oxford will be continuing to update on social media, as well; follow them @cityofoxford on Twitter and Facebook and @cityofoxfordmississippi on Instagram.

Visit Oxford is the City of Oxford’s marketing organization, whose purpose is to bring visitors to Oxford for the economic benefit of the community.

Media contact: Kinney Ferris, Executive Director, Visit Oxford MS, kinney@visitoxfordms.com, 662-401-6264

COVID-19 Update

Posted on: March 30th, 2020 by elpayseu

An Update from the Office of Community Engagement in the
Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi

3/26/2020 – We write to you today with important updates from the Office of Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi. We are excited to share the appointment of Dr. Anthony C. Siracusa as our inaugural Director of Community Engagement, but this excitement is tempered by trepidation amidst the global health crisis we currently face. For many of us, especially our students, the Covid-19 pandemic is the first global public health crisis we have navigated. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) call for social distancing is among the most important things we can do right now to preserve our individual and public health, and following these guidelines in addition to the mandates from our Mayor, Aldermen, State, and Federal Authorities is the number one way we can ‘flatten the curve’ of the coronavirus’ spread.

During this difficult time, the health and safety of our most vulnerable populations are particularly at risk. Being a good citizen means, at this moment, staying at home. But there is more we can do right now to protect our most vulnerable populations, especially as we begin preparations for the challenges that will follow the end of the quarantine. In the recovery that will follow, we want to be especially mindful in ensuring that the most vulnerable people in our communities have the resources they need to recover. This will include providing support to the organizations and agencies who continue to serve the day to day needs of people in the Lafayette/Oxford/University (LOU) community.

Key Takeaways:

  • Being a good citizen means, at this moment, staying at home. But there is more we can do right now to protect our most vulnerable populations, especially as we begin preparations for the challenges that will follow the end of the quarantine.
  • If you are interested in safely helping our community partners through remote community engagement, please sign up on this list and we will be in touch shortly with opportunities. You can also contact us at engaged@olemiss.edu
  • The Office of Community Engagement (OCE) will host “on-line office hours” on Thursday afternoons from 1 – 2:30 p.m. until we can return to the office once we are not operating in mission-critical status. Review the weekly agenda here, and join the meeting here.
  • OCE Staff are available for one on one advising. Send a message to engaged@olemiss.edu if you’d like to set up a time to talk digitally with our staff.

How Can We Support the LOU Community?
Staff in the Office of Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi are currently calling each and every one of our more than 60 community partners to ask what needs they are facing now and what needs they may anticipate in the future. If you are interested in safely helping our community partners through remote community engagement, please sign up on this list and we will be in touch shortly with opportunities.

How Can We Connect with the Office of Community Engagement?
The call for quarantine and social distancing seem to run contrary to our basic human impulse to be in community – to be together in work, in leisure, in worship, and in so many other ways.  As classes at the University of Mississippi move on-line, the Office of Community Engagement will host “on-line office hours” on Thursday afternoons from 1 – 2:30 p.m. until further notice. You don’t need to sign up to attend these on-line office hours, but feel free to follow this link to let us know you plan to attend and share any questions you may have. You can join the weekly office hours here. We will provide any updates from 1 – 1:15 p.m., and then have open conversation and discussion for the remainder of the time.

How Can We Continue to Build Community During a Time of Social Isolation?
The unavoidable disruptions from the coronavirus have heightened stresses for UM students, instructors, and families, meaning that the creation of a mutually supportive and uplifting learning community is more critical now than ever before. In this moment, ensuring our personal and emotional well being is as important as ever. In addition to signing up above to help our nonprofits and community partners, you can review these resources developed by colleagues at colleges and universities around the country that provide guidance on safe ways to stay connected in meaningful ways to groups and organizations that still need our time, talent, and treasure. Many of these suggestions are geared at interacting in digital spaces, and the core commitments of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi – maintaining mutual respect, building inclusive environments, and practicing interpersonal responsibility – remain essential practices in these online interactions.You will also find some information about personal practices that you might use to maintain your mental and emotional health in a stressful time. Our colleagues in Wellness Education at UM have created a page with resources for maintaining wellness during this time.

The Good News
We will get through this together and we will be stronger on the other side – but how we respond during this time matters so very much. Please consider signing up to safely and remotely assist a community partner as we prioritize the health and well being of our most vulnerable populations, attend our weekly office hours to stay connected, or perhaps review the resources we shared above for maintaining individual and collective wellness during a period of social distancing. We want to encourage you to continue building new relationships and sustaining existing relationships by engaging with individuals and communities beyond the campus in safe ways.

The good news here is that we still have the ability to build relationships and make important contributions even amidst the critical need to maintain a safe physical distance from others. One of the good things that has come out of this season is neighbors helping neighbors and rediscovering community. We see people volunteering to meet needs, to care for the most vulnerable, sacrificing for others. You also see creative energy around the development of ideas and resources for parents to use with their children in the absence of school; creative ways to engage the arts; creative business models that have adapted to meet needs.

I hope we will continue to build and sustain important relationships and continue our community engaged work even as we take every precaution to protect each other. These relationships and this work is critical because it builds hope, whether in a zoom meeting with a friend or colleague or through a remote work product for an organization we care about. And this hope is the seedbed of the more just world we all seek, the world we must continue to strive for – especially amidst our current challenging circumstances.

We look forward to visiting in person with many of you once we are on the other side of this challenging time.  Until then, take care of yourselves and each other – and know that we here in Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi will do everything we can to support you.


The Office of Community Engagement in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Mississippi

Anthony C. Siracusa, Director of the Office of Community Engagement

Erin Payseur-Oeth, Project Manager in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DCE)

Carissa Pauley, Graduate Assistant DCE

Cade Smith, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Community Engagement DCE