Smiling man walking up stairs
Pat Kelly, associate director, residence life

Instead of a knock at their door, new University of Guelph students can expect a friendly phone call or online chat invite as part of this year’s House Calls program.

Run by U of G’s Student Housing Services, the unique program involves a large team of volunteers who typically go door-to-door visiting new students living in campus residences. They check in to see how students’ transition to university is going and let them know about help that is available to ensure their well-being and academic success.

Given current COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s program will happen from a distance.

“I feel that this year, of all years, an initiative like this is extremely important,” said Patrick Kelly, associate director of residence life at U of G. “In a time where making personal connections is more difficult than ever, this type of outreach can go a long way in demonstrating to students that they are part of the University of Guelph community no matter where they reside.”

From Oct. 27 to 29, all first-year students will receive a Microsoft Teams or telephone check-in call from a University faculty or staff volunteer.

Those who can’t be reached will receive an email outlining the resources and supports available to them and an invitation to meet with a staff member if desired.

“Students this year have not had the opportunity to interact on a personal level with staff and faculty here at the University, and this is an opportunity to actively show our students that we care about them and want to see them succeed,” Kelly said. “I believe it will provide a wonderful chance for students to share how they are doing and to talk about some of the challenges they have worked through this year.”

In a typical year, about 80 faculty and staff members sign up for the initiative. Student Housing is still looking for volunteers to sign up at House Calls Volunteer Form by 4p.m. on Oct. 19.

Each volunteer will receive a list of students to call throughout their preferred day. A brief orientation/training session will be available to volunteers.

Patrick Kelly