The Jaguarettes dance team is asking students, staff, organizations and faculty of Texas A&M University-San Antonio to give “Virtual Hugs” on social media to members of the campus community.
With classes being held online as of March 23 and social distancing being enforced because of COVID-19, the dance team thought of a way to spread love throughout the Jaguar community.
Courtney Bobb-Meilinger, Jaguarettes head coach and communications lecturer, said the “Virtual Hug Challenge” was created after the team watched a virtual town hall meeting hosted by the office of the president March 19. The meeting covered the university’s transition to online courses and events around campus.
“One of the girls mentioned that this is an extremely hard time and just longed for everything to go back to normal,” Bobb-Meilinger said. “So I sent out a message of support with a hug. It was then another one of the girls said, ‘You mean a virtual hug, of course.’”
The “Virtual Hug Challenge” started March 21, and the Jaguarettes are hoping it will continue long as students want a hug.
Bobb-Meilinger said the mission of the “Virtual Hug Challenge” is to spread hope, inspire and uplift the student body, faculty and staff through this difficult time.
“We are living in a different world than we were just a few weeks ago,” Bobb-Meilinger said. “The sudden change to our everyday routines and the limited ability to physically interact with others can be described to some as a shock to one’s system. A simple gesture of a hug, or in this case a virtual hug, lets our Jaguar community know that ‘we are still here’ and we can do anything together although the circumstances of togetherness may be from afar.”
Bobb-Meilinger outlined the steps to participate:
- Create a social media post that includes a message of solidarity or support. The post should include your name, classification and major.
- Tag a peer, faculty, club, organization or staff member to share a virtual hug and challenge or nominate them to do the same.
- Include the @am_sa_jaguarettes Instagram handle and #HugAJaguar or #JaguarPrideHug in the post.
Since the dance team started the challenge, groups such as the A&M-San Antonio men’s basketball team and the University of North Texas dance team have sent out virtual hugs.
Bobb-Meilinger said she knows students are struggling with coursework being moved online, which motivates her to work harder to put their concerns at ease.
“I wake up in the morning and take a deep sigh and realize that I won’t be walking through the SciTech doors to my classroom to greet my students,” Bobb-Meilinger said. “It’s hard to know that for now.”
“First and foremost, my heart aches for our students,” Bobb-Meilinger said. “I know that this change will be challenging for them. But my job as an educator and my calling as a teacher is to see our students through anything”.
For more information about the Jaguarettes, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the team’s jagsync page at https://jagsync.tamusa.edu/organization/dance-team.