Student mentor Tatum Meijer: ‘Face it together during this challenging academic year'
Every year, student mentors are appointed for first-year students at Leiden University. These mentors help new students with getting started. Tatum Meijer is a student mentor, for the bachelor's programme English. Especially now, in a period of crisis, the role of student mentor is very important.
‘We are a kind of University Google’
As a student mentor, Tatum, together with a fellow student, is responsible for a group of first-years. Once every few weeks they teach mentor classes to their group. ‘During such classes, we explain things that lecturers don't explain, for example how Brightspace works or how to register for courses. We do this because lecturers simply don't have the time to explain stuff like this. We are a kind of university Google.' First-years can contact Tatum or her fellow student with all of their questions. For this year in particular, Tatum did her best to create a close-knit group: 'You lose a lot of the communication with lecturers because of the online lectures, so it's nice to have each other.’
Online scavenger hunt
Usually, the role of student mentor also entails introducing first-year students to each other; this year, of course, that situation is also different. ‘It is a lot more difficult for students to get to know each other. But my group is lucky, they have some classes on campus, where they get to talk to each other', Tatum explains. She organises several things to make sure that first-years get to know each other. ‘We have a group chat, we also have mentor classes with the students on Teams, and we give mini lectures, for example.’ Tatum also organises fun things for her first-years: 'We recently organised an online scavenger hunt and soon we're going to host an online pub quiz.’ The group of students also shows plenty of initiative: they organise, for example, film nights.
Face it together
Physical meetings are not an option for the student mentors and first-years. The first-year students of English do see each other from time to time. ‘The group is divided in two, one half of the students comes one day, the other half comes another day', says Tatum. It thus never happens that the whole group is in Leiden. Despite the fact that the first-years don't see each other often, Tatum wants to tell them that they have to face it together this year. ‘When everything closed, I myself noticed that I could rely on my fellow students. Contact each other if you're struggling with something or if something doesn't work out. It becomes much easier when you can do it together.'