Student Life Newsletter

February 2016

We're enjoying wonderful Santa Barbara weather this "winter," and seeing more students out and about as a result. This newsletter includes happenings on campus so far this semester and a few things to look forward to in the next month.

Thank you for walking alongside our students in the midst of a busy season. We know that students get heavily involved in events, like Spring Sing. With the weather being so great for outdoor activities during Spring semester, we know that they appreciate our prayers and support as well as encouragement to be mindful of their academic responsibilities and assignments. You can always contact us if you have concerns for a student or questions about anything happening in student life.

If you have concerns for a student, contact us.


You likely know that many of our students experience emotional difficulties during their time on campus. Many times we don't know what they're facing in their personal lives or at home. Sometimes they tell us and sometimes their behavior gives us an indication of what is going on. However we find out about a student's emotional pain, we have an opportunity to support them and help them access the resources they need. Dr. Eric Nelson offers some great advice on responding to students in distress. Take a look at what he has written and keep it handy for reference. If you need or want more guidance in responding to a student who is struggling, you can always call our office at 565-6028 or contact Eric in Counseling Services at or 565-6003.


  • Little Parishes
    Last year, Dr. Edee Schulze and Heather Bergthold created a “parish” in chapel by sitting in the same location each time and getting to know students around them, who tend to sit in the same place. This practice helped Edee and Heather meet and encourage students informally. They hope that establishing more little parishes will allow students to connect spiritually with faculty and staff. The Campus Pastor’s Office is recruiting faculty and staff to help pastor these “little chapel parishes” and encourages anyone who is interested to contact Ben Patterson at

  • Four-Year Residential Experience and Mixed-Class Halls
    When the new residence hall opens in fall 2017, Student Life will introduce two exciting developments for students: a four-year residential experience and mixed-class halls. To ensure a smooth transition, Residence Life staff have begun identifying necessary adjustments to current programs and services. They are working with Economics and Business Instructor Paul Bradford and students in his marketing class to help identify student concerns and support for four-year residency on campus and mixed-class halls. The new residence hall will offer the convenience of living on campus with the independence of an off-campus residence and bring together students who have studied overseas and serve in leadership positions. Residents will cook their own meals in spacious, well-equipped kitchens, and their bathrooms will be attached to their rooms. With the new residence hall building projected to be online by Fall 2017 we will be able to live more fully the residential plank of our mission statement as most students will live on campus. Student Life believes mixed-class halls will provide more opportunities to build community and encourage mentoring among students while providing greater flexibility in using all available space on campus.

  • Focus Week
    Faith and Politics Focus Week, held during the first week of February, provided opportunities for the Westmont community to engage in important dialogue regarding the intersection of our faith and politics. View a full schedule of the week.

  • Westmont Activities Council (WAC)
    The Westmont Activities Council (WAC) jumped right into the spring semester and welcomed students back on the first weekend with a packed Java and Jazz event featuring a student jazz ensemble, McConnell’s ice cream and made-to-order espresso. Cupcakes and Clubs provided an opportunity to ingest additional sugar as students perused opportunities to get involved while munching on delicious cupcakes.

  • The President’s Ball
    The President’s Ball provided an outlet for nearly 600 students to decompress as they danced to an 18-piece, live swing band, took red-carpet photos with the president, and cheered for the annual dance competition.

  • Spring Sing
    On January 28, 500 students flocked to the gym to kick off the Spring Sing season and learn the theme for the 55th annual event: “And Also with You.” Scheduled for March 12, 2016, at the Santa Barbara Bowl, this year’s Spring Sing will continue the tradition of memorable performances. Tickets are now on sale. Spring Sing information.

  • Spring Sing returns to the Santa Barbara Bowl March 12

  • Spring Break Opportunities for Students and Staff
    We invite faculty and staff to join students on one of the yearly spring-break mission trips March 19-25. Urban Initiative will lead Spring Break in the City in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Salt Lake City, where they will engage urban populations by joining with our partners in their unique ministries. Potter’s Clay will travel to Ensenada, Mexico, to work with La Gran Comision, a local, mission-minded church, and a network of churches that extends city-wide to minister through medical/dental clinics, sports tournaments, VBS, mobile salons and construction projects.

    Participation from faculty and staff helps strengthen the relationships with our brothers and sisters doing ministry and with students on these trips. Consider joining this exciting work for the kingdom.

    The Staff Handbook chapter 8.21 encourages employees to join students in these ministries under certain guidelines. Please review the handbook for more information. To learn more, please contact Andy Wood at

    To register, please click on the name of the trip you would like to attend: Potter's Clay (please check the “non-student login” box), Spring Break in the City LA, SF, SLC, or Spring Break in the City SB.

  • The Next Step
    At Intercultural Program’s (ICP) fourth annual spring workshop Saturday, January 16, 2016, during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, 74 students and staff members explored the topic, “Facing Race.” Sociology professor Dr. Meredith Whitnah and ICP Director Jason Cha led the workshop, which explored racial identity through interactive exercises and small-group discussions. The workshop challenged attendees to carry on the legacy of Dr. King through dialogue, critical consciousness, and increased self-awareness as a racially diverse community and the body of Christ.

  • Attendees of 'The Next Step' workshop

  • Santa Barbara Mission Conference
    Several students involved with ICP attended the 14th annual Santa Barbara Mission Conference January 22-23, 2016. Participants heard talks by Dr. Soong Chan Rah and Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil on the topic “Reconciling All Things.” The conference emphasized the changing face of the church and the call to be a multi-ethnic community. Workshops addressed the topics of reconciliation, advocacy, missions and ministry. ICP Director Jason Cha moderated a panel with Dr. Rah, Dr. Salter McNeil, and Professor Larry Thiel to close the conference.

  • 14th annual Santa Barbara Mission Conference January 22-23, 2016

  • Early Alert
    While the Student Care Team, under the guidance of Stu Cleek, has monitored students who show signs of struggle (behavioral, social, chapel attendance, learning disabilities, etc.), we have not developed a formal process to similarly support students who struggle academically. Last semester, Student Life worked with Academic Affairs after mid-term grades came out to focus on finding ways to support academically at-risk students. This combined effort helped staff and faculty to begin determining the levels of need and identifying ways to support students. This semester Student Life continues to work with Academic Affairs in the following ways:

  • Provost Mark Sargent will work with faculty from the Religious Studies and History departments to determine the most effective ways to enhance academic support for students in large general education (GE) courses.
  • After receiving reports from faculty, Student Life staff will follow up with first-year students whose attendance record might put them at risk for low grades to explore pilot programs to encourage more deliberate attendance-taking in large GE courses.
  • During spring semester, the Student Life Care Team will consider ways to expand its role to include responding to students with academic struggles. Patti Hunter and Stu Cleek will work together on this issue.
  • Patti Hunter will work with the library staff and some faculty to develop a Reading Corner program to support instruction in reading skills, a need specifically mentioned by several faculty.
  • Student Life Vice President Edee Schulze and the Student Life staff will explore purchasing additional modules for the online system for tracking student concerns that would help promote more substantive engagement with faculty and partnerships across departments working with students at risk.

  • At the Table
    This program, begun during the fall semester at the Martin Institute and Dallas Willard Center, features weekly gatherings of four to six students and faculty or staff hosts for dinner at the Willard Center. At the Table seeks to foster conversations exploring our faith and life with God. Staff in Residence Life, the Campus Pastor’s Office and Student Life support this initiative. For more information, watch this video or contact Kirsten Burdick at

Upcoming Events

  • Westmont Conversation on Race
    Dr. Keith Brooks of Chosen Path LLC will join us February 25, 2016, for an evening presentation and conversation about racial tensions on college and university campuses in the United States. He will bring an historical perspective and thoughtful observations about the difficulty and hope embedded in moving forward. Look for more details in upcoming announcements.