Mason Family Flash

Help Your Student Prepare for a Weather Emergency

Is your student prepared for a weather-related emergency? Whether they live in a residence hall or an off-campus apartment, share these tips with them and make sure they are ready for an emergency — especially if that emergency means a loss of power.

Emergency Items to Keep on Hand

  • Non-perishable food (i.e. canned foods, nuts, dried fruit, protein bars, etc. Include things that don’t need to be heated in case you lose power — tuna packets or peanut butter and crackers are a good option.)
  • Bottled water
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Basic tool kit
  • Extra blankets and warm clothing (a sleeping bag always comes in handy)
  • Back-up power banks for charging electronics
  • Flashlight, headlamp and/or camping lantern with extra batteries. An old-fashioned hand-cranked flashlight is a good idea, too.
  • A supply of any medication they need regularly
  • Hand sanitizer and baby wipes (which can be nice for cleansing; just don’t flush them)
  • Battery-operated transistor radio

It’s also important that your student know how to get information or updates on the situation, whether from Mason or their landlord. Mason has an emergency broadcast system in place called Mason Alert, and your student should make sure they are receiving notifications. Your student can sign you up for the Mason Alert Emergency Notification System at All university MasonLive email accounts are automatically signed up for the Mason Alert system. Students can register phone numbers for emergency text messages through PatriotWeb.

Beyond staying up to date on the situation, it’s crucial that your student know who to contact if they need help whether it be 9-1-1 or a campus emergency number. And if your student is far from home, it’s always a good idea to make sure they have a local contact person they can turn to during a difficult time, whether it’s a family friend, relative or the family member of one of their Mason friends.

Your student can call University Police at (703) 993-2810 or by dialing 9-1-1 from any on-campus phone for emergency situations. In order to reach the Environmental and Safety Office, your student should call (703) 993-8448.

Do Not Venture Out During Unsafe Conditions

In the case of potential flooding from a hurricane or tropical storm, or during an event of extreme snow and cold, your student should take extra precautions and not leave their residence hall or home unless advised that it’s safe to do so. In addition to heeding safety recommendations from Mason, they should tune into severe weather advisories for Northern Virginia.

If Your Student Lives Off Campus

Your off-campus student may need to shoulder a little extra responsibility in emergency situations. It’s possible that they will need to take initiative and contact their landlord and utility company for advice on what to do to keep their house safe. Fortunately, many student leasing companies know the drill and are proactive in providing tips to first-time renters — landlords have an incentive to protect property and appliances from damage, after all.

Here are things your student should not do in an emergency situation, especially if they have lost access to power and water:

  • Don’t use candles as a light source. If you must, make sure not to use too many at once as candles can easily tip over. Pillar candles and candles in glass jars are the most stable. Never leave a lit candle unattended!
  • Don’t play on your phone. It’s tempting to use your electronics as a source of entertainment through the boredom, but it’s much better to conserve your phone’s charge for important communications.
  • Don’t open the fridge or freezer. Both are well insulated and will preserve their temperature for a while as long as you don’t release the cold air. (According to the U.S. FDA, refrigerated food will stay cold for about 4 hours during an outage and the freezer can do its job for 24–48 hours.)
  • Don’t waste water. Apart from clean bottled water for drinking, if you anticipate losing power, make sure to fill your bathtub with water for things like flushing the toilet or washing your hands.
  • Don’t run your car for warmth or power unless you absolutely have to. You may need a full tank of gas later on. Never run the car in the garage!

Keep Tabs on Developing Situations

Sometimes emergencies catch us by surprise but at other times, especially when extreme weather is involved, we may have some advance warning. If your student is aware of a developing situation or simply has a bad feeling about it, they can make sure they are prepared for the worst case scenario. Things like making sure their power banks are fully charged and checking on their supply of candles and food can truly make all the difference.

Originally published in Collegiate Parent

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Mason Family Flash

Mason Strives for an Anti-Racism Community

Mason is home to Virginia’s largest and most diverse student body, and we rank among the most diverse universities in the nation.

That distinction wasn’t built overnight. It comes from our culture of seeing things as they are, accepting challenges, and figuring out how to get the work done.

We have a great foundation in place, but we know we can do more.

Our Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force, created by President Gregory Washington, is taking a hard look at the current state of diversity and inclusivity efforts at the university. It will find answers to such questions as:

  • What systems, practices, or traditions of racial bias exist at Mason? How can we eradicate them?
  • How can we build intentional systems and standards of anti-racism to prevent racial injustices from returning?
  • What can we do to become a local, regional, and national beacon to advance anti-racism, reconciliation, and healing?

The work we do will create a strategy to incorporate change across Mason, in such areas as:

  • Curriculum and Pedagogy
  • Campus and Community Engagement
  • University Policies and Practices
  • Research
  • Training and Development

We’re holding ourselves accountable because we know it’s not enough to set goals—we’re determined to meet the challenge today and in the future.

On Tuesday, February 23 at 2 p.m., there will be an Anti-Racism Inclusive Excellence (ARIE) Town Hall meeting for the Mason community to learn about the initiatives the Task Force has been engaged in over the past semester, as well as provide the opportunity for attendees to ask questions and provide feedback to better the work of the ARIE Task Force. Watch the Town Hall via GMU-TV live stream:

For more information about the ARIE Task Force, visit

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Mason Family Flash

Get to Know Your Student’s Love Language

Do you know your student’s Love Language? Developed by Gary Chapman in 1992, the Love Languages are a way to describe ways that one feels most appreciated or loved. If you aren’t familiar with the 5 languages, you can take the quiz for yourself and then also have your student take it! Learn more and take the quiz today.

The 5 Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. After taking the online quiz, you and your student will see a percentage breakdown of each of the five and how they rank in order of importance to your student. After seeing this breakdown, you can decide how your student might feel most supported based on their love language.

Knowing and understanding your student’s love language can be mutually beneficial for you and your student. If you as a parent or family member can know and understand your student’s top love language, you can focus on showing support that will fulfill that need. For example, if your student’s top love language is Acts of Service, your nightly phone calls might not feel as supportive to them as if you ordered them their weekly grocery list and had it delivered to help take one thing off their to-do list. Below we will outline some ideas of support for each of the 5 Love Languages that will give you some ideas during this season of love!

Words of Affirmation: Your student feels supported and appreciated by words.

  • Write your student an encouraging note or letter.
  • Send your student a supportive text or email. Include a photo of the family pet or of a picture of something that reminds them of home!
  • Collect affirming words from family, friends and other relatives on note cards and put them in a jar for your student. Encourage your student to open the jar and read an encouraging note whenever they are feeling down.
  • When you are on calls or video chats with your student, remind them with your words that you believe in them and you are proud of them. Your words may mean more to them than you realize! (I still have encouraging emails and cards my parents send me throughout college saved on my computer and in a box).

Acts of Service: Your student feels supported more by actions than words.

  • Order your student’s weekly grocery list and have it delivered using Instacart from your favorite grocery store.
  • Does your student dread laundry day? Check out the Speed Queen app to help take that off their weekly to-do list.
  • Is your student’s room or apartment messy and disorganized? Spend a day helping them get organized by shipping them some organization/cleaning supplies, helping them clean things out to be donated or hire a cleaning service to help them get back on track.
  • Does your student have a big test or project coming up? You could help them go over flash cards, allow them to practice a presentation with you, or have your student teach you a concept they learned in class to help test their understanding.

Receiving Gifts: Your student feels the most love when they receive a gift.

  • Check out your student’s wish list on Amazon and see if you can send them a surprise!
  • Looking for something local? Check out Old Town Fairfax and shop local for something your student will love. You could also send them a gift that reminds them of home, and buy gifts from a local store in your hometown!
  • Do they need some Mason Gear? Check out the University Bookstore and get something warm and cozy!
  • Sweet treats are ever sweeter this time of year! Order them something from Crumbl Cookies or Insomnia Cookies and have it delivered right to their door!

Quality Time: Your student feels loved when you give them your full attention and time.

  • Set up a weekly time that works for both you and your student to video chat or call on a consistent basis. The dedicated time that you both spend catching up and filling each other in on what is going on in your lives will help your student feel supported.
  • Buy an outing for your student and a friend to go to the zoo, check out a museum or to do an escape room. Your student will love the quality time they get to spend with their friend.
  • Plan a game night or movie night with your student. This can be virtual or in-person! You can watch in “together” mode on Netflix party, Disney+ and many other platforms. Many games now offer virtual versions such as Codenames and Scattegories. You can also download the app Houseparty to play fun games!

Physical Touch: Your student feels loved with an appropriate touch or affection.

  • When you are able, give your student that extra hug or high-five when you see them in person.
  • When your student first gets home or is getting ready to go back to school, embrace them with a hug or physical affection they prefer.
  • Is your student feeling stressed? Send them a gift card to get a massage! There are many local spas and massage options in the area.

We hope this article helped give you some new ideas for ways to show love and support to your Patriot! If you have additional questions or need support, contact New Student and Family Programs at or (703) 993-2475.

Brie Watterman
Originally written for the University of Colorado Boulder

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Mason Family Flash

Mason Celebrates Black and African Heritage Month

We are excited to share the many wonderful programs and events brought to you by Mason student organizations, departments/units, and academic colleges. Black/African Heritage Month is under the leadership of Student Engagement for Racial Justice within Mason’s Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment.

During the summer of 2020 and presently, we have received an outpouring of support and programmatic ideas that centered Black and African Diasporic Student Communities due to the racial unrest that swept the nation. This February, our University community has created programming that centers and uplifts the wellbeing of Black life on our campus. These programs highlight storytelling, heritage, allyship, reflection, activism, appreciation, history, advocacy, resilience or strength.

This year’s theme, Sankofa – Reaching Back to Better Shape Our Future, was intentionally chosen by students in light of all that our communities have endured globally. “Sankofa” is a metaphorical symbol of a bird with its head turned backwards which originated by the Akan people of Ghana. The word is derived from the words: SAN (return), KO (go), and FA (look, seek, and take). The Akan believe that the past serves as our guide for the future and that there is wisdom in learning from the past to ensure a strong future. As we enter a space of healing, restoration, and a search for peace, it is imperative that we, as a community, use the metaphorical symbol of Sankofa to learn from our past and embrace our history to better shape our future for our current communities and for generations to come.

Mason proudly upholds the celebration of what we call Black/African Heritage Month by hosting annual events that are educational, inspirational, and inclusive of the diversity of the Mason community. Founded by Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the United States began its recognition of black history in 1926 with the celebration of “Negro History Week” The week was initially created to recognize the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, both of which are in February. In 1976, the celebration was expanded to be inclusive of the entire month of February. We are honored to be able to continue to uphold the traditions set forth by those before us.

We are grateful for our many cultural and historically Black student organizations who have crafted and cultivated communities of care for Black life at Mason. Organizations such as the Black, African-Heritage, and Caribbean Coalition, Black Student Alliance, GMU NAACP, Black Justice Association, African Student Association, Anointed Vessels of Unity, Brains Then Beauty, Lights Out, Chase Dreams Not Boys, Women of Color in STEM, GMU QTPOC, National Council of Negro Women, Collegiate Black Men, Caribbean Student Association, Rated R, Lights Out, and all of our Black Greek Lettered Organizations. We admire their resilience and commitment to serving their peers in light of this pandemic and the many social issues impacting their communities.

We hope you will join us the rest of this month and beyond, as this is more than a moment, it is a movement. To access the full Black/African Heritage Month calendar, visit This year’s calendar features virtual movie screenings, mindfulness and wellness workshops, dialogues, panels, and much more!

Crystal Davidson
Assistant Director
Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment

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