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Building community one TikTok challenge at a time

Suddenly moving home last March when campus closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and being away from friends was difficult for students, but it was also a jarring transition for faculty and staff.

It was especially difficult for Dean of Students Cassy Bailey, who is known for her close connection with students. Missing those relationships, Bailey took to social media to try to safely maintain contact with the newly far-flung Baker community.

“I genuinely was hurting. This was a very painful experience for us all, and not to be standing in arms with our students is really difficult for me. So, if it meant getting up on my coffee table and recording funny videos for social media, that’s the way I wanted to do it,” Bailey said.

With the help of her daughter, Emma, who was home because her college campus had closed, Bailey created posts to let students know she was available as a resource for them and to help them stay engaged with each other and with Baker. She also got a few laughs along the way.

“It didn’t matter if it was one student, 10 students, or 100 students. For one person to say to me that this really was helpful was what I needed.”

Dr. Cassy Bailey, dean of students

One upside of Bailey’s foray into social media is that she developed relationships with students she otherwise would not have. Some of the students that interacted with her on social media were students she had previously had very limited interaction with on campus.

“There were students that I knew, but I didn’t know and I got to know them,” Bailey said.

Senior Lindsey Rindt already had a strong relationship with Bailey, but it grew even stronger during Bailey’s social media campaign. Rindt believes that Bailey’s willingness to dive into an unfamiliar form of communication illustrates how seriously she takes her responsibility to create an environment where students feel connected and supported.

“Now I truly know that [Dean Bailey] loves her job, and her main goal is to help us students here at Baker,” Rindt said.

After students returned to campus this fall, Bailey’s focus has switched back to in-person student interactions, and her time is spent developing and promoting procedures that allow students to live and study together safely. Although her social media presence has taken a pause, don’t be surprised if you see her on TikTok or Instagram hanging out with WOWzer in the near future.

Written by Halle Morrell, Marketing & Communications Intern

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