Pen pal program brings people together during COVID-19

Michael Stella

Graphic illustration of the ASCSU senate chambers at Colorado State University. Text states "ASCSU Coverage"
(Graphic Illustration by Christine Moore-Bonbright | The Collegian)


To help combat loneliness at Colorado State University, the Associated Students of CSU created the CSU Pen Pal Program for CSU students and those living in the Good Samaritan Society retirement village.  

The ASCSU Pen Pal Program is a pilot program that was created in partnership with the Student Leadership, Involvement and Community Engagement office and the Office of the President. 

Ad

Cinque Mason, the current intern for the Office of the President, was working on creating a pen pal program to connect CSU students with other CSU students while ASCSU Director of University Affairs McKenna Daly was working on a pen pal program to connect CSU students with members of a local retirement home. The two decided to collaborate and create the program as it is now.

Through the Pen Pal Program, Mason and Daly hope to build community and bring people together.

“Having grandparents of my own, I kind of just feel for that community,” Daly said.

Students who signed up to be part of the program had to attend a meeting Feb. 27. After the meeting, they were assigned a pen pal at the Good Samaritan Society. People from the retirement home were selected on a volunteer basis, Daly said. 

We needed more of a connection that is not technology-based,” -Cinque Mason, intern at the Office of the President

Recognizing that students may not have access to necessary materials, funding from ASCSU was used to provide participating students with stamps and envelopes. These materials were available for pick up in the ASCSU office, Daly said. 

“The funding for the program came from ASCSU,” Daly said. “The funding that we use is intended to return to the students and is intended to benefit them.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced people to communicate more through technology than usual. 

“We needed more of a connection that is not technology-based,” Mason said.

Mason, who is a communication studies major, said that communication through writing is much different than texting. 

“When you look at communication, a letter, the type of paper, the envelope, the font, how they write, has a much deeper symbology compared to a text message,” Mason said.

Ad

There are currently 120 students participating in the program, Mason said. There is no definitive time for when students and their pen pals will stop writing to each other, but Daly hopes in the fall semester there can be an event in which students and their pen pals meet in person. As for having the program next year, it is not a given, but it is likely, Daly said.

“This was kind of a pilot program and a trial run for it, and it has been pretty successful, but I think it would be fun to grow,” Daly said. 

Michael Stella can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @michaelstella_.