‘Hand Raise’ Puts Help Within Reach

September 23, 2023

Eastern Washington University is putting game-changing assistance within ready reach for students who encounter difficult times.

A feature called Hand Raise is a new addition to the popular Navigate Student app to give Eagles a convenient way to ‘raise a hand’ to ask for assistance.

“Help is just right at your fingertips. It’s there. You just have to use it,” says Jossie Brown, assistant director of the Degree Completion Team.

Hand Raise, launched last spring, is a collaboration with EWU’s Program Leading to University Success (PLUS), Student Accommodations and Support Services (SASS), and the Degree Completion Team. After ongoing meetings and research into the most common needs of students at Eastern, the team came up with the five categories of assistance.

“We tried to just kind of hone it down to what we thought students most often need help with,” Brown says.

Here’s how it works: Using a cell phone or computer, students can access the Navigate Student app., select Hand Raise from the pull-down menu and choose from the following options:

  • I need help with a class/tutoring
  • I need to declare or change my major
  • I need help with housing, food, or clothing
  • I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed
  • I need to report bullying, discrimination, or misconduct

Hand Raise generates an email or direct student outreach that ultimately connects students with the help they need.

For instance, students requesting help with basic needs, tutoring, or changing their major will receive a list of specific campus and community resources. Those who reach out with extreme stress are directed to an intake form that connects them to a case manager and outreach from SASS.

“Our students are experiencing so much that having a case manager really helps,” Brown says. “Maybe they’ve had a death in the family, and they need somebody to advocate for more time to complete work in their classes, SASS can help with that.”

In instances that bullying, discrimination or misconduct are reported, direct student support can ensure the student gets their needs met and help guide the student in the reporting process.

Hand Raise is an expansion of the Early Warning System which utilizes faculty progress reports and staff alerts to identify those needing assistance. Students receive outreach from campus services best aligned to support the student. Brown says students who respond to that outreach and accept the help are 25-30 percent more likely to stay on track academically.

Brown hopes that Hand Raise will empower students to request help “sooner rather than later” and well before issues becomes insurmountable and threaten their path to a degree and a bright future.

As Brown reaches out to students through tabling events and other activities, she tells them to be unafraid to reach out. “We all need help sometimes’” she says. “The resources are available to you. We all want to see students succeed, that is our common goal.”