Notes from the Student Meeting, March 16, 2020
Meeting held with Dr. Leslie Willey, Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Dr. Dianne Lynch, President
*Dr. Willey opened the forum before opening the floor to student questions.
This is not a decision any one of us wanted to make but this is in the best interest of the health and welfare of your families and all of our Stephens family that we make this move. Virtually most every college and university, and now even public schools, are going to be closed for a while. We really believe this is the best decision to make. From my perspective, we’re going on an adventure.
We’re going to have our classes online but do it a little different than everyone else. Our classes will be in real-time, so it will feel, hopefully, more like a real class. You’ll have interaction with your faculty and interaction with each other. I’m asking for your patience as this is new for all of us, especially for a lot of our faculty. It will be a first time for some of our faculty to have done this kind of venture. And they will be very patient with you. We know there will be hiccups along the way. We have our IT department ready to help in any way that we can. We’re planning to start our online classes on Wednesday, March 18; we know some of you will still be traveling on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. We’ll be lenient in terms of attendance and participation. Then, we’ll have our spring break and then come back online for a couple more weeks.
What questions are biggest on your mind?
With new recommendations from the Missouri governor, and the country, to close for eight weeks, are you changing your timeline?
As you know, this is an ever-evolving situation and it’s changing rapidly. We are paying close attention to CDC guidelines and from the State of Missouri. We have a team who assesses where we are each morning at 8 a.m. We’re still planning to close, and have online classes from March 18-20, have spring break and then reopen with online classes on March 30-April 10. As that changes, we’ll keep you updated.
We’re asking you to check our Stephens Alert page (https://www.stephens.edu/about-stephens/alert) constantly.
- Making it easier to find on the website.
- New information is being added all the time, even if it’s to say we’re maintaining our status.
- You will know immediately if our decision changes. But we want to be thoughtful about any decisions – Some schools are just deciding they’re closing. But we don’t want to just do that. We will make decisions with plenty of time to travel or come back. But we don’t want to be too rash, or make the decision too early. If we can reopen, that’s what we’d love to do.
For students who live out of state in high report areas, will they be quarantined upon returning to classes?
Absolutely, but know that we are committed to you completing this semester. We know a lot more today than last Wednesday. We realize there are different scenarios and it will depend on what we know then.
What about students who have no internet access?
We understand technology and software challenges.
- We are gathering all the possible resources (cell phone and service providers) that we can to share with you.
- If you have any difficulty, please contact us.
- We understand this will not be a smooth process for everybody. Report internet access issues to Student Development.
What about SFI (and other hands-on programs)?
Right now, we’re confident that we’re going to have SFI (it’s scheduled to start on May 11) and other summer programs. If we have to make other decisions, we will let you know then.
What about reimbursement?
If you are out of state and can’t come back, we’ll find a way to make sure you finish your semester. If you’re having any trouble, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Trish Parsons (email@example.com), or our deans. We will get you the help you need to work through any issues and make sure you finish your semester.
Adjustments, in terms of Room and Board, will be made at the end of the semester. We have a plan but we don’t know for sure. We are committed to being fair.
Is Zoom mandatory?
We are exploring other avenues like phone and free data services. Report to Student Development any issues you have and how we can help solve them. Webcams are helpful but you don’t have to have one; you can still participate by talking.
For students who can’t return to campus after spring break, what about the stuff they leave behind in the dorms?
Take home what you can, and pack up what remains in your room. When we come back, it will be easier for us because we’ll be cleaning your rooms.
We will do everything we can. If you come back for Commencement (we will be holding it), you can get your stuff then. If you can’t come back, we’ll be in touch and either ship your stuff to you or store it for you, whatever makes the most sense for you. This is an extraordinary situation and we will provide you with extraordinary services.
Students can’t have guests in the dorms, but Admissions still has their tours?
This was the last major campus tour for some time. We understand that frustration.
Stephens’ research opportunities are contingent on living on campus this summer. Will this be possible?
Today, I would say yes internships will be possible, but things are changing rapidly.
Will students be able to be back on campus for the summer?
We continue to be optimistic given local and state measures that are underway. Locally, you will be able to get tested.
When will the latest be that we are coming back to campus?
Some of these decisions are not ours to make given that the state and local authorities do have the power to suspend classes, etc. As soon as it is clear, we will let you know but we just don’t know. The virus is moving but soon it will be in all areas and communities, so it may very well be that where you are coming from won’t matter. If we can’t come back on April 13, then it probably won’t be for the rest of the semester.
What about jobs?
Come see Accounting or Office of the President. Many local jobs are also closing and it’s going to impact everyone.
Why is Mizzou staying and not Stephens?
Our decision has to do with traveling and we want to protect you. With tens of thousands of students, Mizzou can’t promise to take care of your stuff like we are doing. They are strongly encouraging students to go home. Mizzou has all classes online. Columbia College has said it is over. We decided to be incremental. This is a national pandemic. You may not get the virus but could be a carrier and infect others.
What about testing online the first week?
Faculty are available and here for you. They are very understanding, so talk to your faculty member or dean.
What are we doing next semester?
The housing lottery has been postponed. We will work on a new process that will be after April 13 when we are back. Check the Stephens Alert page (https://www.stephens.edu/about-stephens/alert) for updates.
Will I still receive my student-athlete scholarship?
Yes, all student-athletes will get their scholarships.
What about campus committees?
If you are on a committee, they will contact you to Zoom in.
Senior Showcase Announcement
President Lynch announced a Senior Showcase Day to be held the day before Commencement, whenever that might be. It will be a showcase of student work (fashion, film, capstones, research papers, etc.) collectively together with friends and family. Those plans will be forthcoming.