Colgate University students will kick off the fall 2020 semester in a campuswide quarantine. It’s an unprecedented step during an extraordinary time, with three dozen states listed under New York State’s COVID-19 travel advisory.
For weeks, University faculty and staff members have been working on every aspect of the quarantine — even as they address the complex demands surrounding the remainder of the semester. Changes to life on campus required by responsible safeguards against the pandemic will be significant and wide ranging, and they will require collaboration among all members of the campus community.
All of this is part of an extensive effort addressing the economic, physical, emotional, and intellectual health of an entire student body. Steps taken to support Colgate students include:
Increased Financial Aid: Colgate increased its financial aid budget by $1 million for the fall semester to address the needs of students whose fiscal situations have changed as a result of the pandemic.
Work Study: Colgate has also replaced work-study awards with grant aid for students who have determined that they should learn remotely this semester, and the University is creating new work-study opportunities on campus to replace student jobs that do not make sense in the context of the ongoing pandemic.
Student Belongings: Students who left their belongings in their rooms during a hurried departure from campus last spring will find those possessions waiting for them in their fall 2020 residences. Athletics department (PERA) staff members have spent weeks gathering and moving thousands of items out of storage.
Welcoming Students to Campus: Campus safety staff have assembled 3,000 welcome bags, each containing two Colgate face coverings, a bottle of hand sanitizer, and a 3D-printed device that allows for touchless entry into many campus buildings. Bags will be distributed as students check in and sign up for their first round of on-campus COVID-19 testing. Snacks and water will be present in residence halls on arrival day.
Food and Food Deliveries: Meanwhile, dining services will begin to assemble meals, which will be delivered daily by University staff so that students can maintain their quarantine according to state guidance. During that two-week period, staff members will take on more than 2,800 shifts. The University is also partnering with the Village of Hamilton to formulate lists of local businesses that will deliver food and products to student residences.
Bookstore Deliveries: The Colgate Bookstore is also making deliveries, with support from PERA and other staff. Textbooks and school supplies ordered in advance will be placed in residence hall rooms prior to student arrival so that undergraduates will be ready for coursework when it begins on Aug. 27.
Counseling Services: Colgate’s counseling center is preparing to support students in quarantine in many of the same ways that it deployed during remote instruction last semester. Telehealth appointments will be available for undergraduates as they navigate the first two weeks of life on campus — and beyond. Individual and group therapy sessions will be available, and staff members will be taking proactive steps to publicize tips for managing the emotional ups and downs that everyone can expect to encounter during those challenging days between Aug. 23 and Sept. 8.
Connections to Colgate Alumni: While undergraduates in quarantine will have plenty of schoolwork, they will also have the chance to make new connections with alumni, thanks to a series of events created in partnerships between the Office of Alumni Relations, the Dean of the College Division, and the Alumni Council. Building on events that have already taken place this summer, Colgate grads will offer insights derived from their work across various industries — from entertainment (producing and creating unscripted TV) to politics (insights into the upcoming election). The council will also co-host informal virtual dinners that foster more philosophical conversation on topics like courage and resilience.
All classes, even those that will have a live component after the campuswide quarantine, will be remote for the first two weeks. “Students will begin this year with an immersive academic experience,” said Lesleigh Cushing, Murray W. and Mildred K. Finard Professor in Jewish studies, professor of religion, and associate dean of the faculty for faculty recruitment and development. “Faculty will focus on building intellectual community in their courses even as students are learning from their rooms, and the academic work for those initial weeks will be designed with the students’ quarantine context in mind.”
On arrival days, employees will be out in force, coordinating traffic flow onto campus, facilitating the check-in process, moving possessions up the hill, greeting and registering students who are beginning the on-campus COVID-19 testing protocol, and much more.
Departments across campus are coordinating plans to ensure that all students have safe access to the outdoors during their time in quarantine. Each residence hall has an identified, dedicated outdoor space, and each wing will have access on a preset schedule. Those in residences that do not have nearby green space, such as houses on Broad Street for upper-level students, will be brought up the hill in Colgate Cruisers reserved for the effort.
As President Brian W. Casey told students in a recent town hall meeting, “We think that being together on a campus, even an altered campus, is a part of your education and development. Colgate, in 200 years, has never tried to do what we are about to try to do. You have never done what we are asking you to do. This will be something you can look back on — hopefully with pride. We face extreme and daunting odds, but we are a team.”