Message from Campus Life and Student Success
In a message to the university community on Wednesday, Aug. 26, Lua Hancock, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Success addressed some of the issues facing students as the university juggles positive COVID-19 tests and the need to self-isolate students. The message covered multiple areas, and links have been provided below.
Dear beloved staff colleagues-
The fall is under way, and we are learning a lot about our COVID response practices that are working well and plenty also about the ones that need to be adjusted. I wanted to send out an email to offer some clarification and updates. I will offer some pieces below on dining, isolation, data, volunteers and managing student concerns. I am happy to answer any additional questions- you can reach me on email, phone, teams, zoom, blackboard, in the CUB……
Meals: Below my signature please find a dining email that went out to students and was posted on parent Facebook regarding hours, options and their new app that allows for preorder for pick up. Also- we have gotten some concerns from isolating students about meal quality, quantity, and timeliness. As I shared last week, a weekend surge and early database glitches impacted timely communication with some of you and had some impact on meal delivery. We do deliver three meals a day (two at the hotel where the hotels provide their own breakfast) to students all at one time midday. When quality, quantity or timeliness of food has been brought to our attention we have quickly been able to respond and remedy the issue.
Isolation: This week’s update that came out today has a lot more information about isolation. https://www.stetson.edu/other/safer-stetson/index.php We have received some concerns from students and parents of commuter students requesting some additional university support. Based on their excellent questions and feedback, we have created a guide for isolating as a commuter student that offers suggestions for sharing space and resources in areas such as grocery delivery, laundry, technology, library and mail needs. Some of the recent positives have symptoms and some do not; some live off campus and some live on campus; of those who live on some have isolated on campus and some have chosen to go home (the Department of Health helps us with determining if they are allowed to go home). There were two gatherings that we were aware of last weekend, one of about 11 students (on campus) and one of about 30 students (off campus). The code of community standards was updated this summer to make it clear that hosting gatherings above the allotted size for each tier was not allowed and that face coverings and social distancing are required. The students who hosted the event have been suspended pending their community standards hearing. Those attending the event will also have sanctions. After the event, at least one person from each event did test positive. This led to large numbers of students being told to isolate.
Data: We no longer send out university emails when we have new positives in the community, but instead post them here and direct people to this site: https://www.stetson.edu/other/safer-stetson/test-results.php. We have been listening to different stakeholders’ desires for more robust and nuanced data reporting. A team of staff and faculty meet this week and are in the process of dashboard creation to allow the community access to live Power BI dashboards. Thank you to Michael Eskenazi, Angela Henderson, Colin MacFarlane, IT and members of the Safer Stetson taskforce for the diligent and collaborative work to present quality and timely data to our community. Those dashboards should be live next week, and starting today we have added more datapoints.
Volunteers: Some faculty and staff have reached out asking how they can assist with these new and unusual processes such as no touch student check in, tracing, and meal delivery. We are always grateful when members of the community feel that they have the bandwidth to assist in this unprecedented time. We are learning a lot and solidifying the best ways to support all of the new operational needs that come with running a residential university during a pandemic. COVID protocols can be very human resource intensive. Please know that we understand and respect the demands on the staff team. We know those duties are significant at all times and may be additionally challenging with the current need to use technology and adjusting during the pandemic. We know many of you do not have the additional time to assist in other areas. We may occasionally make you aware of our opportunities for people in the community to assist because people have asked us to share opportunities to help, but please know that we respect your role and load. We are also humbled by the dedication, love and collaboration of the staff of the Hatter nation.
Resolving student concerns: The relationships that our students build with faculty is one of the biggest assets of the Stetson educational experience. When they come to you with concerns, it is an indicator that you have built rapport with them and are seen as a trusted source for them to seek resolution. Recently some students have brought concerns to some faculty around areas such as isolation process and about their baseline needs of quality housing and food. In the situations where students bring concerns to any of us about another area, I have found the most productive and efficient process to getting their concerns heard and resolved is for the representative who received the concerns to reassure the student that the university cares about them and they are heard, and then connect them with the area that can respond to that concern directly. I am grateful to those of you who have reached out to housing, dining, the dean of students or me and connected the student back with us so we can come to quick and professional resolution. Direct feedback with specific student names will always allow us to serve our students best and remedy issues quickly.
The future: I imagine a day where I can get out of the weeds and spend time thinking with you all about the revolution that is happening in so much of American and global systems and industries, including higher education. These changes are bringing opportunities for us to build systems that are more in alignment with our values and that better meet the systemic inequities that are being put center stage at this time. What an amazing time to be an educator and be able to help our wonderful students think in more creative and complicated ways about the role they will play civically and professionally as an adult in today’s time.
We are committed to diligent practices and a host of mitigation strategies (including single occupancy rooms, requesting students to bring test results prior to attendance and not come if positive, face coverings, physical distancing, etc.); free and frequent testing; and tracing with good communication and isolation. This is a whole new world, and most of our students are being great community members and are grateful to be at Stetson. Thank you for your patience as we continue to learn and adjust in these unchartered times.
Thank you for all you do for our students each day. Stay well.
Lua R. Hancock, Vice President, Campus Life and Student Success (she/her/hers)