Dean of Students press conference shows still much to be decided
Vice Provost for Campus Life and Dean of Students Kendal Washington White spoke at a press conference a few minutes before 4 p.m. Monday where she addressed various changes and concerns connected to new University of Arizona policies in response to the coronavirus.
Washington White began by saying the university wants to make sure everyone feels safe and that students are being properly taken care of.
“This is an unusual situation that we’re dealing with here at the University of Arizona and all institutions across the country,” Washington White said.
Washington White said she would “certainly not make that same decision” other schools have made, some forcing students to move out, notably Harvard University. UA students are, however, able to make that choice for themselves if they would like.
“Our students have the option to stay in our residence halls if they may not have a home to go to,” Washington White said. “There are some students that are vulnerable that may not have the opportunity to move out of a hall.”
Washington White did mention there were “several deadlines” concerning moving out of residence halls, but that they were “accommodating to each student’s situation.”
She also said most students will likely stay home during this time, but those who do stay on campus will still have access to campus services, such as student unions, campus recreation and Campus Health.
As for compensation for students who do move out, Washington White said in a post-conference discussion that those students will get back 10% of the money they paid for housing for the academic year, while students living in the dorms in the 2020-21 school year will get back 20%.
This 20% will be applied to the housing costs of students returning to live on campus in the 2020-21 school year, according to an email sent out by UA Housing and Residential Life on Sunday, March 15.
Washington White said she thinks there “will be concerns about students switching completely to online." The Office of Instruction and Assessment is working with faculty to make online classes possible while also accommodating students in areas with little access to consistent and strong Wi-Fi.
She also said the UA is emphasizing the use of digital meeting applications, such as Zoom, to continue to engage students.
Additionally, Washington White said the normal fee for online classes will not be applied to normally in-person classes.
“We’re not charging our students who have been here this entire academic year,” Washington White said. “We’re not adding that fee for them, because they’ve already paid.”
Washington White said the status of Commencement is still up in the air.
Referencing the Centers for Disease Control’s new suggested limit of 10 people in an area at one time, she said, “We are still figuring out whether or not we’re going to have Commencement. We have to wait and see.”
Washington White did go on to say that individual college convocations will not be held, but that Commencement as a whole was not yet decided.
She said the university will likely make their decision by the end of the week.
“To not have that celebration possibly at the end of the semester,” Washington White said, “is heartbreaking because it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work.”
The campus was nearly empty, with a few small groups walking by every once in a while.
“As the Dean of Students, I miss having the students on campus,” Washington White said. “That’s what makes this campus vibrant and fun to be a part of. And so to see that we don’t have all of our students here on the first day after Spring Break, it’s tough.”
Washington White said she felt for students, especially first-years and graduating seniors.
She summed up the campus feeling by saying, “This is not what anyone dreams of.”
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