Since I last wrote to you on March 17, the leadership team in Student Affairs and Campus Life has been working diligently to address the multiple issues created by the transition of the college to remote instruction. First, I want to let you know that we have been thoughtfully taking into consideration the concerns you have shared with us. While we may not be able to address them all at this time, I ask for your patience and grace as we attempt to balance the needs of our students with the need to protect the health and safety of both our campus and local communities.
Among the greatest concerns you have expressed is whether there will be credits or refunds for on-campus housing and meal plans that you are now unable to use. There is a campus-wide leadership group focused on this issue, and they are considering what is best both for fairness to our students and the long-term fiscal health of the institution. While we continue to work through the details, we want you to know that we are committed to providing some level of credit or refund to eligible students based upon each student’s individual circumstances.
We commit to communicating the decision during the week of April 6. Thank you so much for your patience while we finalize details.
Flexible Grading Options
Yesterday, you heard from Provost Cornish regarding our decision to offer flexible grading options during this extremely challenging time. Given the circumstances, we are making temporary exemptions from academic policy, effective for Spring 2020 only, to help minimize the potential effects on students of the necessary switch to remote instruction at this point in the semester. This section of the Classes & Academic FAQ has the details, and you should regularly visit the FAQ as it will be continually updated. Please also note that you should consult with your advisor or dean’s office about the potential implications of changing your grading options on your specific program of study.
Update on Move-Out Plan
Many of you have asked how you can gain access to the belongings in your on-campus residence. Given the urgent nature of our request to have everyone stay off campus, which came during Spring Break, we know that not everyone was able to return to campus to retrieve all necessary items.
Complicating this is the executive order issued last week by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo requiring all non-essential businesses and entities in the state to reduce their on-site personnel to zero as of March 22. While there are exemptions that allow places like Ithaca College to continue providing essential services, this does mean that our original plan to not allow students to return to campus to pick up their belongings until at least after May 12 will likely need to remain in effect.
In an effort to address your concerns around retrieving your essential belongings, we are going to provide the option to ship essential items in one box, up to $20 in shipping cost, to each student with no cost to the student. Shipping costs above $20 or additional boxes will be charged to student accounts. The average cost per shipment is anticipated to be around $10 per box. Given the anticipated volume of requests, these are the parameters that we ask you to follow. Please note that it may take 4-6 weeks for you to receive your package. More details regarding the process are on the property retrieval form. If we have already shipped items to you, you will not be charged for the shipment.
Virtual Engagement Update
From your phone calls, emails, and social media comments, we know that the loss of the on-campus, in-person college experience has hit hard for many of our students. We want to share with you our thoughts regarding your student experience for the remainder of the semester. We invite you to the first all-student virtual gathering, hosted by me and President Collado, which is scheduled to take place on Friday, April 3, from noon-1:00 p.m. ET. To help us answer as many questions as possible in the time allotted, please submit your questions in advance via this online form no later than 5:00 p.m. E.T. on Tuesday, March 31. Once the details have been finalized, we will let you know how to take part in this gathering.
As I shared with you in my last message, Student Affairs and Campus Life and many other offices are working diligently to provide you with opportunities for virtual connections and support. Virtual activities this week include: yoga, religious and spiritual services, meditation, career counseling and a Soup and Hope event with Luca Maurer, Director of LGBTQ Education, Outreach, and Services. Follow @ithacacollege on Instagram to see a list each Sunday of upcoming campus-wide virtual activities. You’ll continue to get a weekly email from the Office of Student Engagement team with events as well. All virtual events will be posted to the Ithaca College events calendar.
Student Support and Services
My hope is that you will continue to focus primarily on re-engaging with your faculty and your studies this week. We know that this re-engagement may be challenging, and we want to assure you that Student Affairs and Campus Life is here for you virtually if you need support.
The following offices can still be accessed remotely:
For your health and that of your loved ones and your communities, please continue to practice social distancing. I will be back in touch with more news as we have it to share. In the meantime, I would like to share with you this short video message from me.
All my best,
Rosanna Ferro, Ed.D.
Vice President for Student Affairs & Campus Life