On Thursday, various Bates College staff members hosted a third webinar for new and returning students. This live stream was meant to update students on new policies and to answer questions regarding the upcoming Fall semester .
Chief Communications Officer Sean Findlen ’99 began the live stream by reminding students to be constantly checking the Bates COVID-19 update page, which he noted is being updated almost daily with new information.
Joshua McIntosh, the college’s Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students, opened the forum by laying out the three options for completing the Fall semester: return to campus while accepting a “fundamentally different experience,” take classes remotely, or do a gap year (for new students) or leave of absence (for returning students).
McIntosh emphasized a sentiment reiterated by almost every other panel member: “the fall remains uncertain and unclear.”
He ended the webinar with two important points of information. Students who study remotely and have a work study component to their financial aid will have their work study expectation replaced with a grant. Additionally, students should expect a hard deadline, probably Friday, Aug. 7, about deciding whether or not to return to campus.
Consistent with our coverage of the previous live stream, The Bates Student has opted to split up the information provided into sections: Academic Updates, Move-In and Orientation, Coronavirus Policies and Testing, and Campus Life
Mary Meserve, the college’s registrar, gave a series of updates about the new module system.
Courses this fall will either be offered in person, online or a hybrid of the two. According to Meserve, about 75% of courses will be in person or mixed, though she stressed that “for all fall courses, if you do elect to remain at home or wherever you may be, you can take any course whether it is marked in person, mixed, or remote.”
Meserve also noted that there were a few cancelled courses that will be moved to the winter semester. Additionally, there are about 25 new courses that have been added.
The add/drop period begins on Aug. 28, almost a week before the start of classes, which is different from the normal policy of the day before classes begin.
Although classes will reportedly be offered every day for an hour and 45 minutes, Meserve stated that classes are unlikely to be held five days a week – rather, these listed periods make up scheduled blocks. Most classes will still be offered two to four times a week, and it is unlikely they will last the full hour and 45 minutes.
Darren Gallant, the Associate Dean for Global Education, encouraged international students living on campus to enroll in at least one in-person course. He also acknowledged that the process was stressful and reminded students that the college can also reissue I-20s.
Move-In and Orientation
Associate Dean of Students for Residence Life and Health Education Molly Newton ’11 was able to provide more information about move-in than previously disclosed. Though the official schedule and details will be published shortly, Newton told students to expect a quicker and less flexible move-in experience.
Students will first be required to visit Underhill Arena during the time slot selected on Garnet Gateway. Then, they should make their way to Merrill to get their ID card activated and receive their key. From Merrill, students should then proceed to their assigned dorm for move-in.
She reminded students that although family can drop them off, they cannot help you move into the building. Instead, Bates has hired movers to help with the transition.
For the initial period while the college is waiting on test results, students are expected to remain in their rooms, with grab-and-go style meals provided outside Commons.
Newton also emphasized that students should try to “pack light” and only bring the things they need.
Campus services like Post and Print will be closed unless for emergencies for the first part of move-in. There will be a more comprehensive list of services and their hours that will be emailed to students soon.
Details about first year orientation were shared by Blake Reilly, the Assistant Dean of Students in the Office of Residence Life and Health Education.
According to Reilly, video content will be available for first years starting on August 17. Incoming students will get the chance to meet virtually with their first year center and junior advisor, as well as with their academic advisor.
During the quarantine period, all events will be held online. There will be very small group experiences, like a redesigned AESOP, after students’ results are negative.
AESOP leaders will be hearing from coordinators about the different experience, and all programming will occur on campus.
COVID-19 Policies and Testing
Carl Steidel, the Senior Associate Dean of Students, spoke to students about the health and safety forms they are required to sign to return to campus.
Steidel stressed that if students adhere to the policies, they have the highest chance of being able to stay on campus.
Any violations of the public health agreement will be sent through the student conduct process. The most likely outcome is being asked to leave campus and take classes remotely, however in some cases, like throwing parties or not quarantining, students may be suspended.
Nick Cooke, the Assistant Director of Athletics for Athletic Performance, has taken on a new role as head of the testing center.
Cooke emphasized that students should be visiting the new testing website.
Bates has chosen to work with a testing company that specifically chose supplies and materials that are easily sourced, meaning there will be little to no stress on the supply chain.
If students feel ill, they should not report to the testing center but rather reach out to Bates Health Services. Students should expect results to come back within 24-36 hours, and Bates will be getting their first shipment of supplies on Monday.
Campus life is going to be complicated and unusual this fall, according to most members of the panel.
One concern brought up multiple times in the Q&A was about access to other dorms. A new Bates policy states that students are only allowed to be in their assigned residence halls.
McIntosh stated that Bates will not be monitoring residence hall entrances.
“We will need students to be responsible and other students to help influence the behavior of their peers,” he wrote in the Zoom chat. “Students who violate the public health agreement will be referred to the student code of conduct system.”
Carl Steidel added that the college “has never approached our community standards from a perspective of constant monitoring and enforcement,” but still urged students to adhere to the rules.
Noelle Chaddock, the Vice President for Equity and Inclusion, spoke about the Bobcat First! program. The college is working to get the 2024 Bobcat First cohort organized. They will also be reaching out to current students for help and support.
Chaddock also stressed that the college has plenty of resources for returning Bobcat First students. They have also been doing work around anti-racism, inclusion, and access.
Additionally, they are working on training new hires to help support different organizations and centers on campus.
Director of Athletics Jason Fein had the opportunity to update students on new fitness policies and programs.
The Athletics Department will offer a host of virtual options available for fitness, strength and conditioning and yoga. The schedule will be released soon.
Gym equipment will be spaced apart and there will be enhanced sanitation and cleaning which will require short shutdowns throughout the day.
Fein is especially excited about the creation of more outdoor fitness and recreation programs. The college is creating an outdoor fitness plaza between Merrill and the tennis courts. They are also designing a fitness trail throughout campus.