President Iuliano communicated with students about the benefits of our return to campus and to emphasize the College’s use of the COVID-19 behavior rubric when protocols are not followed.
As the first week of classes draws to a close, I am writing to say to the entire student body what I have said to many of you individually: it is wonderful to have you back on campus. Your presence underscores what we missed last spring—the joy that comes from being together, the deepened impact of our educational offerings, and the reinforcement of the sense of community that marks this campus and makes it such a special place to live, to study, and to learn.
I know from my early conversations with students how much it means to you, too, to be back on campus and learning in the ways that a residential experience brings in high relief. I have heard you reflect on the academic and social constraints made necessary by remote learning, and how being together has reignited a passion for learning, the curiosity that leads to authentic discovery, and the ability to find support from friends who are nearby.
The past two weeks have given proof that we are, in fact, Better Together. In that spirit, I am grateful for the work done by the College to establish the public health framework that has made it possible for us to return. Thank you to those students who have understood why these new ways of living are essential for us to stay together.
Over the summer, I recorded a video message in which I noted that it would not always be easy to follow the public health principles that keep us together. Wearing a mask during a Monday class isn’t quite the same as a Friday night gathering with friends. This week alone, we have seen several examples of what can happen if public health principles are not followed, as schools such as the University of North Carolina and Notre Dame have been forced to transition back to remote learning as cases of COVID-19 spiked on their campuses.
We do not want that to happen here, yet we have been made aware of recent incidents where some students appear not to have been adhering to the protocols we have put in place. We are following the steps that were outlined in our behavior rubric to handle these situations.
In the end, whether we remain together rests in your hands, on the judgments you make in those less structured moments. I have come to know this campus and the commitment of our students to each other. Let’s keep that commitment in mind, let’s not let down our guard, and let’s demonstrate what a determined academic community can achieve together.