Campus life details for residential first-year students

Message sent September 9, 2020

Keira Kant ’95, Associate Dean of College Life, updates first-year students about campus life.

Dear First-Year Students,

I hope this update email finds you and your family well. We know this has been a challenging time for all of you. We want to provide you with information on how we can make the next several weeks at Gettysburg engaging, fun, and meaningful for you.

As the College continues to send communications to students and their families, we have begun to receive questions about next steps for first-year students. I want to highlight some of the most recent inquiries more directly related to lifestyle rather than testing processes. You should have received a detailed email earlier this week indicating details for the testing today and tomorrow.

*The details provided in this email pertain to the First-Year Students in the approved residential cohort.

Updates about the First-Year Experience

Departments across the College are committed to working together to offer a positive and engaging experience while you are on campus; the First-Year Class officers are already working on some ideas with Student Activities. Some opportunities may include shared experiences for the entire class, programming in response to needs and feedback from students, support from student leaders and campus departments, outreach from First-Year Seminar (FYS) instructors and Student Success Advocates (SSA), etc.

Living in the Halls

As you know, all students in the approved residential cohort will be placed in singles in order to de-densify the halls and to support the needs of the potential positive COVID-19 cases and associated contacts that may arise. Some of you have shared concerns about being in singles, while others have expressed reinforcement of this plan.

Although everyone will have a single bedroom that does not mean no community! The Office of Residential & First-Year Programs is working from two guiding principles during this shift in housing, and though we cannot guarantee this will be the case everywhere, we will do our best to meet these principles:

  • Maintain some continuity with proximity to roommates/floormates
  • Maintain some continuity with proximity to First-Year Seminar classmates

We understand that this change could be challenging for some students and we are ready to support students in making connection and building community. We have a number of programs and initiatives in place to foster community amongst the First-Year Class and other members of the approved residential cohort, including:

Resident Assistants (RAs)

All first-year students will continue to have a Resident Assistant (RA) in their living space. RAs will help to build community and foster connection between students in their areas. RAs can also help first-years stay connected with the friends they have already made on campus.

Extended Orientation

The program is designed to help first-year students learn more about our campus, engage with resources, and connect with their peers. Through this program, students are also given the opportunity to meet with their residential community and have one on one conversations with their RA. This is a required program designed to help first-year students continue to make connections with peers, as well as with staff and departments. It will also help students to more fully understand the campus offerings available to them, so they may thrive at Gettysburg College.

Student Success Advocate (SSA)

Our Student Success Advocate program will continue for first-year students and all fall 2020 transfer students. The SSA (a professional staff member) will work as part of each first-year student’s “team” of support, which includes a faculty advisor and RA. SSAs will continue to reach out to offer resources or an opportunity to meet. If you have a question about the SSA program, please contact Keira Kant, Associate Dean for Residential and First-year Programs at

Opportunities to Connect Outside of Your Hall

This week, we will be providing opportunities for students to connect and have fun virtually through trivia games, streaming performances, and more. Once we are able to resume in-person programming, the College will host events where you can meet new people and build on the connections you have already made. To stay up-to-date about what will be happening this week and the rest of the semester, please go to engageGettysburg. You can also download the engageGettysburg app on your iPhone or Android device.

As we continue through the semester, we know how important it will be for you all to build community with one another and to give input on the kinds of experiences we are offering. To that end, we encourage you to be on the lookout for the following in the coming weeks:

Common Interest Meetings

Using interests listed on student profiles in engageGettysburg, we will identify commons interests among the students on campus. The College will identify group leaders who can reach out to those with a selected interest and invite them to a small in-person activity or discussion related to the topic. Topics will be wide ranging and will include academic interests, hobbies, fandoms, and pop culture. Funds will be made available to these groups to host programming for themselves and others on campus. If you have not finished your engageGettysburg profile, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible so we can connect you with new people.

Social Programming

Offices and departments across campus will be partnering to expand social programming for students on campus centered around fun activities, food, and building community with one another. These programs will include regular weekly programming, late-night programming, and special events. If you are interested in planning events like these, please email the Office of Student Activities & Greek Life at

Input from First-Year Students

The College and the First-Year Class Officers have committed to working together to ensure the class has a positive and engaging experience while they are on campus. This will include providing shared experiences for the entire class, developing programs in response to the needs and wants of students, addressing concerns that are raised, and educating students on how they can advocate for themselves and the greater community.

Fitness Center, Campus Recreation, and Intercollegiate Athletics

We plan to resume in-person recreational activities within the Jaeger Center, including at the College pool, as early as September 16 (but no later than September 18). If you receive a negative test result before our in-person activities resume and you would like to exercise, students may access the track at Musselman Stadium, the intramural fields, and the Tennis Courts.

In addition, coaches will be engaging with members of teams who are part of the approved residential cohort in athletic activities following the same timeline (as early as September 16, but no later than September 18).

There will still be mitigating practices in place to comply with federal, state, NCAA, and institutional policies surrounding COVID-19. However, since conditions on campus have changed (de-densification and testing each student regularly), certain adjustments will be made to adapt to these new conditions.

This week, there will be several opportunities to engage virtually with Campus Recreation. These opportunities include:

A note on cars

A number of students have asked about bringing a car to campus now that there will be fewer students in residence. At this time, we are asking you to indicate your request for an exception to the policy for first-year students and cars. Please email Travis Griffie in the Department of Public Safety to request an exception.

Finally, earlier today the College sent an email to sophomore, junior, and senior students providing our rationale as to why the College decided to retain first-year students, and cohorts of other students, in our de-densified model. We also conveyed our decision about a tuition adjustment for those full-time students continuing or transitioning to remote education. We thought it would benefit you to see this information as well.

I hope this email offers clarification on some key questions that you and your family may have, as well as provide you with insights into our plans moving forward for the rest of the fall. We look forward to a safe and healthy semester with you, and getting to know you better during these next three months together.

Thank you and be well,

Keira Kant ’95
Associate Dean of College Life