This is the second article in a two-part series about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the upcoming fall semester at Meredith College. To read the first part, click here.
SLS, Clubs, Organizations, Traditions
Outside of the classroom, many Meredith students are involved in clubs and organizations. The Office of Student Leadership and Service (SLS) is planning to offer many of their events virtually and, where possible, effectively utilize Meredith’s outdoor spaces in order to hold in-person gatherings safely. “We have a strategy in place as part of our organization guidelines where we have an event in multi-spaces,” SLS Director Cheryl Jenkins said. “You have 25 people in a space and you’re in a shift, and you have an entrance point and an exit point. The next group that comes has a whole different set of seats and don’t cross paths with the other group. It's one event but you’re spread out.”
One of the most beloved facets of campus life for many members of the Meredith community is traditions. For traditions that are typically held every fall such as Cornhuskin,’ plans and adjustments are currently being made.
“MRA has been meeting to come up with some virtual ideas and some in-person ideas,” Jenkins said. “They have put together a survey and hopefully within this next week, that survey will go out to students. The goal is to have Cornhuskin’ this fall, and the pieces will come together by the end of August.”
Regarding other traditions, decisions are being made on a case-by-case, collaborative basis.
“For other campus-wide or class traditions that we advise, we are working with the co-chairs to determine what formats they can be facilitated in in a safe manner but also ones in which the class will enjoy the way that it’s facilitated,” SLS Assistant Director Catie McAnulty said.
The Big Sis/Lil’ Sis program is another tradition that Class of 2022 members and Class of 2024 members will partake in this year, and the socials will be held in a more flexible manner.
“The Big/Lil’ Co-Chairs and their team of chairs supporting the effort are still planning to host the three socials in August, but they would be socials in which there are physical distancing measures in place,” McAnulty said. “Outside events, indicators of where to stand and students will likely register to attend events at a specific time.”
Honors and Teaching Fellows Programs
For students who are members of the Honors or Teaching Fellows programs, the events typically held each semester will be formatted differently to accommodate students’ physical health and wellness.
“Safety is our main concern,” says Honors Program Director Dr. Jennifer McMillen; “following the guidelines from the CDC and the governor’s office will dictate what we can do and not do.” The annual Honors Fall Trip is now a spring trip, scheduled for April 9-11, and McMillen is “cautiously optimistic” about bringing back Focus on Excellence events in spring 2021 as well.
The format of Honors courses will depend on the decisions of those individual departments, McMillen describes; all chemistry labs, for example, will be online, so the Honors section will be, too. The Honors FYE course, taught by Drs. McMillan and Toole, will be a hybrid course, the Honors colloquium “Defining Home” will be online synchronous and the “Mind, Music, and Morality” colloquium will be taught face-to-face.
“The name of the game right now is flexibility,” explains McMillen.
Study Abroad and International Programs
For those who were hoping to study abroad in the near future, it is being put on hold since international travel contradicts COVID-19 guidelines. During this time, the Office of International Programs is working with their partners to reschedule study abroad experiences, as well as transitioning their Fall 2020 services and events to an online format.
“We have spent this summer working very hard on reimagining the support and services that we give to students to move it all virtually,” Director of International Programs Dr. Shurer said. …”Our biggest event of the year is the study abroad fair, and we are going to do a week-long virtual showcase of all the programs that we’re offering on the week of September 14.”
As students and staff prepare for the new and different semester that approaches them, there are definitely remaining uncertainties and decisions to be made by campus leaders. During these evolving times, President Jo Allen reminds the Meredith community that they are strong and resilient individuals who can defy the challenges associated with this global pandemic.
“Though it may seem difficult at times to believe, we are confident that, together, we will emerge from this situation even stronger,” Dr. Allen stated in an email on Apr. 20.
The Meredith Herald will continue publishing updates on the Fall 2020 semester and its accompanying changes as they are made available. If you have any questions you want answered, do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or social media!
By Hannah Porter, Staff Writer