A June 2019 article in Emerson Today explored the fact that Emerson has only ever had one motto: Expression Necessary to Evolution. That phrase has been uttered many times these past months, as we have adjusted to the realities of this current situation and prepared for the start of the fall term.
Starting the academic year in an environment such as this is a new experience for each of us. You’ve heard many times, and will continue to hear many more, about the efforts the College has taken to reduce risks and prepare for the return to in-person instruction. A great deal of time, planning, and resources have been dedicated to planning for this fall.
The common denominator to ensure our success? We each have to do our part. Wear your face covering. Be thoughtful about your interactions and limit them when possible. Maintain six feet of distance whenever possible. Wash your hands. Stay home if you feel sick or experience symptoms. Show up for your appointment time and take your weekly COVID-19 test. Complete your daily symptom tracker. Follow posted guidelines for use of stairwells and elevators. Avoid large gatherings/crowded areas, both on and off campus. Answer your phone when Tufts Medical Center, the Center for Health and Wellness, or a contact tracer calls you.
Personally, I have great faith in our students and in our community. I believe most of us want to do the right thing. We care about others and not just ourselves. We’re willing to accept some inconvenience if it advances the common good.
I also believe we are all human. We might forget to grab a face cover on our way out the door, or not notice that is has slipped out of position on our face. When that has happened to me, a simple, quick reminder was all I needed to correct myself. Similarly, a member of the community could need to temporarily remove their face cover for a medical-emergency reason, such as a panic or asthma attack. When you encounter such situations on campus (and this is a when, not an if), imagine how you would like to be treated if you were in the same position, and act accordingly. Our greatest tool to maintain public health standards is in each of our hands, and can be as simple as remembering these four Rs:
- Remind: “Hey, don’t forget your face covering.”
- Request: “Would you mind putting on a face covering?” or “Please put a bit more space between us.”
- Retrieve: “There are face coverings at the tap desk, let’s get you one.”
- Report: If someone’s behavior is a pattern or they refuse to comply? Fill out the share a concern report form at www.emerson.edu/shareaconcern and a member of the College staff will follow up.
We could probably add a fifth R: Respond. If someone asks you to put on a face cover or create more space, why not just do so?
Students who are not able to abide by the expectations outlined in the Emerson Community Compact will be referred to the Student Conduct process. If you are not able to support these expectations, you could forfeit the opportunity to engage on campus for the semester. The consequences for knowingly submitting false information or refusal to follow College expectations will be significant. Please note: If you are removed from housing or are not allowed to be present on campus because of your inability to follow the Community Compact expectations, you will not be eligible for refunds of room and board or tuition costs.
As Emersonians, we have a responsibility not only to our community on campus, but to our neighbors in the greater Boston area as well. You are adults, and we neither have the desire nor the ability to monitor every aspect of your lives. We need to be very transparent, however, that the expectations outlined in the Community Compact are binding both on and off campus. If you choose to create situations which endanger others, whether that be through a student organization activity or a party in your apartment, you will be held accountable by the College. The College has partnered with the city and mayor’s office, joining efforts to keep all residents safe. Every college in the city is committed to working together to navigate the fall semester.
You’ll receive a variety of communications on a regular basis over the course of the fall. That can be a bit overwhelming, and at the same time, no one email has the ability to answer every question. Many of the answers you are looking for are likely available on the One Emerson site, and in particular can be found by searching the One Emerson Knowledge Center. you can always email the firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com email addresses for specific questions or concerns.
These situations are not ideal. We are social beings, and the restrictions required to combat this virus can at times be uncomfortable and frustrating. I am hopeful that as we address our fears, examine our behavior, and commit to working together, we can not only make this work, we will create a new chapter of the Emerson story. Each of you has the opportunity to contribute to this chapter. Expression is necessary to evolution, after all.
Take good care,
Vice President & Dean of Campus Life