Message from Dean Dolan and VP Calhoun to students remaining on campus
Date: Friday, March 27th
Dear Undergraduate Students Who Remain on Campus,
We hope you’re doing as well as can be expected in these extraordinary circumstances. We’re writing on behalf of our colleagues with updates for those of you who needed to remain here on campus. We realize that your lives present challenges that need to be addressed as clearly and directly as possible.
We know that you were unable to return home for difficult reasons, circumstances that have likely increased the amount of stress you now feel. We’re relieved that you have a place to live and eat. While we’re doing everything we can to keep you safe and to care for you, we can’t provide the experiences that you might expect on campus in more typical times or, perhaps, at home.
Your dorm room, for example, might feel small and your dining options limited. We know that you have many fewer opportunities to gather in person, all of which exacerbates everyone’s feelings of isolation and concern.
But given the emergency nature of this crisis, conditions on campus—and indeed, across the larger Princeton community, the state, the nation, and the world—must now take a radically different form. The disruptions that characterize your daily life are felt around the globe. The New York Times’ sober reporting (which we encourage you to follow) clarifies the extent of the pandemic and the harsh measures required to contain the virus’s spread.
Conditions are particularly severe in our own community. As of 2:30 p.m. on March 27, New Jersey now has 8,825 coronavirus cases, with 108 deaths. Another 1,982 people have tested positive today, which is a huge single-day increase. Scientists believe we’re still three weeks away from the peak of the disease locally. We’re under a mandatory shelter-in-place order from New Jersey’s governor. We must follow all precautions to keep Covid-19 from causing more illness and deaths.
Given these circumstances, we want to provide more information about the new policies that now guide your life on campus. What might seem like stern disciplinary measures are meant to keep you, the other students you’re sequestered among, and the staff members supporting your presence on campus free from Covid-19. In fact, these new policies are designed to participate in New Jersey’s effort to “flatten the curve” and to reduce the number deaths this virus can cause.
As a result, the social distancing measures now being enforced on campus are not optional. Scientists and doctors around the world point to their effectiveness in slowing the spread of this deadly disease.
Do keep this information in mind as you navigate campus during this difficult time:
We know many of you feel lonely in your dorm rooms. We’re required to prevent students from visiting one another or eating in the dining hall so that necessary social distancing can be maintained. We’ve also heard about the challenges with loneliness that your classmates are experiencing, since many are self-quarantining at home.
Academic buildings have been closed across campus because we don’t want to ask our building maintenance staff to service and clean them to prevent the virus’s spread. We’re concentrating efforts on cleaning buildings in which you’re living and eating. We cannot allow students into academic buildings to study, to practice for voice or music lessons, or to socialize.
We also understand that the meal service to which you’re accustomed as a Princeton student has changed dramatically. Of necessity, with reduced dining service staff trying to cater to the needs of the students who remain, the range of meals available won’t be as extensive as usual. Once again, we’re doing everything we can, but amid a global pandemic, what we can do is severely constrained.
We’re glad to report, however, that the University continues to pay the salaries of the dining and food service workers, many of whom belong to groups vulnerable to the virus and who would otherwise be facing economic distress.
We’re pleased that our many campus resources continue to operate and offer support through a virtual format. The Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP) is compiling a list of these resources. You can also find the McGraw Center’s guide for engaging in virtual learning here.
If You have Particular Needs
As much as possible, we want to be able to meet your needs for certain dietary, social, and academic accommodations. We urge you to focus your requests on offices that are established to help.
- For critical dietary needs, such as food allergies, please contact Campus Dining at 609-258-6678.
- For academic accommodations, please reach out to your residential college dean or director of studies and/or the Office of Disability Services at ods@Princeton.edu.
- For social and emotional needs, please see the resources available through Counseling and Psychological Services or reach out to your residential college’s director of student life.
As you come to terms with the complexities inherent in this situation, we urge you to think of ways you can help. We’d rather not police anyone’s behavior, but we must rely on your commitment to observe all these new policies to keep yourself and others safe. We’re trying to help; we don’t want anyone to be homeless.
But if students who remain on campus can’t preserve social distancing or observe all the mandatory preventative health measures, they are endangering the lives of others and will not be permitted to stay. This is necessarily how a community protects itself when it faces matters of life or death.
You should not, however, stay in your room alone all day. Take advantage of the things we all can and should do. Go outside; take walks. Explore the beauty of the campus and the town, while maintaining six feet of distance between yourself and everyone you meet.
Stay grounded in your studies; continue to connect with faculty, other students, and staff in the many virtual communities that now substitute for the campus social rituals we all miss so much.
Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Read the news. Take care of yourselves, your fellow students, and the staff in the residential colleges who remain to help you.
Also, when you can, please thank the staff and service workers who are navigating their own challenging circumstances, both at work and at home, to support our efforts to maintain our on-campus population. They’re performing their essential duties within ever-evolving conditions that make their lives difficult indeed.
For instance, traveling to and from campus isn’t easy. Many University staff are now balancing their new campus responsibilities with the need to oversee their school-aged children’s remote learning at home. Others grapple with new economic uncertainties in their immediate families. In such a universally stressful historic moment, our service workers and staff would be grateful to know that you recognize them as a full and necessary part of our community, as your partners in getting through this crisis together.
Grace and kindness will help us all persevere and survive.
If you have any remaining questions, we urge you to reach out to your residential college staff, who will try to assist you. Staff across the university are overwhelmed with work they’re now required to do quite differently. Help us manage your needs by directing your questions and concerns to only one source.
We’ll reach out again soon, with more information. We wish you well as we navigate these tense times.
Jill Dolan, Dean of the College
W. Rochelle Calhoun, Vice President for Campus Life