In this week’s update, I’ll share some of the exciting plans for the spring term, provide information on the spring SafeColleges training, give an update on housing, and discuss progress on our work to improve the campus climate.
Expansion of Outdoor Opportunities
We’re embracing winter in Vermont and preparing lots of fun outdoor opportunities this term.
Some of the changes in the works:
Fire pits are being added around campus.
An ice rink is being built on McCullough Lawn, reviving a longstanding tradition.
Heated tents will be in numerous locations.
Cross country skiing trails will be groomed on the golf course with equipment available to borrow.
We are developing plans to have warm clothing available for those who need it.
Activities and Events
The Student Activities Office and many student organizations are already planning events for the spring semester, including some accessible to remote learners. MCAB (Middlebury College Activities Board) is planning a COVID-19 safe Winter Carnival. Nocturn will offer their all-campus arts festival with necessary precautions in place. You can also look forward to regular in-person events with prizes, such as BINGO, trivia, art nights with music, and board games. Finally, Student Activities is exploring providing more social activities on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights – especially during the first six weeks on campus, when winter will still very much be with us.
Spring SafeColleges Training
On February 5, students will be given access to a course in SafeColleges to prepare for the spring semester. There will be separate courses for on-campus and remote learners and content will include the new Student Health Pledge, information about arrival and ongoing community measures to protect against COVID-19, digital learning tips and resources, and COVID-19 illness planning and preparation. This course is required for all enrolled learners this spring and must be completed by February 17th.
Spring Term Housing Housing Lottery
The spring room lottery will run on Monday, February 8 . Returning students who were not on campus in the fall and are moving to campus for the spring may either identify someone already living on campus and have that student “pull” them into their room/suite/town house/small house or participate in the lottery. Full details about these processes were sent in a separate communication from the ResLife team on February 1.
New Student Housing
Housing assignments for first-year students and new Feb students moving to campus for the spring will be released February 15.
Students who lived on campus in the fall and are now transitioning to another status (remote, leave of absence, or approved off-campus housing), and who still have belongings in their fall rooms, must remove all belongings prior to February 12. Students who did not do so before departing at the end of the fall term must contact Residential Life as soon as possible to arrange a time to remove their belongings.
Sunsetting the online COVID violations reporting form
We heard from multiple students that the online COVID-19 violations reporting form (dubbed “go/snitch”) created an unhealthy atmosphere on campus in which students felt under constant surveillance by peers. Students described a fear of inadvertently making a mistake, being reported, and ending up facing a COVID-19 health and safety violation. We heard too that the presence of the online form was a powerful disincentive to speak directly with and respectfully hold one another accountable for minor violations.
These consequences were unanticipated and unintentional. They are also deeply concerning. For this reason, the online reporting form will not be used on campus this spring (it will remain active if townspeople wish to report concerns), and the Go/Snitch link will be disabled. I encourage you to respectfully engage with one another around minor concerns and bring significant concerns to the attention of your RD, Dean, the Office of Community Standards, or Public Safety.
As we move toward our goal of building an authentic community that functions on the principles of anti-racism, it is important to acknowledge our collective history as well as our personal stories. To that end, two Story Circles will be facilitated by faculty member Christal Brown, who will explain the storytelling process at the beginning of each session. The topic for the February 11 circle is Love (Zoom link), and for the February 25 circle is Voice (Zoom link).
Please email Christal Brown to request to be one of the storytellers for either of these events.
Spring Semester Open Office Hours
I’m pleased to announce that College Physician Mark Peluso, Environmental Health and Safety Officer Jen Kazmierczak, and I will be offering weekly virtual drop-in office hours on Fridays from noon to 1:30 p.m. If you have any questions about current health and safety expectations or other COVID-related topics, please stop in to have them answered before the weekend or submit them in advance to COVIDinfo@middlebury.edu. This is also an excellent venue in which to offer us suggestions and feedback. The first of these office hours will occur on March 5 and a link will follow in a later message.
As a reminder, prearrival quarantine is among the most critical components of our COVID-19 mitigation strategy. Students arriving on February 21 begin prearrival quarantine on February 7 and those arriving on February 22 begin on February 8.
Dean of Students