Hello, and welcome to this online discussion about student life, community, housing, health, and wellness. My name is Devin, and I will be your host. It looks like we’ve got folks locally here in Monterey, Japan, UK, San Diego, Michigan, Maryland, New York, Afghanistan, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Wisconsin, Texas, Boston, so many that I probably can’t read them all, but thank you so much for chiming in. It’s great to see people coming from all over. Today, we’re joined by our student services team to tackle this topic, and we’re also joined by our chief diversity officer, Dr. Pushpa Iyer. Before we get started with today’s presentation, I’d like to invite Dr. Iyer to introduced herself and share with you a discussion that we’re planning to have Tuesday of next week at 4:00 PM. Dr. Iyer, the room is yours.
Hello, everybody. Welcome, and if you’re coming to MIIS, welcome to MIIS. If you’re still undecided, then please, just come on over. We are just waiting for you to come and join us. I want to talk to you in what has been a very, very difficult time here in this country. I know many of you are joining from outside of this country, but I’m sure you’re following what has been happening. I mean, we have the COVID crisis, as we say, in which the black community in the United States have suffered more. In fact, many counties have now declared that racism is a public health crisis. It’s gone to that level, like disproportionately worse. Right?
Then, recently, we have had the death of many black men and women, often in the hands of law enforcement, but also otherwise. The most recent ones are Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. The last one, in particular, you must have all followed. This news has created a wave of anger, despair, and sadness here in this country, and the protests that have been following since has been really massive protests all over, disturbing a lot of law and order, if you want to put it that way, but it’s also a scream and a cry for justice in this country.
We are a professional school, as you would have heard, read about us, and we want to prepare for the real world, so everything we do in our education here is to see how you will take on these challenges in this world, these challenges of bigotry and racism. The responsibility will be on your shoulders in the future. You have a role to play in what we can do to end this, not just in this country, anywhere in the world.
In my session for next week, which is on Tuesday at 4:00, as we said, I’m going to discuss with you on how you might incorporate a call for action in your education journey at MIIS, so how can you really act with what you know, with the knowledge that you have? We’ll start with the question, what am I going to do? Each one of us will start with that question. That’s briefly a little bit about what we are going to talk next week, on Tuesday at 4:00.
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Iyer, and I hope everyone’s able to join us for that important discussion. We will be posting information about that on the online discussion page. It’s not there yet, bot hopefully within the next 24 hours, that will be posted so you can register for that, as well.
I would like to now invite my colleagues, Ashley Arrocha and Alisyn Gruener to begin today’s discussion about student life, community, housing, health and wellness, and I’d also like to mention that we’re also joined by our colleague, Jill Stoffers, and one of our esteemed practicum students, Charlotte Roulet. Together, they will help us address some of your questions in the chat. So, Ashley and Alisyn.
Great. Thank you, Devin. I just can’t tell you how exciting it is to see all your faces. It’s a really welcome respite. I’ve been working from home for a while, and desperately missing our community and seeing everyone’s faces, so it’s really nice to see your faces. My name is Alisyn Gruener. I’m the Assistant Dean of Student Life and Engagement, and I’m joined my my colleague Ashley Arrocha, the Associate Dean of Student Services. Today we’re going to talk to you about student life at the Institute, and we’re going to start off with a presentation. We have some slides. I’ll share my screen in a moment. We will make these slides available for you after the fact. They have a lot of content on them, and we won’t go through all of it, so the slides will be available. We have links to all the relevant information online, so I encourage you to look at those after the fact.
Okay, I’m going to try to share my screen. Okay, great. To begin with, we just want to start by talking about the goals for today. After we are finished chatting with you, and I hope that we save lots of time for your questions, we hope that you’ll be familiar with our Office of Student Services, what we do here at the Institute, some ways that student life and community happen at MIIS, and I want to say that our department is a part of the community life puzzle at the Institute. We are not the only way, by any means, that community happens on our campus. Some of the ways that we do community, that we support community, we’re going to share about those ways with you today.
We hope that you’ll also be familiar with services and resources that are available to both incoming and current students, particularly around health, wellness, housing, and accommodations. Finally, we’ll end with some next steps for confirmed full students, if that’s you. And if that’s not you, and you’re thinking about a future term, these steps are probably the same.
I’m giving you a challenge, because we’re going through a lot of content, so I know it can feel like a lot. I would like you to, as we’re talking today, identify two tangible ideas that you can take on and commit to, to make your graduate school experience a success. We are focused on your life and supporting you holistically both in and outside of the classroom while you’re here, and there’s so much that you can be doing early, immediately, to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself during this journey. So, I encourage you to be thinking about that. I might quiz you. I might quiz you in MIcommunity, if not here. Two ideas to make your graduate school experience a success.
I’m going to turn it over to my colleague, Ashley.
Great. Thanks, Alisyn, and hi, everyone. I’m Ashley Arrocha. I’m Associate Dean of Student Services. I’m really happy to see so many of you, and on behalf of Alisyn and I, we’re really excited to talk about student services, and how we can support you as a student during your studies at the Institute. Before I get into that, I saw two people in the chat that are from Seattle, so I’m going to have to say, go Seahawks. I’m a Seattle person, too, so that’s exciting to see people from Seattle. Hi, Veronica, I see you in there, as well.
Anyway, how do we describe student services? I think the best way we can capsulize what we do and the narrative around that is that we enhance the student life experience through targeted and customized support outside the bricks and mortar of the classroom. We’ve done this really successfully online. We’ve been able to pivot pretty seamlessly to provide more services and support remotely, and we’re committed to doing that moving forward, should we need to. Should we need to stay remote in the fall, we’re ready to still provide excellent support and resources to all of you.
The core areas listed here are the areas that we’re responsible for, and we’re going to talk about these in the next few slides.
Okay, we’re going to start off with community, which is one of our core areas, a really important part of what we call, in general, student life. Community-building starts right away, as soon as you’re admitted in MIcommunity. Once you’ve been offered admission, you’re invited to join a private social network for the Institute called MIcommunity. If you haven’t been admitted yet, it will come as soon as you’re admitted. You’ll be invited.
MIcommunity is new to us. We launched it in January, so it is still very much a work in progress, but we have been facilitating many online spaces for many years, helping students connect with each other online, and MIcommunity allows us to do this in a much more effective way. It’s inclusive, there are no geographical barrier to get in, and it really, truly is a space for students to connect with each other, and advisors, and select faculty and staff. It’s a great space. We hope that you’re in there now.
Eventually, later this summer, we will invite all incoming students for fall to a Getting Started at MIIS course. One of the key tenets of the course is to build community among incoming students. That will be a space where you will spend a few weeks, to up to a full semester, getting to know the incoming cohort, and engaging in very intentional activities and content designed to introduce and welcome you to our community, but also to get to know each other very well.
Welcome Week is formerly called New Student Orientation. This will be the third week of August, and this is where we start, or continue, I should say, the really hands-on community-building work. We hope that that begins with MIcommunity, continues in the Getting Started at MIIS course, but during welcome week you will be invited to get to know your program-specific stakeholders in a deeper way. You’ll get to know your program faculty, advisors, current students that are in your program, and then we really touch upon a number of important community values during that week, as well. It’s also a time where we start to jumpstart your career readiness, which is such an important part of your graduate school experience.
In student services, what we do is we help facilitate all of this. We are not the deliverers. We do not deliver all of this content ourselves. It’s a joint effort, but we help sort of arrange all of these pieces together. The primary ways that our department helps support community-building for current student is by structured programing that we offer out of our department, as well as supporting student organizations, and those student organizations encompass student council, as well as student clubs.
We have a very vibrant student council and club life. Student council is our form of student government. It is a leadership body of 18 elected students, representative across degree programs and certain interest areas, and that group of students are leaders, and they represent the student body. So, if that is something that interests you, I definitely encourage you to get involved. Every fall, we start with a third of student council elected, and then we do elections for two-thirds of student council in the beginning of fall, so there’s plenty of opportunities for first-year students to jump on board.
If that’s not your area of interest, there are a lot of ways you will probably directly benefit from student council during your time at the Institute. Student council supports many funding opportunities for students in the form of professional development funding, supporting clubs, and other large-scale events and activities on campus. Student council also hosts a number of events and activities, and whether we are online or in person, that work will absolutely continue.
Student clubs are a really wonderful way to gather together with students who have similar areas of interest, shared identities, and maybe professional goals as you. Some clubs gather together just to have fun and blow off some steam, Outdoor Recreation club, or things like that. Other clubs have a more activism focus, like our Immigrant Rights Alliance club, and other clubs are designed to welcome together groups who share a similar identity, such as our Queers and Allies at MIIS club.
Every semester, clubs change, because every semester we have students that come and go, graduate and start again in the new program. And so, at any point we have anywhere from 35-45 student clubs on campus, so it’s a great way to get involved.
Great. Thanks, Alisyn. Health and wellness is one of our primary student priorities for the office of the department, and Alisyn is going to talk in a few minutes about some active programming. I wanted to share with you some resources that should be helpful to you as a student.
The first of all is health insurance, just some information around that. We do require that students have health insurance. We require that students who are enrolled in six credits or more in the fall or spring, or four or more in the summer, have health insurance. You can certainly choose your own plan. We do not have a plan for students, but what we’ve done is we’ve built out a webpage, and you can see the go link at the top of this slide, that has a lot of really good information to help you navigate how to find a health insurance plan, and we can answer any questions about health insurance during the Q and A portion of this, but we’re here to also help facilitate that process, to help you understand some of the limits and reaches of insurance, and just to navigate it. It can be tiresome and complicated, so we’re here to help assist you do that.
Also, I oversee all the disability services for students at the Institute, so if any student needs accommodations, they should reach out to me directly and I will worth with them to get the accommodations they need to be successful here at the Institute. Everything is listed on our website, in terms of the process and the application. It’s a pretty straightforward process, but don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Also, we have a really wonderful resource, a student assistance program through WellConnect. WellConnect offers six free counseling sessions per student per issue. They also have a 24/7 crisis hotline, in addition to 30 minutes of telephonic legal and financial consultation, and a really robust website full of information and videos. It’s a really wonderful resource, and it’s free to our students.
We also have SilverCloud, which is online cognitive behavioral therapy, self-guided program. You can choose a different module, whether it’s anxiety, or self-image, and so on, and you work through that module on your own. It’s not meant to be counseling, it’s just meant to have sort of a structure through which you can work through some issues. You can also elect to have a coach help you through that process.
We’ve also partnered with our health and wellness education team at the college, and they have an alcohol and drug occupational specialist that can provide support to students who are struggling with substance abuse, as well. Next slide, Alisyn.
Okay. All of the resources that Ashley just touched upon are what we sort of deem responsive. Responsive resources that are there for you if you’ve identified that there is a challenge or something that you’d like to work on. They’re amazing resources, and I very much encourage students to take advantage of them. However, one of the best ways you can make it so you don’t necessarily need to use those resources is to really focus on your proactive wellness as a student.
This is an area that we’ve just seen, across the country, the last decade, the levels of stress, anxiety and depression are kind of through the roof, and what’s happening in the country right now is certainly not helping any of that. So, we want to make sure that one thing you do before you get started in your grad program, and something that you continue throughout your grad program, is to prioritize your wellness. You cannot be successful, you cannot move on to have an amazing career and apply all of the work that you’re learning where unless you first and foremost take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself is different for every person, and we acknowledge that. Wellness is multidimensional, and it’s different for everybody. Because of that, what we have is a collective suite of different types of programming that are designed to support individuals based on what you know is helpful for you. I won’t go through all of these, but I’ll give you a couple of examples.
Middlebury as an institution, the larger Middlebury, has taken a strong commitment to mindfulness as a stress reduction practice, and so every semester there are a couple of one-credit, once a week mindfulness courses that you can enroll in. You can absolutely fit them into your degree plan, and they will help you set up a mindfulness practice, if that’s something you have never done before, or maybe grow a practice, if that’s something that you enjoy already. But a very useful, kind of formal mechanism for you to ensure that you’re taking regular action toward your proactive health.
Additionally, our larger Middlebury health and education wellness team, most of whom are located in Vermont, have a suite and series of programs that are available for our students as well. They’re all available virtually, because they’re all located in Vermont, but that works out really well for a lot of our students, regardless of whether we’re all working from home or we’re in person. All of those resources are very useful. You can access them on your own time, at the time that works for you.
Additionally, we support your physical health through free fitness opportunities. These happen, if we’re virtual, we stream them live online. If you’re in person, it looks like free passes to some local studios, if that’s something that interests you.
The other thing I want to touch upon is the student success series. Every semester we schedule a series of workshops. They’re topical, they’re short. If we’re in person, you get a free meal. If we’re online, you get another little benefit. But it’s a short workshop based on topics around mental health, leadership development, working in teams, a variety of topics. We create a suite of those for the semester, and you can just drop into a workshop when a topic is of interest to you. So, definitely be on the lookout for more information coming in the fall.
Great. Another area of support is housing, and we understand that right now, people are thinking about housing, but until we know what we’re going to do for the fall, maybe holding off on pursuing that, and that’s okay. If it turns out that we’re able to come on campus in the fall, we’ll still have plenty of time to look for housing. But the office of student services has created an online housing guide that really walks you through all the nuts and bolts of how to find housing in the Monterrey area. It’s a really robust guide, and everything is on our website, that go link on the slide, here.
We also have a housing group in MIcommunity, and this is where students can connect with other students, in addition to listings of landlords in the area. We post the listings in this group. It’s only for incoming students, as well as current students, and so it’s a great way to find housing, is through this group.
In addition to that, we also have property management companies listed on our website, and Craigslist and other platforms for you to look for housing, and we always recommend to look at different options and different resources to help facilitate that process. You should not limit yourself just to one resource when you’re looking for housing.
We are here to answer any questions about housing, discuss your budget, talk about neighborhoods, talk about, if you’ve never signed a lease before, what that might look like. We’re here to help support that in any way we can.
Also, finally, we had, in the pre-COVID-19 era, we had a temporary low-cost housing list. We did a call out to faculty and students and staff that have a futon or a room or something that students can rent or pay some money to stay on a short-term basis while they’re looking for housing. And certainly, we can’t do that now, but if it turns out that once we get back to campus, and on-campus, and everyone can be back in a normal capacity, we could reinstate that resource, which really does come in handy for students who need just a place to stay temporarily.
Okay. I am not going to touch upon this slide much, but I just wanted to make sure you know that student services is your hub for getting connected with local resources and discounts. We also have some other miscellaneous services that may or may not be of interest to you. Some of these are only for if we’re in person, things like buying a bus pass in person, or checking out the Costco card. But all of these are auxiliary benefits that are available to students. The links are there on the slide, and you can go read more about them, too.
Okay, student life policy. You’re going to find out more about our student life policy in more detail as we approach the fall term, but I wanted to make sure you’re aware that we have these policies, and become more familiar with them. I also serve as an optimum human relations officer, as well as I oversee the judicial affairs process for the campus, so anything related to student conduct, I am involved with. All of our policies are listed on this website. Again, the go link is at the top.
A couple of policies I have listed here that are really important for you to be familiar with is our policy against sexual misconduct, domestic and dating violence and misconduct, and stalking, our anti-harassment and discrimination policy, and our student conduct policy, which includes general conduct and academic honesty. We have these policies to help promote and maintain a safe and inclusive campus for everybody, as well as promote and support our community values.
We will all be required, those who matriculate and start in the fall, will be required to take an online mandatory sexual violence prevention training, and more information will be coming out in the first couple weeks of classes by email from me about that training.
In addition, I’ll be sending another email a the beginning of the semester … I send a lot of emails at the beginning of the semester regarding policy and procedures and whatnot, but this one will have all of our policies listed, resources, reporting structures, et cetera, and I invite you to contact me with any questions you might have around our policies.
And then, finally, you will be taking a course. In the [inaudible 00:23:25] course that Alisyn talked about, I have a short video I created that really introduces you to these policies, and how to report, and you can become more familiar with what they are. And so, hopefully once you’ve had a chance to look at that video, if you have any questions, certainly reach out to me. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
All right, our department is also one of the departments on campus that does student-facing veteran work. We support the student-run veterans’ organization. That’s for any service members, not just veterans, but active duty, ROTC, any military service members. We have a lot of support on campus for these populations. If this is you, I encourage you to go to go.miis.edu/service, the link is in the corner there, and register as a service member on campus. This just ensures that you’re receiving all the information and resources available, that you’re kept in the loop on any community events or activities that might be specific for you.
We also have a designated veterans’ center on campus. When we get to enjoy that again, it is a physical space that is only open to registered service members on our campus.
Okay, we’ve made it to our next step checklist. This is a refresher, but you want to make sure, if you’ve been admitted or beyond, that you’re in MIcommunity and checking it regularly. When you’re prompted, again, this will be in July, probably, you’re going to want to enroll in the Getting Started at MIIS course, and be active and engaged in that content.
From now until the start of your enrollment, you’re going to want to be checking both your personal and your Middlebury email accounts. Our office, as well as other departments will send you content or important messages in both of these places. If you get into your Middlebury email account and you see a lot of emails there, it’s your first time getting in, that’s okay. As soon as your account is created, you’re added to an all-student distribution list, so that’s why you’re getting all of those emails. They probably are not super relevant for you yet, so just look for things that are directly directed to you.
Make sure that you have Welcome Week on your calendar. That’s August 17th through 21st. We expect it will begin in the evening on August 17th, so not a full day, and that will be a series of live orientation events that week.
You’re going to want to start familiarizing yourself with how students find housing in Monterrey, and take note of questions that you have, and start building out your cost of living budget. Make sure that your budget for your cost of living aligns with the market here, and that you understand how students secure housing, and maybe create your own sort of to-do list of what you’ll do when you actually start looking for housing, when the time is right.
And make a plan for having health insurance coverage by the first day of the semester. We have a lot of resources online. That’s a good one to note.
Okay, that concludes our presentation, and I think we’ll turn it back over to Devin.
All right, thank you so much for that presentation. We really appreciate it. I do apologize. I’ve heard our dogs barking a little bit in the background, so you might hear that too. But some questions have come in, and then I also had some questions penciled that we’ve received from students recently, so I’ll as you those, if you don’t mind. But Alisyn, a question for you, if the semester is online, offsite, how do you anticipate student clubs and organizations working together if they can’t gather in person?
Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s certainly a challenge to the typical ways that clubs and student council have operated in the past, but I’ve been really pleased with the way that things happened at the end of last semester. Many of our student clubs really stepped up and started figuring out how they can fulfill their same mission in a different way. Really thinking about the objectives of their club, the importance that clubs play in community-building for our campus, and thinking about how they can still continue those themes even online.
For example, some clubs have been doing online book clubs. We’ve had a lot of virtual events. Our Toastmasters, which is a public speaking club, brought in an online speaking specialist who gave a really useful talk about how your presentation styles vary when you’re online, on Zoom. I should probably have attended. But anyway, I think clubs, they intuitively know what we all need, what the student community needs, and are really able to continue that work online.
Excellent, thanks for that. On a related note, if someone wanted to be involved with or contact student council, how would that happen, and can that happen now? Let’s say a student is admitted. Can they start engaging with student council now?
That’s a great question. I would say it’s probably best to wait until you’ve decided to enroll at the Institute. A lot is asked of our student council members. These are all volunteer positions. But as soon as you’ve determined that you’re going to come to the Institute, you’ve submitted that deposit, decided that you’re going to enroll, absolutely, if you’re interested in getting involved, you can reach student council. They have their own email account, StudentCouncil@MIIS.edu. The link to their website is in my slides, and their email address is there. They would be happy. They are very engaged and active, and they plan to be through the summer, even though that is not so typical, I would say, of past student councils. But this student council is very active and ready to connect with incoming students, I would say.
Great, thanks so much. This question came in in a couple of different ways in the chat. Will the … and this is, again, I think, for Alisyn, unless Ashley wants to jump in. Will the community-building activities, events happen despite COVID and the potential social distancing guidelines that might still be active?
I’ll go ahead and answer that. Alisyn, jump in at any time. We’re not sure what we’re going to be doing for fall yet. If we remain remote, we’re going to be having orientation building out. We’re going to expand a little bit more and offer opportunities for that engagement remotely. Once we go to campus, whenever that might be, whatever restrictions are in place, we’ll have to really evaluate, how do we connect, and really build out those community-building pieces in a safe way. And so, we can’t fully answer the question because we don’t know what that looks like, but we’re going to stay on top of it and ensure, if we are in person, that whatever we do, we’re doing it in an appropriate way and following all the mandates and restrictions that we need to. Alisyn, you can add anything else, if you’d like.
Just to say that I think, when it comes to being virtual versus being in person, the question we keep asking is, what is the intention behind the activity, the event, the resource, and how can we make sure that that intention is still fulfilled, even if we are not able to do it in person anymore? So, it might not look exactly the same, but we are absolutely dedicated to ensuring that community-building is a top priority, and if anything, I think this is an opportunity for us, and for faculty and staff, and really the campus community to get creative. I’ve been seeing that happen, and it’s actually very exciting to see.
Alisyn, thanks for that. Just a note, and I think many of you have heard this date referenced, but June 15th is the announcement/decision date about what the modality will be for the program this coming fall. Everything’s on the table, and obviously there’s a lot of different inputs, and of course county and state policies to be considered. So, I think there’s a mix, and I think a question came in about this, about what those modalities might be. Potentially all of the above. Please stay tuned, and we’re trying to share as much information as we have when it’s ready, but it’s still certainly under development.
A question did come in about … Thank you for staying on with us. Pushpa is joining us from the eastern time zone. But related to the current crisis related to health and wellness, I’m curious how diversity and inclusion is practiced at MIIS.
I don’t want to take away much time from today’s presentation on student services, so I’ll address more of this next week, but very briefly, I think between the different types of classes we offer, the different types of opportunities you have as students through various clubs, but also through other projects and programs, some of which I run through the Center for Conflict Studies will be involved, and you could be involved very much in the diversity. We also, various faculty and various groups on campus bring in a lot of different speakers and host different events, so you could also practice as well as be engaged in these conversations around diversity and inclusion. And then, of course, the office of the Chief Diversity Officer, which is my office that was created last year, is another one that’s picking up momentum. So, hopefully there will be many types of opportunities for you to be engaged.
Excellent, thank you for that. And the next question that I have here, it’s been announced that a few office buildings have been bought by Middlebury to change into student housing. Is there a timeline for when it will be available?
My understanding is that there’s not a timeline just yet. Ashley or Alisyn, correct me if I’m wrong. That announcement about buildings was made shortly before shelter in place in Monterrey, and that may have affected some of the remodeling and retrofitting that happens, so those timelines might be moving. Is there anything I’m missing there, Ashley or Alisyn?
No, that’s correct, Devin. The timeline, we don’t really know for sure when this housing will be available, given the restrictions that are in place right now, so just TBD on that.
Thank you. The next question that came in, when will we be sent the information to create a Middlebury email account if we are admitted? That’s going to be after you commit to the program. Once you deposit, within a couple of business days, you should see a message from our IT team about how to activate that account, so certainly be on the lookout for that.
And then, a question that has come up in the past, assuming the program is onsite, Ashley or Alisyn, how much do students need cars here in Monterrey.
I can take it. Either of us can take it. The short answer is no, students don’t need cars, but what we always say is that having a car definitely expands the opportunities that you have to go outside of this area, and there really is a lot to see in our immediate vicinity. Also, some students choose to have a car so that they live a little further away. They find that sometimes rent can be less expensive in cities, and so they’ll swap the expense of having a car with the savings that they gain from living in a slightly less expensive area.
Most of our students, though, I don’t know if this statistic is still true, but I think it’s about 60 or 70% live within a mile of campus, so the majority of students are walking or biking to campus, and we find that students can also get away with sharing cars, so if that’s something that’s a possibility for you, you can do that.
Great. And Alisyn, while you have the microphone, can you talk about when students will register for classes? I know that’s a little outside of your purview, but I’m confident you know the answer.
Yeah. It’s the last day of Welcome Week, which is Friday, August 21st for the fall. It’s always the last day of orientation, or what we’re now calling Welcome Week, right before your classes begin, and the reason for that is because we really spend that week, or your faculty, I should say, really spend that week introducing you to the different courses that are going to be offered that fall. So, after the week is over, you have all the information you need. Not just the requirements, that you get early, like I need to take this class and this class. But you have all of the information you need, including any language placement test results, if you’re taking a language as well, so that you can successfully register for all of your classes.
Excellent. Thanks so much. This is a question that has been asked. Will there be services offered to students of color and low-income students who may have difficulty working remotely? And I know that this current semester and the move to online learning, a lot of students had technology needs that they didn’t have at home, and I think the IT team was really supportive of helping those students out, so I would assume that would continue. But do you guys have any additional insight into that?
Sorry, I couldn’t unmute my mic very quickly. That’s right, Devin, this past semester, students that perhaps needed webcams or microphones, things like that, to ensure that they were able to successfully participate in classes remotely, we’re able to support that institutionally. We also were able to establish an emergency fund for students to apply to who needed additional money, I was on that committee, to support wifi, internet costs, and a printer if you needed to print out the materials. I would anticipate that if there is a need, if we identify students, if students self-identify that they might need some additional help and support to successfully participate in our classes remotely, that we can address that.
Great, thank you, Ashley. Alisyn, if one is looking for some community engagement, how could one go about finding a language exchange partner? How can one get in contact with students who are language teachers and get information on their classes?
Yeah, great question. I would start with MIcommunity. I would probably post something in the incoming student group, once you’re a member of that group, and then eventually, once you’re a member of the all student group, that includes all current students as well. So, I would post a request. Say what you’re looking for. You also can use the search feature in MIcommunity, search for a specific language, and that will bring up anyone’s profile who also listed that language, and then you can send that person a direct message and see if they’d like to connect.
We also have an active student club called BUILD, B-U-I-L-D. It stands for Beyond Yourself In Language Development, and they offer every semester free drop-in community-based language classes in a variety of languages. The languages vary every semester because they’re taught by students, mostly either native speakers of that language who are a current student, or students who might be in our language teaching program. But depending on what’s offered, that’s another great way that you can get some kind of supplemental language support outside.
Charlotte, did I miss anything? Do you have any thoughts on that?
Yeah, I was also going to just talk about BUILD, and how it’s a really great resource, but I think you mentioned everything that I would have said, so thanks.
All right, great. Just a couple more questions, and ones that I think I’ll just go ahead and jump in and handle. If the semester is remote, will that affect tuition costs and other fees? That’s a great question. It’s come up a few times. We’re looking at ways in order to address the financial strain that COVID-19 has caused. We’re actively in discussions with donors to try to relieve some of the burdens financially. So, stay tuned on that. There’s nothing definitive at that point.
And then, the next question is about, if the Institute does go to online classes, will they be live? And I have to say, definitely maybe. I think that the school needs to also consider where, you just saw in the chat earlier, students are tuning in from all over the globe, so being sensitive to that, different timezones, and when students would be able to join live. So, if I were to guess, I’d say that looking at synchronous but appropriate to a variety of timezones, or potentially some asynchronous components might be part of the online delivery.
Let’s see. It looks like the questions seem to be slowing down a little bit, so I’m going to ask my colleagues just to type in contact information or email addresses, and I know that was in the slide that you put up, Alisyn, but if you can add that to the chat, so people know where to ask additional questions, that would be great.
Oh, it looks like there’s one other question that did come in before we do that. Well, you can keep typing. But Alisyn, I know clubs may organize their own events, but are there any school-wide organized events, traditions, that happen either on or off campus?
Yeah. Sorry, I’m just rereading that question. Yes, absolutely. MIIS organizes a number of I would say traditional events and activities. Every fall, there is a student council-hosted follies show. It is a variety show to spotlight student talents and interests, and it’s a fun time. Every spring, we have an international bazaar, which is a showcase of our multicultural community. It’s a food, entertainment and art event, and it’s a really fun time. And also, every month, there are monthly social hours that are hosted by students, and it’s a great time to unwind, connect. They’re open to students, staff and faculty. It’s mostly students that attend. And it’s some free food and things like that.
If we’re not able to start those types of events back as usual, we will absolutely figure out ways to have alternative that can accomplish the same goals. So, I would say yes, and more to come.
All right, excellent. Well, I would like to thank all the panelists today for presenting. Really appreciate the information that you provided. And thanks to you all for joining us life. We really appreciate your questions and engagements. Again, there’s going to be more discussions. The link that I just put in the chat is where we’ll post them, and it’s a living webpage, so events will be added, including Dr. Iyer’s event for next week, and that’s Tuesday, June 9th, at 4:00. You’re some of the first people to hear about that, but that will go up on that page, as well.
Thanks to you all, and I hope you have a nice evening.