August 20, 2020

Hello, everyone,

As we all count down the days before our Fall 2020 semester begins on August 24, I know that many of you are feeling a mixture of anxiety and excitement, as well as more uncertainty than usual about what our semester will look like.

I also know—and I think it is important for our students to know—that when we recently asked all of our employees what their biggest concerns were about this coming semester, the one we heard most often was that students would not follow public health precautions.

The good news is that in a survey conducted by the Division of Student Life, 91% of student respondents said they were motivated to practice safe public health behaviors. To those students who are committed to doing the right thing and to following the public health precautions that will mitigate COVID-19 spread (shown in this video), thank you! I’m proud of you and grateful to you. Keep it up.

And I assure you all that we are doing absolutely all we can to get all our students on board with doing what they must do to help us keep our campus open this fall. On Tuesday evening, I sent this message to student residents of our residence halls and apartments, and I am delighted to tell you that we saw an immediate surge in students coming to get tested. Many of our students read that message and took action—because Rams Take Care, Rams Take Action.

Just a few minutes ago, I sent this message to all students. It does not mince words, because we cannot afford to mince words. If all our students do not comply with public health precautions all the time, we may find our semester in jeopardy, and we may see our community’s health at risk.

That’s why we have invested tremendous resources of time, money and talent in developing an educational campaign for students around COVID public health precautions.  You can see an example of campaign materials here, and you’ll see more around campus during the semester. We’ve also done hard work to promote adherence to public health precautions. These precautions are enforceable via our existing university polices for both students and employees. Violations of these precautions can and will be addressed immediately in many situations. And if you see someone violating any of these precautions, you can report that behavior here.

I know you are all concerned, for your own health, for that of your family and friends, and for that of our community. I share your concerns. But I also believe that this extraordinary, uniquely energetic and engaged campus community can succeed in creating and sustaining a healthy Fall 2020 semester.

We can do this—together.