Student expectations for fall semester

Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley sends this message to returning students.

Dear returning students,

We have missed seeing you on campus and are very much looking forward to your return next month. Our campus is beautiful, but it just isn’t the same without you. Last spring we heard from you very clearly about your strong desire for a return to in-person instruction for the fall. Elon’s Task Force on Fall Semester 2020 carefully reviewed options for fall semester and recommended not only that we could resume in-person instruction on campus this fall, but that we should do so. In fact, their report says that “the Task Force is united in its view that Elon should resume on-campus operations this fall.”

I hope you’ve been staying informed this summer through email and the Ready and Resilient website about the work being done to prepare for the fall. There has been a transformation of the campus; classrooms have been redesigned to reduce capacity and promote physical distancing, faculty members have been modifying syllabi and developing innovative approaches for their courses, meeting rooms and event spaces have been transformed into additional classrooms, and student service locations have been reconfigured.

In the days ahead, we will share details of a comprehensive COVID-19 testing plan for all community members and how we will respond to positive cases among students, faculty and staff. I ask that you pay careful attention to these communications.

Today, I want to reinforce two simple messages: 

First, we are excited for your return to campus and looking forward to a great – albeit different – fall semester. Along with academic changes, we’ve also been planning for the out-of-class relationships, connections and community that are an essential part of living and learning at Elon. Student organizations, events and activities will operate a bit differently this fall, with larger events replaced by lots of smaller settings and activities. But strong community and relationships are at the heart of an Elon education and we know they will be more apparent than ever as we reconvene together this fall.

Second, and more important, I want to emphasize the Task Force message that, “a university culture of care is our most powerful weapon against COVID-19.” As we return to campus, all students, faculty, and staff will sign the Healthy Elon Commitment, describing the behavioral expectations for the fall semester aligned with our University Honor Code. We will commit to performing daily health checks, wearing a face covering, participating in testing and contact tracing, following guidance from university or health authorities, and abiding by current limitations for gatherings on or off-campus. The Healthy Elon Commitment will be essential to our success and we will be serious about holding everyone accountable. The Task Force report was clear: “Students who engage in social behaviors that have long been part of the college experience, such as large parties, could spark a widespread outbreak of COVID-19. To those who plan to return to Elon and behave as if they live in a pre-COVID world, the Task Force has a simple message: please stay home.” As you prepare your return to campus, please be ready to take these expectations and commitment seriously.

I am confident we can have a safe, healthy, productive and fun semester on campus this fall. Some have suggested that college students can’t be expected to live together safely in the midst of a pandemic, but I have witnessed Elon students’ response to other difficult challenges in our community in recent years and I know we can do this. Now is the time for all of us to come together for the common good. This is the moment when we will show the world the power of the Elon community.

Please pay careful attention to the information coming out in the coming days and weeks and know how much I’m looking forward to your return to campus in August.

Dr. Jon Dooley
Vice President for Student Life