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Campus & Community

Graduate Student Town Hall Reinforces Campus Community Resources and Responsibilities

September 29, 2020

The “Mario the Magnificent” statue on Drexel’s University City Campus was recently outfitted with a face mask.
The “Mario the Magnificent” statue on Drexel’s University City Campus was recently outfitted with a face mask.

Please visit the ‘Drexel’s Response to Coronavirus’ website for the latest public health advisories.

On Sept. 18, Drexel University’s Graduate College held a special Town Hall for graduate students — the first student population to return to in-person campus operations following the shut-down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The virtual event highlighted health and safety measures students are expected to uphold on campus, COVID-19 surveillance testing details, student resources available both in-person and online, and a Q&A portion to answer burning questions pre-submitted by graduate students.

 

What follows is a lightly edited transcript of the event:

 

Executive Vice President and Nina Henderson Provost Paul E. Jensen, PhD: Before we begin, I want to thank you once again for your continued support and patience. Everyone at Drexel at the graduate level is doing amazing work under difficult conditions.

 

We’re doing everything possible to pivot successfully to meet the needs of our graduate students: with teaching, with research, and in serving our community.

 

Today’s meeting will focus on reviewing the health and safety measures we’re putting in place for the new academic year, and what we all need to do to maintain the health and safety of campus community

 

As you know, the vast majority of our undergraduate courses are going to be fully remote for the fall. Our focus is on ensuring we have safeguards in place to protect our graduate students, faculty and those individuals who are conducting research or working on campus now and during the fall term.

 

So, the work of the Return Oversight Committee, a group focused on all COVID-related operations, continues to be critically important.  We’ll hear about that in a moment from Dr. Marla Gold, who is our director of the Return Oversight Committee.

 

We also have other panelists with us to try to answer your questions.

 

First, I want to introduce Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, senior vice provost of graduate education, who will offer her perspective. Elisabeth?

 

Senior Vice Provost of Graduate Education Elisabeth Van Bockstaele, PhD: Thank you Provost Jensen, and for your leadership during these unprecedented times. Graduate students, welcome to those of you who are new to Drexel and welcome back to those who are returning.

 

Some of you may have already returned to campus at the start of the fall semester or as part of phase 1 and 2 of the Research Ramp Up. A big thank you to [Executive Vice Provost for Research Aleister Saunders, PhD] and his team for the detailed planning and oversight that went into ramping up research activity in a safe manner, and to all the faculty members working with our graduate students. Importantly, much of the success of the Research Ramp Up can be attributed to the leadership of our graduate students.

 

I want to take a moment to recognize your hard work and diligence in following our COVID-19 protocol and for your commitment to adhering to the safety protocols. As we move forward, we want you to know we are all here to support you on your academic journeys despite the challenges of the pandemic.

 

Today, we are here to answer your questions and to hear from Dr. Marla Gold, who has overseen the return-to-campus effort prioritizing a safe and healthy campus community through the adoption of evidence-based public health measures, informed by emerging science in the context of our actual work settings. Now, let me turn it over to Dr. Marla Gold, vice provost for Community Health Care Innovation.

 

Vice Provost for Community Health Care Innovation and Director of the Return Oversight Committee Marla Gold, MD: Thanks Elisabeth. Welcome everyone. While I can’t see you, I can feel that you are here and I’m glad that you’re joining us. I know students are already in with the Kline School of Law and the College of Medicine. We have graduate students doing research in other programs across the campus, and we have a lot of questions that you’ve sent us, and concerns. I’ll be presenting information on how to stay as safe as possible and how to prevent COVID and what to do, of course, if you unfortunately have COVID-19, and a little bit of science, because you’re graduate students, and I want to show you some data along the way.

 

… For everything we know about the science of COVID-19, wearing face coverings that fit correctly at all times in buildings both on our campus and throughout the city of Philadelphia or wherever you live, as well as outside when you can’t safely distance, is the No. 1 thing that you can do to prevent the disease, protect yourself and protect others. A few takeaways from this talk will be outdoors is always better than in when you can do it for your activities, and wear a face covering.

 

… Additionally, we’re going to be talking about coronavirus on campus, the U.S. experience, public health risk reduction measures, testing, baseline surveillance, some services that are available to you, the supports here and resources, and then a Q&A with some of our pre-submitted questions.

 

We get a lot of the same questions which means concerns are the same among a lot of the different stakeholders on campus. It’s really about, “How do I stay healthy?” “How do I avoid disease?” “What do I do when I see people doing things I don’t think they should be doing?” and “How can we all pull through this time together?”

 

… I bet that everybody watching this has read about the outbreaks among students sweeping the nation, and of course it’s because we also have access to testing those students. The point is the young people, particularly between the ages of 18 and 25, are at more risk really because of the kinds of things that young people want to do and are able to do, and we’re going to talk a little bit more about that.

 

… Importantly, we don’t want to make you at the graduate level or any student be the coronavirus police, nor do we want to blame you. Colleges are seen to be the new COVID hotspot largely because of close campus living, dormitories, Greek housing, etc. … As you heard at the beginning, undergraduate is remote learning. While some undergraduates are on campus, except for a small number that are here for College of Nursing and Health Professions, mostly it’s all of you — graduate students and graduate student staff — that are here.

 

So some of the risk of close living in dormitories and Greek Life housing, we don’t have at this time, and we’re getting our messages out about living together closely and activities.

 

The New York Times has been tracking COVID-19 cases on college campuses. As of Sept. 10, they reported 88,000 cases among 1,190 colleges including us, and our numbers are a little bit higher now since Sept. 10. So, it is significant contribution to case numbers.

 

If we look at Philadelphia’s data… the most important thing to notice really is the percent positive has been going steadily down now, and since Aug. 1, the percent positive has been well below five percent. Five percent is used in most locales in our area for being a great place where we can start to open more things in the city. Below five percent positivity is a great number, and of course we want to get as close to zero as possible.

 

I do want to point out around [August] 31st or so that there was a little bit of a bump in the data where it went up above five percent. That represents Temple University. One of these bumps can be us at any time as well. The point here is that what I have to say about our safety on campus is also about our safety and prevention in the city of Philadelphia. What we are able to do here translates to what you are able to do throughout the city. If we together can keep the rates down, we together can keep the restaurants open, we together can keep the gyms open, we together can keep the stores open, and of course together we’re going to keep the campus open. So, all of this is very significant to how we live and how we play.

 

Drexel has a dashboard on the Response to Coronavirus website, which is key for information and also links to the app, so if you’re on your app, under resources you can also zip right back on your phones to our website.

 

The dashboard is very simple at this time. … Importantly, just like the percentage rate [for Philadelphia], we are also well under five percent for what we know on campus. So, we’re matching nicely with the city even though we know we’d like to see no disease at all.

 

This is the point I stress to you: there is no such thing as COVID-free, and we understand that. We are learning to live while the pandemic is happening, and seeing how we can safely move about, study, play, work, and keep our lives moving forward.

 

So our key considerations and objectives, the goals of what we call public health mitigation, the mitigation word means risk reduction and these are measures related to COVID-19. We talk about containing the virus as much as possible. That means testing, finding people who are infected, isolation of those people who are infected, quarantining their contacts through contact tracing, and then moving forward. So, we’re reducing viral transmission and helping us stay health and safe.

 

We aim to make the campus as safe as possible by implementing and maintaining current public health guidelines, supporting sustained changes in behavior. It’s new for all of us. … But we want those changes of behavior to be sustained, and as we all know, for those of us who’ve tried to do other things like lose weight, stop smoking, all of these things take time. So please work on it. We’re providing full health services to our students, all of you, as well as available isolation and quarantine options if you have to do those things and you can’t do them where you live.

 

Risk reduction measures:

  • Wear a face covering – I’ve said it, and I’m just going to keep on saying it. You’re like, “We get it, let’s get to the questions.” I know you do, but we’re still seeing people not wearing masks correctly or not wearing the correct masks. Both are important, and you must be doing it. We all know you may see people in the buildings not wearing them correctly. We’re all learning these behaviors together. The more we’re on campus together, the more we will remember what these social norms are. Then same thing is true of stores in Philadelphia and wherever you live.
  • Washing your hands frequently – While it’s true that surfaces play less of a role than we thought with COVID-19, there is a role and we want your hands clean, particularly if later you’re touching around your nose, your mouth or your eyes where the virus can be transmitted. We’ve made hand sanitizer available throughout the campus as well as soap and water in bathrooms.
  • Social distancing – It’s really physical distancing, but since social distancing is what people recognize, that’s what we’re saying. It’s at least 6 feet. You can see it here on the signage.
  • Drexel Health Tracker – It’s available from the Android or IOS store, Google Play. It monitors your health, and importantly, it gives you a way to communicate with us. If you’re coming to campus, and all of you are or you wouldn’t be listening to this, for your classes, for your research to a lab to a building, check in using the tracker. We know that you’re out there and we want to see that you’re well. You should be receiving a green check on your phone before you come in, and it’s important. It’s also a way to let us know how you’re feeling, so if you’re not coming in and you don’t feel well, and you want directions, we can talk and we can learn, but if you think you have COVID, sometimes we get pretty scared or nervous about what it means. We want to hear from you. If you put in your symptoms… you’ll immediately as soon as you hit submit, get directions on how to call Student Health, and we’re here to help you. We’re here to work with you. So please, communicate with us when you need to.

We have a mandatory health and safety training that you are to do online. You should have received information about that. … It’s short, it’s easy, and it gives you an idea of what the virus is, how it’s transmitted and what to do when you don’t feel well. Those are the things you really need to know and how to protect others. At the end of it appears the Dragon Pledge, which is a collective commitment. It’s not a health waiver, there’s nothing hidden in this language that has us waiving our rights should we get sick on campus. We’re all part of the same campus community. We’re all signing this: faculty, staff and students. … I ask that you read everything in there just like we have, and that you sign, and try to remember what it is you signed when we go over what some of these rules are.

 

Testing:

 

Testing is available for all symptomatic students through Student Health Services. If you don’t feel well, you are to contact Student Health. Please, if you don’t feel well, contact them by phone or by email, and that information is on the app or on our website. Do not show up sick with COVID-19 symptoms, and certainly do not show up sick in buildings with fever or not feeling well.

 

Some of you have asked, but I know I get hay fever every year around this time. Still put in your symptoms. There’s an algorithm in there that gives us a good idea about this, and we still want to talk to you. Occasionally it can be very, very mild and very surprising that it’s still COVID-19, so let us know how you’re feeling.

 

Now, in addition to being there for symptomatic students through Student Health, we are augmenting testing with surveillance screening in key populations. This is giving us a baseline picture. I often say, testing is not a key to the kingdom or the queendom or the persondom. This is not about, you need a test in order to enter the building every day. … But we are augmenting testing, first baseline. So if you haven’t registered yet and you’ve received an email, register. It is painless, easy, and you leave with the result in your hand. It’s information for you and we are paying for it to make it as easy as possible. All the directions of what to do are in the reminder emails.

 

… Why are we doing it? We’re getting a quick picture of what kind of ongoing testing for asymptomatic people we need to be doing, and we are getting that picture, and it’s very important. It will shape our strategy moving forward.

 

 

… We have isolation and quarantine [information], what to do and why. Isolation means that you have COVID-19, and if we find that out, someone from Student Health will call you. They will do contact tracing with you; please cooperate. The City of Philadelphia will also do contact tracing.

 

Quarantine is for those found to be exposed. We first found out if those things can be carried out where you live. If they can’t, on our dime, we offer you University Housing and special places where you have access to Wi-Fi, meals can come to you if it’s isolation, and we do our best. … Remember, you’re contributing to this goal of not having disease spread.

 

As far as contact tracing, it’s very important that when the city calls or when we call and we’re trying to figure out where you’ve been and who you’ve exposed, that you give us the information. I’m saying that because sometimes students, perhaps younger than those of you who are with us today, don’t want to give us the information because they don’t want people to know they were at a party or where they were. Covering up information on disease is a very serious thing, because what happens is there could be people out there infecting others or the hospitalizations begin to rise. We don’t want it, so I know you will speak with us about it. There are Student Conduct [measures] in place, but we’re hoping not to have to activate that kind of campus where it becomes punitive because we can’t move forward together. So, I’m hoping you’ll continue to move forward with us. I’m proud to say that so far, the students we have worked with have been very cooperative and understanding about the situation.

 

… Together, absolutely, we can get through it. Every campus is saying that, but we know we’re up against a lot to move forward together. I’m proud you’re here today getting yourself educated and I hope we’re able to answer more of your questions in the Q&A to follow.

 

Vice President of Drexel Solutions Institute Anna Koulas: Echoing some of the earlier remarks, welcome to Drexel, welcome to a new academic year. We’re very excited to be hosting today’s session, and we’re happy to be able to answer some of the questions that came in. To Marla’s point, you can visit the COVID-19 website. There is a list of FAQs there. Hopefully you’ll find answers to your questions.

 

If for some reason you’re unable to find an answer there and we’re unable to get to your questions by the end of this presentation, we ask that you email us at roc@drexel.edu.

 

We received questions in advance of today’s presentation and we will be going through those questions right now. So, I’m going to begin with Provost Jensen. We have a question from a student wondering if on-campus printing is available to students. This individual is debating on whether to not to actually purchase a printer, and they wanted to know whether or not printers would be available on campus during a pandemic.

 

Provost Paul Jensen: So, there are printing and computing resources on campus available to students. …Through that link, you can identify different facilities on campus that students can use.

 

Anna Koulas: Wonderful. … Speaking of resources, Elisabeth, I’m wondering if you could perhaps answer this question: “What resources are available for graduate courses? For example, for undergraduate courses there are support centers like the Academic Center for Engineers or the Math Student Center. What student resources are available for graduate students on campus and/or virtually?”

 

Elisabeth Van Bockstaele: There are a number of offices intended to support students’ academic success. The Learning Alliance has offices such as the Center for Learning and Academic Success (CLASS), which provides academic coaching and has been really well received by students and often helps students achieve [despite] any academic challenges that they might be facing. There’s also the Drexel Writing Center. This center provides assistance in thinking through and developing writing projects. There are also a number of discipline-specific [resources].

 

We also have a number of offices intended to support you including the Steinbright Career Development Center. This is really focused on helping students achieve career goals. They also put on a number of programs intended to help students, including graduate students, hone professional career goals. Actually, there will be a Virtual Career Fair that will spread over a five-day period, and later this month they’ll be having a pre-fair workshop to tell you all about that.

 

For those students who might be seeking accommodations, please visit the Office of Disability Resources. For those international students who might be seeking tutoring or language support in listening, speaking, reading, writing or vocabulary support, please visit the English Language Center. Please do not forget one incredible resource on our campus is the Drexel University Libraries. We have a number of library staff members that can help you with research projects, with help thinking things through with where to gain access to different materials, so please don’t hesitate to use the Drexel Libraries.

 

Again, during this time of COVID-19, a lot of these resources are available in the virtual format.

 

Anna Koulas: So speaking of research, obviously there have been activities going on this entire time. This question is actually for Aleister: “I’m hoping you can describe our research plans, the current phase that we are in, and the progression that we see research headed in the upcoming term.”

 

Executive Vice Provost for Research Aleister Saunders, PhD: Regarding Research Ramp Up, we’ve been ramping up research slowly since the end of March. We had a very rapid shut down of research and then as guidance came from government officials, we slowly ramped that up. So currently, we’re in Phase 2 which is a maximum of 66 percent of normal operations. We got there by taking an intermediate step to 33 percent activity. So, now in Phase 2, we just opened that up in the beginning of September, and we’re taking very cautious steps, health and safety being the first and the most important aspect of the ramp-up.

 

We have a very defined process for evaluating requests. So, graduate students, you should be working with a faculty member and you have to submit a research ramp-up request that goes through levels of review that ensure your health and safety. We understand the tremendous pressure this puts on your education, your future, and we’re trying to facilitate that. Research can continue safely, and we’ll work with you to get you back into your research setting as safely as possible, as quickly as possible.

 

So right now, we’re in Phase 2 at 66 percent. It’s sort of the beginning of that. At some point, we’ll go to Phase 3 which we’ll call the new normal. When that will be will be dictated by public health concerns. We’ll be taking our cue from Marla and the other leaders on campus about when we should transition to that.

 

If you have any questions about Research Ramp Up — and when I say research, I don’t mean just lab research, I mean research, scholarly and creative activities in all of our disciplines — please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We have an email address in the directory called Drexel Research Ramp Up, and we can answer all of your questions there. If you need help finding that, you can email roc@drexel.edu, that’s the Return Oversite Committee and they can get back to you.

 

Anna Koulas: The next question is actually one that came in from an international student. So Kea, I’m hoping you can help answer this question: “Are international students on F1 visas who are able to do their studies and work remotely required to actually be on campus for visa requirements, and if so, when and how often in order to meet the requirement?”

 

Associate Director for International Student Support Services Kea Glenn: This question can certainly be tricky. With the International Student Support Services (ISSS) world, we have two separate modes of identifying populations. Those two populations are new incoming students, and in order to be classified as a new incoming F1 student, that means this is your first time at Drexel. You’re a brand-new graduate student, maybe you’re even transferring in. Even though you’ve been inside the United States, you’re still considered a new international student, new at Drexel.

 

The other classification is also current and continuing. So with that said, these two populations are actually dealt with differently in reference to this particular question. If you are a new incoming student, the recent Immigration Customs Enforcement and Student and Exchange Visitor Program policies that were recently released in July and August state that new incoming students must suffice at least one credit of face-to-face or hybrid modalities on campus, whereas the current and continuing F1 students are not required to be on campus in any capacity, whether that be living in the dormitories, in a Drexel-affiliated sponsored housing, or physically present.

 

So, if you’re a current or continuing student who submitted this question today, no, there is no physical or geographic requirement for you to be affiliated with Drexel for Fall 2020. Of course, I do want to always add the caveat that the government changes daily. We receive policy updates from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State very often, so please be mindful of your Drexel email accounts that we will be releasing any of these policy updates through. We will also be releasing a quarterly newsletter which is actually going out next week to give you those reminders and to give you a refresher of just how you and your visa status maybe be impacted by COVID-19, the recent Presidential proclamations, and of course Drexel University’s approach to handling all of these things.

 

If you’re concerned about your particular visa status or if you have a unique situation to you or you don’t hold the F1 or J1 student visas, we welcome you to send us an email to isss@drexel.edu. Always be mindful to provide your name and student ID number so that we can specifically help you and your situation.

 

Of course, always visit the Drexel.edu/isss website to make sure that you are looking at those immigration updates.

 

 

Anna Koulas: … Moving along, there were a couple of questions that came in about facilities and things that individuals can do on campus. The next question is geared toward Subir. The question is around the Recreation Center: “When will it be reopened and what social distancing measures will be taking place inside for safety?”

 

Senior Vice President for Student Success Subir Sahu, PhD: We are actively looking to reopen our Rec Center. Those of you who are on campus now may know we are using the facility right now for testing purposes. We’ve had some starts and stops as it relates to reopening the Rec Center with the guidance of the city. So, we’re aiming for an October opening. We haven’t set that date quite yet. We will have fitness floors and multi-purpose courts for cardio and strength equipment. We’ll have the equipment spaced out in socially distanced measures so there’ll be less equipment than normal but it will be enough to utilize certain areas. Our climbing wall, our pool, our squash courts, they will not be open.

 

We’re still working out the details as it relates to use of the locker rooms and looking at more information as it relates to the HVAC systems there. We will likely have some type of reservation system that will limit the number of people in the space, but allow us to have smaller groups in socially distant measures so that we can provide usage of the rec center in a safe and effective way. The reservations will likely be in the 90-minute time frame and will be able to be accessed through our website.

 

We will continue to have some limited in-person group exercises, both in the multi-purpose courts and the fitness plaza outside. We have continued to have virtual opportunities through the Rec Center website which started in the spring. Those will continue throughout the fall, so we’re hoping to continue to engage students in multiple ways as it relates to the Rec Center.

 

Anna Koulas: I’m going to go back to the health issues. You mentioned that currently inside the Rec Center, testing is taking place. So, we received a lot of questions around testing. The who, the what, the where and particularly the why. So this question is for Marla: “Why should baseline testing take place now? Can you perhaps explain who is being tested currently, and what are our future steps around testing?”

 

Marla Gold: So, it is confusing and I’ll give it ago. First, we have, as you would want us to, a scientific advisory group. It’s comprised of key faculty from medicine, public health and nursing, and it’s also infused with data from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. I was remiss not to say at the gate that all of the things you hear us talking about also meet standards from the health department locally as a health authority.

 

In terms of testing, while there’s no gold standard, there’s no evidence-based, 100-percent way to offer testing on a college campus currently in the United States. Every top-notch institution agrees that some form of testing beyond just testing those who are ill needs to be done. So, a scientific advisory group considered the question, “At Drexel, considering our populations, what’s the best way to test and to find people with COVID and to have isolation and quarantine procedures really to reduce the amount of disease and keep people safe?”

 

The scientific advisory group recommended first, baseline testing. Before we did the pivot away from being open to the undergraduate population as well, the plan was to have baseline testing of everyone who would be joining us for the fall quarter in hybrid modality. That changed over time, the decision, based on outbreaks all over the nation, that we needed to regroup and open a little more slowly.

 

So for graduate students, students who are in labs and students who will be entering classrooms for the first time, I know if you’ve been in a lab, you’ve been doing it all summer, and you’re probably like, “Why now, I’ve been doing it all this time?” It is to get a picture in time, what we call Time 0, of the campus community to further refine testing on an ongoing basis. So, baseline testing which is being done rapidly … when I say rapidly, that’s rapid testing, you get the results before you walk out of the gym. Baseline testing is being done to give us a snapshot, not keys to the kingdom, but a snapshot of how much COVID-19 is already in the base population. There’s not scientific article telling us about how much COVID-19 is among people. There’s a thought that maybe 30 to 40 percent of COVID-19 is in asymptomatic people. We have not found that to be true at Drexel, and most college campuses haven’t found it that high that are in cities like ours that have low amounts of disease. So that’s baseline testing.

 

… Beginning sometime in October, asymptomatic people will be chosen randomly with a biostatistical formula for 25 percent of the population, and they will be contacted, we’re working on the ways how now, to come and be tested, hopefully conveniently. We know you have classes and labs and things to do with your school and your research. We will get an idea again by the sampling of how folks are doing with COVID-19 asymptomatic. We have a lot of people with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic or surprised.

 

So I know that’s a long answer, but that gives us an idea. Why not everybody? Logistically it’s not possible. Some students say “we all want to be tested.” Other students say “I don’t want any part of it.” For us, we would be doing surveillance in the dorms and in Greek housing and also among athletes, because those are high-risk populations because of congregate or close living. That congregate nature is the same for ACC high-rises and certain apartments, so we’ll still be sampling that way. So that is the reason why.

 

The last thing I want to say, I should have said it up front. A lot of us are making decisions with available evidence. Like Elisabeth Van Bockstaele said at the beginning, we are working with the science as fast as we can get it, but you know what? Many of you, master’s students working in labs or health professions students working throughout the campus, you’ve got to know this is a time of ambiguity. We’re learning as we go too, so we’re following strategies. You may see more things change as we’re getting daily data from the nation, more data from the health department telling us which way they want us to go and we make the decisions from there.

 

Lastly, if I can, Aleister mentioned earlier that people will be looking to me to expand research to 100 percent. I want to say that while they’re looking to me, I’ll be looking to you, because the way I make the decisions, the way all of us do, is how were doing on campus together, all of us, in terms of preventing disease, isolating, containing, and moving forward.

 

Anna Koulas: Another question that I believe Paul can answer: “[If you are feeling sick] and you let your advisor know that you’re feeling ill, can an academic department head, teacher, instructor, force you to come into class, and what processes are in place for that?”

 

Provost Paul Jensen: One general comment about this. It is important for all graduate students to have a clear understanding with their advisor about their responsibilities. Those responsibilities, whether you’re a research assistant or teaching assistant, may require you to be on campus. But having that clear understanding is important.

 

As Marla stated earlier, and I want to reinforce this: If anyone is not feeling well, they should not be on campus. There’s no scenario in which an advisor is forcing someone who doesn’t feel well to be on campus. If a student is not feeling well, make sure you’re in contact with your advisor so arrangements can be made to cover the responsibilities that need to be covered.

 

Anna Koulas: A question about what we’re doing on campus, and the experience that individuals will have now that the fall term is about to begin next week. So this is for Elisabeth: “How will Drexel ensure there are adequate opportunities to network and meet peers in programs considering the switch to online platforms?”

 

Elisabeth Van Bockstaele: So, first let me say that all of the academic deans here at Drexel are committed to building community and supporting your academic success as you join Drexel. We have an amazing group of deans, as the Provost can tell you, who are eager to support graduate students and build community. That being said, many academic units will be having Town Halls and a number of other opportunities for students to get together and meet each other and communicate in the virtual setting.

 

I just also want to let you know about how the Graduate College also intends to build community and has done so for many years so that students who might be maybe in the College of Computing & Informatics will be able to meet students in the School of Public Health. We do this in a variety of different ways. We have a number of programs. We have a Coffee Hour Seminar Series which hosts a number of topics. We also have a program called Scholar Share where graduate students discuss their research or scholarship to others in different fields to sort of build that interdisciplinary and ability of students to learn from students of other disciplines. The Scholar Share program is a great opportunity to really present your work outside of your area of emphasis and really see the impact it can have in other disciplines.

 

We also have a number of professional development opportunities for graduate students that are usually very popular and well attended. We are very fortunate to have Michael Clancy, who delivers a series of talks on financial literacy, so he’s been extremely popular with graduate students who might be buying a home or thinking about investing or thinking about debt. So really having an opportunity to speak to our graduate students, and he’s actually a Drexel professional staff member, so he is available to you.

 

There are a number of ways we build community. I just also want to say Subir Sahu’s group in Student Life oversee all of the social activities related to graduate student life. We have an incredible executive board of the Graduate Student Association. So, rest assured, there’s a lot of co-curricular programming going on, but there will be a lot of social programming going on as well to support you to build community.

 

Anna Koulas:. Speaking of the student experience, an additional question for Subir: “Where do we dine and how do we do this? I know that there’s a lot of activity on campus and it looks a little bit different than in the past, but can you perhaps share what’s happening on campus and how people can come together? What’s permissible?”

 

Subir Sahu: As it relates to dining on campus, we do have a small number of students who do have dining plans on campus, so we have limited dining locations that are open, most notably on the University City Campus, the Northside Dining Terrace on the residential quad. If you walk around campus, you will see tents in certain areas of campus, most notably our Race Street Lawn and the Korman Quad. Those are open spaces where you can gather and you can eat with social distancing measures in place.

 

As far as our Center City students, we have designated areas within the New College Building where again, we have allowed for dining with social distancing measures in place.

 

Anna Koulas: I think the key to all of this has really been one of the things Marla said in the beginning, which is that we together can make a difference. The health and safety of our community is definitely the No. 1 priority. Mask-wearing whenever on campus whether that be indoors or outdoors, is definitely the top priority for everyone.

 

If there are questions we were not able to get to, please feel free to email us at roc@drexel.edu. I wanted to thank the panelists for taking my questions today, and I want to turn it back over to Elisabeth for some closing remarks. Thank you.

 

Elisabeth Van Bockstaele: Thank you so much, Anna, and thank you for moderating the questions.

 

So, we just want to thank you for joining us today. … I hope that you know and feel reassured by the incredible leadership that Drexel has via Dr. Marla Gold of leading us during these unprecedented times. I also want you to be reassured and confident that our Provost is overseeing our academics in a very rigorous fashion, and we’re all here, all the panelists that joined you today are committed to your success. We are so delighted that you chose Drexel for pursuing your education. We know that there’s something really special about the Drexel student. We will be here to support you during these unprecedented times, so please don’t hesitate to reach out for any questions you have that are lingering after today.