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Dean Gorman discusses spring semester and accommodations at SA Senate

Channing Wang/Thresher

By Savannah Kuchar     10/20/20 10:13pm

The format and calendar of the spring semester are currently being designed based on feedback from this fall, according to Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman, who addressed these and other concerns at the Student Association’s virtual Senate meeting Monday night.

At the Q&A session, Gorman addressed multiple questions from students regarding academic accommodations in the spring, stating that the administration is currently in the process of discussing this. According to Gorman, their conversations are factoring in responses from students on a mid semester survey that was sent out by Gorman in early October.

“I think one of the things we did not pay attention to going into this semester was the consequences of [the semester] going quicker,” Gorman said. “The flavor and flair [of academic stress] has shifted in a way that is just challenging and kind of pushing our buttons in different ways. I can say for sure that we definitely heard you all loud and clear around the need for breaks in the spring semester calendar.”

Gorman said she does not expect the spring semester to look much different from this fall, as COVID-19 continues to remain a leading concern.

“We just haven’t made the kind of progress nationwide around the virus that we would have liked to have seen in terms of vaccines,” Gorman said. “Maybe by summer, we’ll be in a place where we can really start to talk about changing our posture for fall. But that combined with everyone’s general nerves around winter… and if you’ve been paying attention to the news, you see numbers are going up around the country again. So all this to say, I think our posture for spring is pretty much going to be very similar to what we see for fall.”

Regarding the Phase 2 CARES Act money, Gorman said the administration is in the midst of discussing and deciding what to do with the roughly $1.5 million in federal aid. She said that while the money will still go to benefiting students, it will not be used in a direct disbursal to students in the same way that the first $1.9 million was used.

“We’re going to be allocating some of the money toward access and opportunity for things that students need that are COVID-related,” Gorman said. “For example, we’ve already started using some of these for COVID-related financial aid appeals that have started going through … So it’s going to be parsed out in different ways, all of them directly benefiting students, but not in the same distribution manner that we did with the first half.”

One student asked about the term “Culture of Care” and whether its repurposing for the pandemic could encourage broader redefinition in the future. 

“I absolutely think that one of the strengths of [the Culture of Care] is that it’s not a static thing,” Gorman said. “And I think that based on what’s happening at the moment, it can be something that we move around and emphasize different things based on what we need the most at the moment.”

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