In the coming weeks, the thousands of Penn students who will come to campus from around the world globe face a unique set of challenges as they adjust to a hybrid semester. These hurdles will be faced most intensely by residential advisors and graduate associates, who are students that work for the University and are integral to dorm life.
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After temporarily closing in mid-March, Pottruck Health and Fitness Center and other Penn fitness facilities will are preparing to reopen under a phased approach throughout the fall semester.
As the start of the academic year approaches, students, faculty, and families alike continue to worry about exactly what the fall semester will look like. The University announced its plan for a hybrid semester in late June, with all students invited back to campus but most learning taking place remotely. Penn’s announcement also included a Student Campus Compact which stated that all community members must agree to wear facial coverings in public, avoid large gatherings of all types, and follow other health-related guidelines. Still, many questions about social life and safety remain.
Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) sent a letter to Penn President Amy Gutmann asking for details on what percentage of Penn’s endowment assets are managed by diverse-owned firms.
Not all students who were committed to living in greek housing for the coming school year will be permitted to do so after new guidance from Penn requiring students to live in single bedrooms.
Since Penn announced its decision to pursue a hybrid model for the upcoming semester, students are trying to decide whether or not to return to campus this fall. With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Philadelphia and elsewhere, it is not unlikely that quarantine restrictions will be reinstated and University operations will need to be adjusted. The University’s June 25 announcement of the hybrid model acknowledges that “some plans could change, depending upon the progression of the virus and/or applicable state and local government guidance,” and Chief Wellness Officer Benoit Dubé reaffirmed that the University’s plan to bring students back to campus is “not immutable.”
Although Penn announced that students can return to campus for the fall 2020 semester, the experience will be very different from what students are used to. Among other changes, all classes with 25 or more students will be conducted online, on-campus housing will be less dense, and all in-person activities will conclude before Thanksgiving break.
Penn announced Thursday that students will be invited to return to campus for the fall 2020 semester under a hybrid model of instruction. The official announcement detailed changing housing and dining policies, an updated academic calendar, expectations for adherence to a new Student Campus Compact, and other new policies relating to campus life.
In January 2021, 2013 Engineering graduate Rick Krajewski will take office to represent Philadelphia’s 188th district, which encompasses Penn’s campus in University City.
The novel coronavirus pandemic and subsequent nationwide shutdown mean the coming academic year will be unlike any the Penn community has experienced before. If students are allowed back on campus in a few months, masks will be the norm up and down Locust Walk, in-person classes will likely be outnumbered by Zoom meetings, and group activities will be limited to small gatherings.
This summer, Penn is introducing an online educational program for rising Philadelphia high school seniors — aiming to provide free preparatory college and career-related instruction to thousands of students.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Paideia Program announced its first class of undergraduate fellows last week.
For the past few days, cities around the country have erupted with protests against racist policing following the brutal murder of George Floyd and many other Black individuals at the hands of police officers. Philadelphia has been no exception, as citizens flock to the streets to join the nationwide protests. Penn must hear the voices of these protesters both in the streets and online through petitions to take concrete actions to reduce its complicity in racial violence. The University can take immediate action by disarming the Penn Police Department, and banning the “box” asking about prior criminal records from its application for admission.
If there is anything to be learned from this time of rampant unemployment and violent protests, it is that our lives are fragile and our institutions are fallible. The pandemic and police brutality against Black Americans highlights the need for policy that outlives political cycles — policy that has staying power even as the world becomes a world that we do not know. Furthermore, the global crisis has emphasized that our society relies deeply on the strength of its workers, and that the laws that protect them in return often fall short of their sacrifice.
University administrators released an email last week outlining four contingency plans for the fall semester, ranging from some in-person classes to a fully digital approach. The email stated that among other policies, the University is evaluating a plan to house fewer students in the College House system.
Statehouse representative Jim Roebuck faces three challengers in the primary election for the 188th Pennsylvania House district, which encompasses University City.
Civil rights activist Reverend Al Sharpton sent a letter to Penn President Amy Gutmann asking her to release demographic data about the diversity of Penn’s asset managers.
Professor Ezekiel Emanuel warned of a second wave of United States coronavirus infections at a virtual Perry World House event on Wednesday morning.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has taken an enormous toll on communities worldwide, both physically and mentally. While people are told to practice social distancing and celebrate events together yet apart, many are suffering from newfound or worsening mental health issues as a result. Penn's student population is far from immune to these conditions — nearly one in five college students have reported significant declines in their mental health as the pandemic progresses. The isolation experienced by many students of all backgrounds can lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and many other challenges.
Penn’s administration often champions our campus’s diversity — students who come to Penn each have unique experiences and identities. This said, amid the current COVID-19 pandemic, different students are experiencing the pandemic in extremely different ways. Students have galvanized their voices throughout the online semester to ensure that Penn’s administration hears their point of view, successfully demanding a delayed in-person commencement for the Class of 2020, an extended pass/fail deadline, and payment for Penn’s contracted dining workers who were laid off from Bon Appétit Management Company.