June 8, 2020
To all UofSC Graduate Students:
First of all, let me repeat the message the Graduate School shared via social media last week.
As a Carolinian, …
I will respect the dignity of all persons;
I will respect the rights and property of others;
I will discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from differences in people, ideas and opinions.
The words of the Carolinian Creed were written by and for UofSC students, but they also reflect values and expectations of our entire university community. Over the past few months, we have seen the consequences of systemic racism in the disparate impact of COVID-19 across the country. In the past weeks, we have seen racism across our country in the tragic deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and now in our own community in the protests and reactions to them. These events and the hateful words we have each seen and heard do not reflect who we are at the University of South Carolina or in the Graduate School. May we each find ways to advocate for justice and peace in our world, for an end to racism, violence and inequities.
I also encourage you to read President Caslen’s letter, distributed earlier today. There are many challenges to address the systemic racism in our community and in our nation, and I commit the Graduate School to our role in this process here at UofSC.
We also will support and participate in the efforts of the Council of Graduate Schools expressed in a recent statement : “We affirm our commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion at all levels of graduate education. We will continue working with our members to make programs more diverse and accessible, to promote diversity as a principle that supports the learning of all students, to deepen our understanding of inclusive mentoring practices, and to provide inclusive and accessible student support services. Of equal importance, we commit to helping our students develop the conceptual frameworks and analytic methods necessary to understand social and economic forms of injustice, in all their manifestations. We also commit to helping them develop the leadership skills necessary to begin building a better, more just society. To paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, we must create graduate programs and institutional cultures that prepare students to be the change this world so desperately needs.”
All graduate students are eligible to request a grade of S+/S/U through the Spring 2020 Pass Fail Grade Request Form. This option is available through July 1, 2020. Additional information can be found on the Graduate School website.
Summer Operations and Campus Return
Beginning last week, UofSC is slowly beginning to return more than essential personnel to campus. By now, you have probably heard of the Future Planning Group process that has addressed all aspects of our University’s return to full functioning. This is driven by four core principles:
- To ensure the health, safety and welfare of faculty, staff and students in the campus community
- To mitigate the risk of resurgence of COVID-19
- To maintain academic and research excellence
- To sustain university operations and prepare the institution for the return of students
Additionally, Human Resources distributed Return to Work Plan guidance to execute a plan for faculty, staff and student employees (collectively, employees) to return to work on the UofSC Columbia campus in a phased-in manner over the summer months in order to prepare for the campus to be fully open and operational at the beginning of the fall semester. This plan is available on the COVID-19 website.
Officially, most courses are online for the summer. However, there are several different processes by which select graduate students can return to campus. In general, your program director or work supervisor should inform you if and when you can come to campus. In some cases, access is intentionally staggered (by days or by shifts), to minimize the number present at any point in time.
- Deans may authorize student employees to come to campus for work. If you were approved
during the spring for research-critical responsibilities, that extends for the summer
if your employment continues. The majority of student employment hiring submission
that I have seen specify remote work, but your supervisor or a unit administrator
may tell you that you can work on campus, e.g., for access to laboratory resources.
Campus access for student employees is monitored through the Return to Work plan for
your respective unit.
- A small number of programs, most in the health professions, are bringing cohorts students
to campus for select activities. If you are in one of these programs, you should
have heard from your program director or other administrator. In addition, academic
units may approve individual access for particular needs. Campus access for academic
programs is approved through the Summer Operations and Campus Return (SOCR) process.
- Select groups of students are approved for extracurricular activities, e.g., student athletes, bands and ROTC. Campus access for extracurricular activities is approved through the SOCR process.
We are encouraging all faculty, staff and students to be tested for COVID-19 infection. In addition, anybody coming to campus will be asked to complete a daily self-monitoring assessment. The most comprehensive information about testing is provided by Student Health Services. Select groups will be required to have testing, but you will be informed directly if you are in one of these groups.
The University is suspending all university sponsored or affiliated travel, both domestic and international until further notice. This suspension of travel includes travel that is reimbursed from the University funds or grant funds. The Travel Advisory and Policy Statement on the COVID-19 does not show current dates, but the Controller has indicated these restrictions are in place until further notice. Most professional meetings have been cancelled or rescheduled for virtual delivery. If students need to travel to conduct research, they should discuss with their supervisor.
Fall Schedule and Campus Activities
Your faculty have worked over the past month to revise the fall course schedule to accommodate demand for social distancing in the classroom and the needs of both faculty and students who are at higher risk to be in the classroom. You should have received a general communication from the Office of the Provost late last week and more specific guidance from your advisor or program director. Over the next few weeks, be sure to look at your fall schedule to see if any changes made and if you want to make any additional changes. Be aware that additional changes to the fall course schedule are anticipated as we update classroom assignments and address particular needs of both faculty and students.
UofSC President Caslen, SGA president Issy Rushton and your own GSA president Maggie Carson will host a Town Hall for students (and parents) this Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. to address some of the questions that we are hearing about returning to campus for the fall semester. The information for how to join should be posted on the COVID-19 website shortly.
As always, please reach out to the Graduate School using the general email@example.com email or to me directly if you have any questions or concerns.