Duke will provide new information on spring semester housing the second week of October, with information on the format of spring courses likely coming then as well, Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost and vice president of student affairs, told the Duke Student Government Senate at its Wednesday meeting.
McMahon and Chris Rossi, assistant vice president of student affairs for strategic engagement, joined the Senate this week to answer questions regarding the impact of COVID-19 on Duke students.
The session was part of an effort by McMahon and the Student Affairs team to "build relationships with student leaders across [campus] in informal and designated elected leadership seats," McMahon said.
McMahon and Rossi answered a variety of questions and provided updates on spring housing, class registration, student mental health and communication with international students.
Housing and course registration
First-years and sophomores will receive information the second week—the first full week—of October regarding housing plans for the spring 2021 semester, McMahon said.
Administrators are looking at campus demand and capacity levels, which includes the number of international students who are currently off campus.
The week of Sept. 14, Duke Housing and Residence Life released a survey to juniors and seniors "to get a sense of how many of them want to be on campus," McMahon said. "So what we're doing right now, is looking at what the demand is for the juniors and seniors for what we have for on-campus housing, and what they need."
Another aspect of planning for spring housing involves local and national policy. For this reason, "our plan for the fall, naturally, has to have some level of flexibility," Rossi said. "Conditions can always change."
"We currently have a good handle on what Duke looks like operating at this level with this current student population," he said. "I think now having that experience, we can continue to make adjustments... in housing."
McMahon said that course registration and class format information will likely be released in the second week of October, along with the housing update.
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"Mental health stuff is right in the middle of all our responsibility," McMahon said, regarding concerns about students’ mental health and the lack of a fall break this semester. "We are conscious of the fact that getting out of your room and connecting with people is very important… I recommend leaning out and talking to people and the administration."
Questioned about the possibility of a day off from classes, McMahon brought up the questions of logistics, but said that she was open to collaborating with students to work toward a solution.
First-year Brandon Qin raised questions regarding a lack of information relayed to remote students.
The Student Affairs team currently "does not have somebody who's got a designated remote student support role [for international students],” McMahon said.
She said that Student Affairs is hoping to host an "opener tea and coffee hour" for remote students to facilitate dialogue between international students and the administration.
In other business
DSG confirmed amendments to the senate bylaws, which included grammatical corrections and increased the number of senators in each committee from 10 to 11.
"The change was made because there were a lot of great applicants this year," sophomore Sawyer O'Keefe said. "Especially during this time, we felt like it was really important to make Duke Student Government more inclusive."
The Durham and Regional Affairs Committee was renamed the Durham and Community Affairs Committee.
Sophomore Luke Vermeer, sophomore Dan King, junior Meghna Mahadevan, junior Nehal Jain and sophomore Hana Hendi were unanimously confirmed into the Senate.