By Fruma Landa, News Editor
On March 25, President Ari Berman announced Yeshiva University’s COVID-19 updates via email. The announcement included notice that classes will remain online for the rest of the semester, along with news of dormitory closures and Class of 2020’s commencement cancellation. “Our virtual learning for our graduate and undergraduate programs will continue for the remainder of the Spring semester… In addition, we will be offering online classes for students who have returned from Israel in our undergraduate Post Pesach program,” he shared.
Housing will be closed from April 7 for the duration of the semester and the administration is “discouraging students from traveling to campus to retrieve their belongings if it is not urgent to do so.” If there are any updates regarding refunds for housing or credits, the student body will be notified, but at the time of publishing there has been no updates regarding semester refunds.
A student-made petition encouraged students to rally for refunds. “Please sign this petition so that YU will refund its students for their housing and meal plans from the moment we have been online until the rest of the semester,” said the petition. “Housing and meal plans are extremely expensive and during a time like right now we should all be able to receive our money back since it is not being used properly.”
An email from Beren and Wilf Housing announced that in compliance with Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order, PAUSE, they discourage students from returning to campus from now on. Students may return to their dorms after PAUSE is lifted to collect their belongings. The email assures students who will not return to campus until the Fall 2020 semester that Housing will assist with storing student possessions. “[W]e will work with you to store your belongings over the summer, either on campus in some capacity or through an outside vendor,” they shared. If students do not plan on returning in August, Housing will ship their belongings to them.
As the dorms will remain open until April 7, until this time, Beren and Wilf students may sign up for a two-hour slot when they will be permitted to return to campus and collect their belongings. The sign-up link will be open up until midnight of the day before, and “security reserves the right to turn away anyone who did not sign up.” To encourage social distancing, only five residents plus one family member will be allowed per building for each two-hour slot.
Students who are currently living on campus are encouraged to reach out to a Housing administrator as soon as possible. Students who are concerned about perishable items in their fridge can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for assistance in emptying their fridges. It is unclear whether Summer 2020 housing will be available at this time
Dean Nissel shared his thoughts on the Housing updates with the YU Observer: “We are consolidating all remaining residents on campus to as few buildings as possible so that we can limit the number of staff who need to come in. We are working with every single resident individually who needs a place to go, and no one will be left without somewhere to stay.”
Although undergraduate housing will remain closed and classes will continue occurring virtually, the administration ensures that it will continue serving its student body. “Our Student Life team, including our counseling center, disability and academic support, and writing center, continue to work with students,” administrators stated. Virtual employer relation events are still being hosted by the Career Center and the libraries will continue supporting students and faculty virtually.
In addition to classes going virtual for the rest of the semester, Commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2020 will not take place in-person on the scheduled May 26 date. “We will be scheduling virtual commencement ceremonies for both the undergraduate and graduate schools over the next few months,” shared President Berman. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions on how YU can “enhance [their] graduation ceremony.”
Many students do not wish to have a virtual commencement ceremony. Soon after President Berman’s email went out a petition began circulating amongst students. The petition, on behalf of the Class of 2020, encouraged Yeshiva University to form other plans for 2020’s commencement ceremony “Please postpone our graduation ceremony to the Fall of 2020 instead of organizing a virtual ceremony to recognize our efforts and achievements during our cherished time at YU,” the petition pleaded.
While many students are disappointed by the commencement ceremony news, they are relieved by YU’s revised P/N policy for the Spring 2020 semester. SCW and YC students can decide to P/N the courses they are taking that do not fulfill their major requirements. These courses graded P/N will still fulfill graduation requirements. “…[S]tudents will have one week after final grades are posted (June 8, 2020) to complete and submit the Spring 2020 P/N Grade Election form which will be available later on in this semester,” the administration said. Sy Syms and Katz students can choose to P/N two courses of their choice — this applies to non-major and major elective courses, but excludes major and minor requirements. Students are strongly advised to consult with an academic advisor before making the decision to P/N a course.