Oct. 9: Important Update for Bates Students

Dear Students,

I write today with a few updates and reminders. This message addresses five critical topics:

  1. Adhering to public health practices and being good neighbors
  2. Gathering and building community
  3. Notifying the college if your plans for the winter semester change
  4. Where to eat meals
  5. Selecting Module B weekday lunch time

Adhering to Public Health Practices and Being Good Neighbors

I continue to be impressed by the way you have adapted to our public health requirements on and off campus. As you know, until an effective vaccine is broadly available, we must remain committed to our layered health precautions and we will continue to follow guidance from the Maine governor’s office and CDC, in order to have the best chance of remaining open.

That said, I am concerned with what students are sharing with me about an increase in social gatherings in the residence halls, with groups of students from different residences meeting in private rooms, not wearing face coverings, and not practicing physical distancing. These unsafe behaviors could quickly lead to eliminating in-person courses and perhaps even the on-campus experience. I know that this is not what any of us want, but it is the likely outcome if we let down our guard now and engage in behaviors that are highly likely to spread the virus. With this in mind, I want to remind you that we will continue to have Campus Safety do walk-throughs of residence halls and intervene as necessary. I am sorry that we are in this position, but the stakes are high for everyone, and we would be irresponsible not to take action.

Regrettably, we have had a number of students who have been required to return home and switch to remote learning because of violations of the Student Public Health Agreement. The reasons are varied but relate to students being in residence halls they do not live in, hosting guests who are not Bates students, and not complying with the COVID-19 testing requirements, including repeatedly missing testing appointments. 

Students who have violated our public health standards have been surprised by the seriousness with which we have taken these infractions, and by the swiftness with which they have been removed from college housing and switched to remote learning. I want to be clear: if you are found in any residence other than your residence hall, miss scheduled testing appointments, or violate other aspects of the public health agreement, the likely outcome is that you will be sent home and switched to remote learning. We urge students to adhere to our public health requirements to keep both the Bates community and the broader Lewiston-Auburn community as healthy as possible. As much as we may wish to return to what it used to be like on campus before COVID-19, this will not be possible for the foreseeable future. We need to work together to acclimate to this “new normal,” as this will be the Bates experience for some time.

Additionally, we have heard many concerns from neighbors regarding an increase in noise and student foot traffic since the start of the semester, specifically in the Frye and White Street neighborhoods. Students who live on these streets should be careful and considerate when gathering outside on porches and in yards. While you may be in compliance with our public health policies, we ask you to be mindful of how your behavior may negatively affect other members of the community. For those who do not live in these neighborhoods, please do not congregate or wander in groups large or small. Especially late at night, even a few students talking can be disruptive to our neighbors, and if you have consumed or are carrying alcohol, you risk being cited by Lewiston Police.

Gathering and Building Community

We understand that students want to socialize with friends, meet new people, and have fun. Last week, I shared that we have identified a number of spaces for students to use for small gatherings and programming with extended hours into the evening and night. In addition, students in the same residence hall or house may gather in rooms and lounges as long as they practice physical distancing, wear face coverings, and limit the size of such gatherings to 10 people or less.

Students are encouraged to utilize resources available to support student-led programming and events. Late at Bates provides funding for any individual student, club, group, or organization with the tools to host events and programs. This is an excellent way for students to gather with friends from other residences and remote classmates at a time when it is important for students to take the lead in creating social opportunities that are safe and attend to their interests.

Every weekend, the Office of Campus Life hosts in-person events on campus and also virtual programming. Student clubs and organizations are actively providing students with opportunities to connect over shared interests. Follow Bates Campus Life on Instagram for more details. Student clubs welcome inquiries and new faces. If you are interested in connecting with club members to learn more, you can visit Campus Life’s club directory page and to learn more, including who to contact information. Students should also check out Bates Today, the electronic newsletter emailed to you Monday through Saturday.  Bates Today curates a variety of student events, programs, and other important information, not just from Campus Life, but a number of offices on campus.

We also continue to design and offer election-related programming. You can learn more about these programs on this website, which continues to be updated regularly.

Notifying the College if Your Winter Semester Plans Change

Thank you all for completing the Winter Attendance Questionnaire to inform us about your plans for next semester. We understand that these plans may change following your submission this week. If that is the case, please contact Faith Hauger in Student Affairs at studentaffairs@bates.edu or 207-786-6220. For several reasons, including billing and planning for student housing, the college needs to have the most up-to-date information about your plans for the winter semester. Please note that those students who elect to switch from remote learning to on-campus learning after the initial submission of the Winter Attendance Questionnaire will be placed on the housing waitlist.

Where to Eat Meals

I also want to remind you to eat your meals outside or in your residence hall, not in academic or administrative buildings. Since eating necessarily means that you will not be wearing your face covering, please remember to be at least six feet apart from any other person while eating or drinking.

We realize that the season is turning colder and that we have successfully managed the spread of COVID-19 thus far, but we are not in a position to open indoor spaces, beyond residence halls, for dining together. That said, you should feel free to gather in common spaces within your residence halls, as long as you keep your group size under ten and maintain physical distancing. Your observance of the public health measures are the reason we have been successful in keeping the campus safe so far. As more activities move inside, we need to be more—not less—vigilant with face coverings, physical distancing, and other public health behaviors. We will continue to work with Dining to facilitate breakfasts that can be picked up at dinner, and bring other conveniences to dining in a pandemic setting. 

Reminder about Selecting Module B Weekday Lunch Time 

With Module B fast approaching, please remember to select your weekday lunch time slot and location for Module B. To do so, in Garnet Gateway click on the dining tab under your “To-Do” list and then select your lunch meal times and locations. You must sign up for a lunch time slot and location for all weekdays no later than next Friday, October 16, 2020. Your new dining schedule will begin on Monday, October 19, 2020.  If you cannot find a time that meets your needs due to a class conflict, please contact Jenny Graves at jgraves2@bates.edu for assistance.

For the most updated dining information, including hours of operation, menu offerings, COVID-19 FAQs, and contact information, please go to Bates dining website.

Thank You and Important Reminder

In closing, I want to thank you for your continued support and patience as we adjust to a new way of living and learning together. We have been fortunate to have only a couple of active student cases so far, but I am reminded of just how quickly COVID-19 can spread on a college campus. The most recent example of this is at Trinity College. As of October 7, Trinity College has 21 active student cases and has suspended all in-person classes. With this in mind, we cannot become complacent about adhering to public health practices. Consistently following these basic practices offers us our best shot at continuing to offer in-person courses and an on-campus Bates experience.

I will continue to provide you with regular updates as we navigate the remainder of the fall semester together.

All my best,

Joshua McIntosh
Vice President for Campus Life