Greetings from Campus

Dear Students and Families,

I hope that by now most of you are settled in at home or somewhere else safe and are beginning to adjust to this new and strange reality. These past two weeks have been stressful and disorienting for everyone, and it seems that we will be living with this situation for some time to come. I want to thank all of you – students and families – for rallying last weekend and moving so swiftly and graciously to respond as the circumstances required.

Tomorrow, classes will resume, and I wanted to be in touch personally to welcome you back to your Bates semester. Faculty have been hard at work preparing to convene their classes in new forms, and they are putting a great deal of thought and effort into this unexpected project that landed on them, as it has on you, two-thirds of the way through the semester. There is much to think through on both ends: synchronous vs. asynchronous sessions to accommodate different time zones, how to complete a lab or performance course remotely, how to organize group work to build community when the texture of face-to-face interactions is no longer an option.

When the starting bell rings tomorrow, I am sure we will encounter challenges and frustrations, as the entire education universe – kindergarten through graduate school – moves to remote learning at once. Our wonderful, dedicated ILS staff have worked with many of you this past week on connectivity and other technical matters, and they stand ready to troubleshoot any issues that arise. So call the Help Desk if you need to, and don’t panic if you don’t immediately get through. Please know that faculty will be flexible and forgiving as everyone works to get comfortable with new modes of learning.

This global pandemic is an unprecedented event that brings each and every one of us face to face with profound uncertainty, with worry for loved ones, and with dislocation in all aspects of life. But this is also, by its nature, a shared experience, and it offers opportunities for growth, purpose, and generosity.

As we hunker down for the weeks ahead, I hope that there are moments of joy and humor to be found in this different kind of time that has opened up for us, however unplanned. Some people will find themselves juggling frantically to work from home, while also trying to teach their children, keep a household together, and care for loved ones who may be vulnerable. For others, this will be a quieter time, where we spend more hours alone or with family than we have in our entire lives. Where boredom, rather than busyness, becomes the problem we manage around. Where nature becomes a treat to be cherished after hours cooped up on screens. Where our hunger for human connection becomes a reality so present that we are less inclined – forever – to take a friend or a loved one for granted.

So, even as we may be physically separated from one another, please remember to reach out to the people you cherish, especially those for whom this time may pose particular difficulties. And be sure to take good care of your minds, bodies, and spirits.

The campus is a quiet and lonely place with most of you gone, but the Bates community remains connected and strong. Please stay in touch and tell us how you are doing, and we will do likewise.  

My very best,