Recently, I was in a webinar, where the host posed a thought-provoking statement. “We tell our students what not to do, we do not tell them how to act.” As we return to our campuses this fall, and welcome students back into their learning environment, I encourage you to consider this.
So much has changed from this time last year. Spring 2020 brought forth new challenges and new expectations as we search for ways to keep campus safe. As students return to class, they are experiencing new challenges as well. Some students have never taken an online class. Others have never been required to wear masks. Some cannot imagine being in a public space without a mask. It is imperative that we clearly articulate our expectations to students and perhaps even include a few suggestions for how to act.
Many campuses are either in-person or hybrid this fall. What will student gatherings look like? How will students make new friends? Will policy enforcement disappear after a long week of classes? Right now, there are so many unknowns. At the beginning of the semester, we can provide the rationale around new policies, as well as opportunities and space for students to connect in line with current guidelines and policies. The more we advertise avenues that are encouraged, the less likely students will be filling in that space with activities that directly violate policies. We will never provide an all-encompassing statement of how to act, but as we dive into a new season on campus, students are seeking out any suggestions we have this semester.