DSU has taken the virtual route for the rest of the semester. The administration has set up various resources to help students, faculty and staff through this uncertainty. Photo illustration by Breanna Biorato.
By Hannah Hickman and Samantha Ortiz
As the threat of COVID-19 rises, the university body is experiencing more changes.
President Richard “Biff” Williams said the university is taking precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. With the shutdown of the university, he said he and others in Dixie State University’s administration are working on easing problems that may arise.
As far as how the university’s revenue has been affected, Williams said there are measures in place to help ease the burden on the DSU community.
“We are making sure that students, faculty and staff are not having to bear the brunt of the costs associated with canceling all university-sponsored travel,” Williams said.
DSU’s study abroad programs are canceled through March 31. All study abroad programs are on hold for the time being.
As part of the housing and travel plan, Williams said students who choose to move out of on-campus housing between March 12 and April 7 will be offered a reimbursement. The money can be reimbursed through students’ MyDixie account or can go toward housing payments next year. For more information, contact Director of Housing Seth Gubler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 435-652-7570.
Equipment such as computers are being provided to students, faculty and staff who don’t already have access to communicate and have effective remote learning. Williams said the cost is covered by the university’s general fund.
While the university continues to do remote learning, Williams said he is doing everything in his power to prevent job loss for faculty and staff. Campus jobs that students hold are continuing, such as the writing center and the library; however, it’s unknown which — or if — specific positions were discontinued.
Virtual teaching and learning
With the changes the university is facing, Williams said the DSU administration has been putting measures in place to help support faculty’s efforts to assist students. He said he has been working with others in administration to get things such as housing and technology in order to accommodate students. Any information regarding the coronavirus can be found on DSU’s resource page.
Williams said a guide was assembled to help provide faculty with resources to better help students with remote learning.
The 21-page guide was given to faculty and staff when Gov. Gary Herbert made his announcement on March 12 that institutions would offer classes remotely. The guide includes steps and resources on how faculty and staff can better help students while learning remotely.
With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading, DSU has been working toward making students’ learning experience easier with the move to online classes, said Provost Michael Lacourse, vice president of academic affairs.
The DSU administration is currently discussing the possibility of offering a pass/fail option that would help students who are struggling in some of their courses. As of now, Lacourse declined to disclose any information about the plan because it has not yet been finalized.
“I want to give faculty and staff the recognition they deserve for being able to turn their classes upside down and create a plan that accommodates their students,” Lacourse said.
Lacourse said the faculty wants to make sure they take into consideration how implementing a pass/fail option may affect students and gather all the information before finalizing its decision.
Resources to help with coping
Lacourse said new videos have been released on DSU’s Instagram page, @dixiestate, in an effort to help ease students of the stress that comes with transitioning to remote learning.
“If students are having any trouble, then they should reach out to their academic advisers,” Lacourse said. “They are trained and have the resources to help students navigate through these situations.”
Students can find and contact their respective advisers here.
Stress that may come with remote learning includes the fear of not passing and the question of scholarship availability.
Williams stated in an email sent out on March 27, “Effective immediately, DSU will extend this year’s in-state scholarship deadline to June 1 to assist our students and community.”
The university has also implemented a new mental health resource for students called Student Pulse, which allows students to stay connected and receive help during this difficult time.
“Student responses are all confidential and — depending on the answer — there are various replies sent out to keep students feeling encouraged and supported,” said Skye Clayton, social media and digital marketing coordinator.
Moving forward, Lacourse said the university is still planning to get back to business as usual during the summer and fall 2020 semesters as long as the State Health Department allows it. If not, classes will continue to be taught remotely until the ban on in-person learning is lifted, Lacourse said.
“We are listening to students and responding to any concerns they may have,” Williams said. “With more than 10,000 students, our biggest challenge is meeting the specific needs that pertain to unique circumstances experienced by each and every one of our students.”