Transylvania President Brien Lewis and Interim Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Michael Covert sent the following message to students returning to campus for the 2020-21 academic year.
Welcome back to Transy — and to our entering first-year students, welcome to the first phase of your college life. We know it is a different experience than any of us wanted. Keep in mind that in the months and years ahead there will be much more to come, including in-person classes, activities and interactions. We cannot wait to have everyone back on campus as one community.
To say that 2020 has proven challenging for us all is a huge understatement. Yet we continue to watch students, faculty and staff approach the current COVID-19 scenario with a creative, silver-lining mentality. Each of you has been given the choice of how you want to begin this educational year — in person or virtually.
For those who have opted for the residential campus experience, it is great to have your energy here. We know the decision to return during a pandemic was hard for some of you, and your families likely analyzed the pros and cons. In the end, by coming to campus you have committed yourself to follow our crucial Transy Together Social Contract, which serves to protect our community.
We want to reinforce how incredibly important these next few weeks are to you, and to Transylvania overall. The choices you make each day will dictate how quickly our campus can fully reopen. Most importantly, your actions will enable every Pioneer to remain healthy and safe.
It has been a few years since we were in your shoes, yet we recall feeling invincible. Yet in this environment, that can be a dangerous mentality. The pandemic is bigger than each of us. It will take ALL of us, acting smartly and responsibly, to emerge from the environment we’re currently experiencing.
We know Transy students are smart, caring and responsible. We believe we can begin Module 2 effectively. However, we have watched other institutions begin their residential experiences unsuccessfully — usually due to student attendance at large social events both on and off campus. This has resulted in many universities moving students into residence halls, only to send them back home within days. We want better than that for Transy!
Students who do not follow the Healthy at Transy guidelines will experience appropriate consequences. These may include removal from the residence halls and ceasing in-person classroom attendance. Please remember that Transy follows state guidelines, which currently allow gatherings of no more than 10 people, with social distancing present. This holds true for both on-campus and off-campus social activities and events. Student violations will be addressed through the Transylvania student conduct process. If you are concerned about any member of the community not following the guidelines, including hosting or attending a gathering of more than 10 people, please use this form so that we can address those behaviors through the student conduct process.
Our resolve to maintain our residential option remains strong. We are counting on you to take the lead — there is no other way to succeed. We know most students will make the right choices to benefit our community. If you are unwilling to do so, then you should not be a campus resident this semester. Our handling of the pandemic can literally be a matter of life and death for someone, and we will not make excuses for anyone acting otherwise.
We will all be together again to celebrate Transylvania’s handling of this once-in-a-lifetime situation. Until then, make the best choices to take care of yourself and others. Minimize possible risks and socialize smartly. We’re glad you’re part of the Transylvania community and the Pioneer family. We can do this!