Skip to main content

For Students: Planning Your Start to Fall Semester

August 7, 2020

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Lori Reesor shared the following message with undergraduate and graduate students via e-mail on August 7.

Dear Badgers,

We are looking forward to welcoming many of you to campus and others virtually to our Badger community in just a few short weeks. Of course, things will look different this year with more virtual than in-person classes, limits on gatherings, and health protocols to keep us safe and help keep our campus open, but we are committed to providing the best student experience possible this semester.

For months, the university has been monitoring the pandemic and planning a safe return to campus. Our success relies on every member of the Badger community stepping up to keep our community healthy. No one expects the pandemic to go on forever, but in the meantime we all need to do our part protecting each other, and we are all depending on one another’s commitment to make this work. We need YOU to do your part to keep us all safe.

Before You Arrive on Campus: If you are currently living outside of Madison, we ask that you get tested for COVID-19 before traveling to campus. If you test positive or have any symptoms of COVID–19, please do not travel until your isolation period has ended. If you are already in Madison and are COVID-19 symptomatic or have been near someone who tests positive, please get tested on campus before you begin in-person classes. Be sure to communicate with your instructors if you are unable to make it to the start of classes. They understand this is a possibility and are prepared to work with you to provide alternative ways to complete your work.

Health and Safety: We will be asking undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff physically on campus to agree to a set of behaviors that protects their health and the health of our community. Near the start of the semester, you will receive a welcome kit from your residence hall staff or, if you live off campus, you can pick one up at the University Bookstore – it will contain two face coverings, hand sanitizer, and important health information. Face coverings, frequent handwashing, physical distancing, and size limits on in-person gatherings are all being used to keep our community safe. Make a plan now so that you know what to do if you become ill or exposed and need to isolate or quarantine.

Equity and Inclusion: We are at a time in the United States where our systems of inequity and racism are being challenged more than ever. The changes we are beginning to see are long overdue and will last only if we are intentional in our actions. It’s important that we all examine our biases and make it a priority to learn more about our own identity and culture as well as that of others. It’s on each of us to build a community where all are treated with respect and where every single Badger feels welcome, included, and safe.

Your Wisconsin Experience: The student experience is going to look different this year, that is certain, but our values and commitment haven’t changed. In-person and virtual programming among our student organizations, residence halls, and student centers are underway. Student cohorts will also be offered at the start of semester to help connect with and get to know your peers. The Wisconsin Union, our recreation facilities, and libraries have reconfigured their spaces to provide safe places for students to go outside their residence halls or apartments. And you can still enjoy a table on the Terrace – now by reservation to maintain a safe environment.

We know this year has presented many challenges and tough choices. Each of us has been tried in some way, too, and will be carrying those experiences with us – COVID-19 health concerns or financial hardships, the struggle against bias or racism, and heightened anxiety about a future that feels uncertain. We have worked tirelessly to think through and plan for all that’s to come this semester, but the reality is that even the best-laid plans are imperfect. Be patient and kind with one another and yourselves. Every missed opportunity, heartache, or loss offers a chance to grow in resilience when we choose to support one another and to keep moving forward.

Stay healthy and safe, Badgers. We are here for you and can’t wait to connect with you this fall.

On, Wisconsin!

Lori Reesor, PhD

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs

P.S. We hope to “see” you at our virtual town halls next week: Creating Your Wisconsin Experience and Diversity and Belonging in the Student Experience.