College to Move Online for Remainder of Spring 2020 Semester

Drew Kaplan '20, Editor-In-Chief

Dickinson College will conduct the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester online. Students are directed to remain away from Carlisle, and instead remain in contact with professors remotely.

Announced in an email sent on March 16 to the Dickinson College community by President Margee Ensign, all non-essential access to the Dickinson College campus is now suspended until further notice. Ensign said that students will be contacted by professors before March 23 as online learning plans are developed to continue classes, which had been due to resume in person on March 23. This comes after an announcement by Ensign on March 11 extending spring break by an additional week, ending on March 23 rather than March 16. 

“We are all living through extraordinary times” said Ensign, “This is not a decision we take lightly, and it is certainly not the decision we would prefer.”

Ensign said that the goal of the college is to have students complete their academic credits despite the disruption caused by the transition to online classes. According to a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on the Dickinson College website, some courses may be assessed as incomplete, and faculty have the option of making their courses marked as for credit or not for credit. Students may also opt to have letter grades converted to for credit after the semester ends. Some courses may also be continued into the summer. For courses involving laboratory work, performances or presentations, students are directed to communicate with faculty members directly.

The college has informed students that they will need to select a time during which they return to campus to collect belongings. Permanent move out times, ranging from March 18 to April 5, are split into either morning or afternoon times. According to the FAQ page, this staggered move out is intended to reduce the population density of the college during moveout. The college will ship one small box of personal items collected from students’ rooms if students request, but are requested to return to campus to collect most items. No college provided shuttle services from Harrisburg or elsewhere are available.

Students are able to remain on campus if they successfully petition to do so. Students may apply to remain if personal or family situations make returning home either impossible or impractical. However, college services were be limited for students who remain. The Waidner-Spahr Library and Kline Center are closed, and the only dining option open is the Grab & Go. The Wellness Center will operate on limited hours. Ensign explained that no routine Wellness Center appointments are available. Instead, students should contact the Wellness Center directly if in need of assistance. College employed staff scheduled to continue work will continue to be paid through March 31. A “modified staffing arrangement” will go into effect on March 23. A determination for how full time staff will be accommodated has not yet been reached. 

According to the FAQ page, students will not be charged for room and board for the portion of the semester after March 16. Students not remaining on campus can expect a prorated credit to be applied to their accounts, according to the FAQ page. 

Students have been understanding of the move. However, some remain concerned over the impact of leaving the college to begin remote instruction. “I think moving to online classes is a real, valid response to what’s becoming a worldwide health emergency” said James van Kuilenuerg ’22, “at the same time, we cannot ignore the impact this will have on students who don’t have the privilege of sage, welcoming homes that will allow for studying and school work.”

“Our four year residential college experience has really taken a strange turn” added John Crafa ‘20.

“Absolutely heartbreaking” said Ellis Tucci ‘20, “I feel like we’ve been robbed of the ability to get closure on our college experience, and prevented from saying goodbye to our friends on our own terms.”

“They [Dickinson College] definitely could’ve waited a couple more weeks or pushed back graduation which would’ve been a better way to spend my 72 thousand metaphorical dollars instead of moving online, where I won’t and I repeat won’t, be learning a d*mn thing” added Dulce Lopez ‘20.

“This is an attitude, an orientation, now indispensable in our college, our nation and the world. We must all of us be prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to do our part” said Ensign while describing the college closure measures, “I have every confidence that we will look back at this difficult time with pride in what we have done.”