August 19, 2020
Dear International Organization Executive Officers,
Hopefully, this message finds you safe and sound as we all continue navigating these very uncertain times. As you can imagine, recent news stories from other campuses where the spread of COVID-19 has been tied to fraternities and sororities have caused an increase in the questions and concerns we in Fraternity & Sorority Life (FSL) are fielding. I wanted to be sure to reach out to you to share key aspects of how the University of Michigan is approaching the fall in-residence semester and invite your questions or concerns. Honestly, we desperately need your partnership to implement our strategies effectively and to protect our students and organizations.
Our team has been holding summer meetings with council and chapter leaders as well as information sessions for chapter advisors, house corporations, and house directors. I have placed below a summary of the information we have been sharing as well as a couple of recent updates. The next meeting opportunity for volunteers/advisors and house corporations will be on August 20th at 5:30 pm via Zoom. We are happy to meet with you or any members of your organization to discuss this information further if needed.
Important Overall Points
- The State of Michigan has set operational and capacity limits for many industries, see State of Michigan COVID-19 website for more information; locally, the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County area is in phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Plan.
- The City of Ann Arbor is actively collaborating with the Washtenaw County Health Department, local hospitals, the University of Michigan, and the Red Cross for the COVID-19 pandemic. See the City of Ann Arbor COVID-19 site for timely updates.
- The University of Michigan is offering mostly remote courses and de-densified spaces and modified campus operations. Significant adjustments have been implemented to limit capacities in classrooms and meeting/event venues. Students will find limited access to campus facilities and will experience high expectations for compliance and accountability with the public-health informed practices being implemented. Fall sports have all been postponed until spring. Ongoing communication to students and families is facilitated through the Maize and Blueprint website. Daily self-monitoring is expected of everyone entering campus facilities. Every U-M student who needs access to COVID-19 testing, quarantine, or isolation can receive help on campus.
- In support of contact tracing that will be implemented by Washtenaw County in partnership with the university, we are asking every chapter facility to share the rosters of their residents this week and also asking all FSL students who live outside of chapter facilities to report their local addresses. Please encourage your chapter members, volunteers/advisors, and house corporations to assist with this effort and to direct their questions to email@example.com.
- FSL is also assisting chapters and councils that are responding to a variety of issues that are unrelated to COVID-19 and being raised anonymously over social media sites, similar to issues many other campus FSLs are facing regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. We will continue to assist students to navigate the challenges by accessing the available resources from your organizations and through the expertise available on campus.
U-M Academic Calendar and Campus Life
- Classes begin on August 31, 2020.
- Most classes are offered in a remote format, however, there are some in-person classes.
- Fall break has been eliminated. Travel during the semester is discouraged for student organizations and on-campus residents.
- All in-person classes and in-person campus services will conclude by November 20, 2020, and students are free to leave the campus area. There will be no in-person commencement exercises or other typical end-of-term activities or programs.
- More information is available on this COVID-19 dedicated website: Maize and Blueprint. This site has been promoted to students and families throughout the spring and summer.
- All U-M students are required to complete a virtual course about COVID-19 safety. The course will provide education about the novel COVID-19 and symptoms, self-monitoring, screening, quarantine and isolation, effective practices for reducing exposure and spread of the virus, enhanced cleaning and hand hygiene practices, and where students can find assistance and medical care.
- Our council presidents all participated in the campus planning efforts all spring and summer and their insights and creativity contributed to shaping the initiatives we have in place, see the Wolverine Culture of Care. We are grateful for their commitment and thoughtfulness.
- The campus is also prepared to support students who experience negative effects of isolation and separation and financial emergencies. Please refer students and families to the Dean of Students Office.
- Face coverings will be required on campus, both indoors and outdoors.
- Enforcement of the campus and City expectations will be supported by the Michigan Ambassadors Program, a group comprised of employees and volunteers who will survey off-campus areas on a daily basis offering verbal reinforcement of the established guidelines and contacting organization leaders or property owners when possible to mitigate issues, all as the first line of intervention to help avoid calls to law enforcement.
- There are new guidelines for all U-M student organizations, FSL chapters are expected to comply.
Student Housing Concerns
- Residence halls will operate throughout the year. Student contracts/leases are flexible and allow for move-out when all in-person courses complete (e.g. November 20th for fall semester). Housing has developed a strategy to de-densify the facilities as needed.
- Students who will live on-campus in residence halls are expected to complete pre-move in testing either by mail or upon arrival to campus. Mitigation strategies will be administered throughout the semester.
- Off-campus students, including those in chapter facilities, will not be tested by the university. Chapters may implement screening and testing strategies along with guest policies in order to identify concerns early and refer students who need medical attention in a timely manner. Each organization is asked to inform their members of their chapter expectations and procedures.
- We strongly encourage chapter facilities to de-densify, practice social distancing in sleeping quarters and common spaces, and to be prepared to address incidents of residents and staff becoming infected.
Council/Chapter Recruitment and Intake
- Every chapter is asked to conduct marketing, recruitment, and intake of eligible students using virtual activities - not in-person. U-M students have access to video conferencing platforms, audio/visual equipment on loan, and technical assistance and tutorials. Also, FSL staff can assist with creating online courses and webinars for groups to serve the needs of each council.
- Please share your current guidelines for chapters regarding membership practices for the year. Forward any public information to firstname.lastname@example.org for our reference.
Student Gatherings and Social Events
- The IFC and the Panhellenic Association currently prohibit the registration of social events and are encouraging every chapter to comply with the state and campus precautions and expectations.
- Chapters that violate this prohibition and those that hold gatherings that exceed limits established by the state or local public health official will be subject to accountability measures through the university. Student organizations could be at risk of losing recognition. Individual students who violate the campus and local guidelines may also be subject to individual accountability measures through the university.
- IFC and the Panhellenic Association will co-host an annual training session, called the Social Responsibility Meeting, for chapter leaders on August 26th. The meeting is required and will provide opportunities for chapter representatives to hear from leaders of each council, campus administrators, and local officials about the current practices in place to ensure student and community safety.
I hope this information is helpful to you and I recognize that it is a lot to take in so please reply with any questions and your updates. We are doing all we can to help the students be successful and we are counting on your strong support to reiterate the expectations and practices that can keep them safe. Thank you for taking the time to read this communication.
Take good care,
Associate Dean of Students
Interim Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life