In the Loop
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Gabi Levy / Columbia Daily Spectator

Barnard and Columbia announced a full move to online learning for all undergraduate classes and most graduate classes Friday afternoon.

Columbia’s decision follows a surge in COVID-19 cases in over 18 states and multiple territories. Though New York City entered Phase 4 of its COVID-19 reopening plan on July 20, venues integral to campus life such as indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, and museums remain closed.

The decision to move all courses online is in line with those made at Harvard University, Princeton University, Brown University (which is online until October 5 and will reassess its policies thereafter), and the University of Pennsylvania (which is allowing only a few required in-person courses). However, at the time of publishing, Cornell University, Yale University, and Dartmouth College all have plans to maintain some in-person undergraduate instruction. New York City colleges, including New York University, the City University of New York, and Fordham University, also have plans to hold some in-person instruction this fall.

The decision comes following concerns from the Morningside Heights Community Coalition about Columbia students threatening the safety of the West Harlem and Morningside Heights communities. Students coming to campus are required to follow the Columbia Community Compact, which involves partaking in contact tracing, testing, and quarantine protocols when needed.

While Columbia undergraduates’ learning will be entirely remote, about 40 percent of all graduate school classes will still be offered in hybrid and in-person modalities. Both Barnard and Columbia have stated evaluations for a hybrid spring semester are still ongoing.

Columbia’s decision has implications not only for student learning, but also for residential housing, dining, extracurriculars, and on-campus life in general. Here’s what the changes mean for campus life.

Residential housing

On-campus housing at Barnard will not be available to students, including students in leadership positions like orientation leaders, resident assistants, and Student Government Association executives. Barnard students with extenuating circumstances who were initially offered on-campus housing may be eligible for assistance moving to an alternate location or financial support for housing. Housing stipends that were provided to Barnard students to cover the cost of off-campus housing in need-based situations will no longer be extended for those who have not already applied.

Columbia will be drastically reducing the number of Columbia College and School of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduates in on-campus housing, but housing plans for students in the School of General Studies remain unchanged. Students who were approved to live on campus for only the fall semester will have their housing contracts automatically canceled. Students who were approved to live on campus for the full year due to personal circumstances must confirm that they wish to stay in Columbia Housing for the academic year by August 17 at 9 a.m. They will receive their new housing assignments by August 24 at noon.

Barnard students who had their belongings in storage since the spring semester are encouraged to retrieve them. Those within driving distance of the college should expect to pick up their belongings; arrangements must be made directly with their storage vendors. For those not within driving distance, updates are to come.

Financial changes

Barnard has only announced that it will decrease the comprehensive fee for the fall semester by 10 percent, which comes out to a $94.35 decrease from the original $943.50 fee. Financial aid awards will be modified to accommodate this change. Columbia College, SEAS, and General Studies announced that they will absorb the previously-announced 2 percent increase in tuition this year. Undergraduate tuition at both Columbia and Barnard for the 2020-21 academic year will be the same as that of the 2019-20 academic year.

Students receiving need-based Barnard grant aid will receive a one-time summer work exception grant for 2020-2021. Usually, they would be required to contribute to college expenses from their student income and college assets.

Columbia College and SEAS will also waive all employment expectations for students this year. Barnard students will have remote work opportunities available, as well as access to internships and internship funding.

Access to resources

The Barnard campus will remain closed until further notice, and the Columbia campus will provide restricted access to students from all colleges in accordance with health and safety guidelines. Academic, health, and student resources—including the Columbia Writing Center and Barnard Writing Fellows, Beyond Barnard and Columbia Center for Career Education, health consultations, and mental health counseling services—will be offered online, as they have throughout the spring and summer semesters. Barnard Primary Health Care Services and Columbia Health will also be open for limited in-person appointments. While all physical libraries will remain closed until further notice, book scanning and pick-up services are available on request. The Dodge Fitness Center is also closed until further notice.

Barnard students seeking additional support to finance their educational requirements can apply for supplies like travel funds, improved WiFi access, gift cards for groceries, and more through the supplemental academic support application. Columbia College and SEAS students on financial aid will receive an off-campus living stipend of $4,000 per semester to help with living and technological expenses related to remote learning.

Leaves of absence

Returning Columbia students who are considering taking voluntary or medical leave must consult their advisor in the Berick Center for Student Advising; Barnard students should contact Senior Class Dean Rebecca Grabiner for more information.

The deadline to defer enrollment has passed, so incoming first-year students who wish to take a voluntary leave of absence will need to cancel their enrollment and reapply for admission to next year’s class by the 2020-2021 application deadlines.

This is a breaking story; check back for updates.

Spectrum Deputy Editor Jazilah Salam can be contacted at jazilah.salam@columbiaspectator.com. Staff writer Nandini Talwar can be contacted at nandini.talwar@columbiaspectator.com. Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

Fall 2020 Coronavirus Online Remote Housing
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