Answering students' questions

Answering students' questions

Illustration by Natalia Jimenez
By Mike Piacentino

Illustration by Natalia Jimenez

Answering students' questions

By Mike Piacentino
Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, spent the week talking with students and answering their questions about the fall semester

As the University of Miami continues to refine its plan for re-populating the Coral Gables campus, the Division of Student Affairs has been connecting with students to answer their questions, get their feedback, and hear what remaining concerns they may have.

Within the past week, Patricia A. Whitely, vice president for student affairs, has conducted Zoom meetings with a variety of student groups including student organization leaders, orientation student staff, and resident assistants. Whitely is reaching out to these students because she views them as role models among their peers.

“All of you become more crucial than you’ve ever been before because we have to have everyone cooperate,” Whitely told orientation leaders in a Zoom meeting on Tuesday night.

In addition to these online forums, Whitely joined University of Miami senior and president of Student Government Abigail Adeleke Wednesday night for a question and answer session via Instagram Live. About 100 incoming and current students tuned in to hear the two leaders discuss more than a dozen questions that were both pre-submitted and asked live via the chat.

Whitely opened by providing students with a general sense of what to expect when they return to campus in August.

 “We will be following the president’s four pillars,” she said.  “Expect to be physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and using hand sanitizers. We are going to try to do a number of programs but campus will not look the same.”

Students’ questions ranged from what campus spaces such as classrooms and the Richter Library will look like to how campus housing and dining will change to allow for physical distancing. Campus events like Homecoming and the ever-popular Pancakes with Pat were also a common theme. While Whitely was able to directly answer many of the questions, she also cautioned that things will continue to change. She reminded students to continue to check their University e-mail and coronavirus.miami.edu for the latest updates.

“Right now, gatherings are limited to no more than 50 people but that could change over the next six weeks,” Whitely said when asked about Greek Life social events. “Our policies will rely heavily on guidance from Florida’s Department of Health and current cases in Miami-Dade County.”

Adeleke says that she appreciates that Whitely and other University administrators have included students' perspectives in their planning and decisions.

“Students right now are experiencing a lot of uncertainty related to the return to the fall," she says. "But when student input is incorporated into decision-making through events like these, the University as a whole is better because diversity in thought is what makes a strong institution thrive.”

Students—and their families – who were unable to attend the live Q &A session are encouraged to register for the Town Hall for Student and Families taking place on Tuesday, June 30 at 5:30 p.m. More information, including the link to register, is available on the University’s coronavirus response website.