Graduation, online classes discussed during virtual town hall

virtual town hall

Monica Roberts hosted the Virtual Town Hall on Monday where Doug Hallenbeck and Jeanette Mendez discussed OSU's steps going forward with online classes.

Oklahoma State University emphasized in Monday’s Virtual Town Hall that it is doing its best to maintain normalcy as it transitions to online classes.

Doug Hallenbeck, the vice president of Student Affairs, and Jeanette Mendez, the vice provost of Academic Affairs, joined OSU Communications’ Monica Roberts in giving an update on OSU’s new policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and answering questions from parents and students about the transition to online learning.

Roberts said more than 1,000 questions were submitted for the Town Hall that were condensed into eight main questions. These ranged from questions about moving out of the dorms to how labs will be conducted.

One of the most asked questions, Mendez said, was whether or not graduation will be canceled. She assured that it has not been canceled, just postponed.

“We have a committee that’s convening,” Mendez said. “They have sought student input. We have heard the students’ voices, and we know you do not want to have this canceled.”

Mendez also said students will be given a “pass or no pass” option for their grades going forward, and, even though graduation has been postponed, degrees will still be conferred as soon as final grades are posted in May.

The university is also trying to provide as many tools for student success as it can, Mendez said. This includes moving the LASSO Center, the Mathematics Learning Success Center and the Writing Center online. Mendez asked that any students who don’t have internet or VPN access please reach out to let the university know so they can help those students get the resources they need.

Additionally, summer and fall advising will be conducted online. Mendez said to sign up for an advising appointment the way students normally do.

Mendez also touched on how lab classes will be conducted going forward. While it’s up to each lab instructor to decide the best way to have classes, each lab has been restructured to allow students to complete the labs online.

“You will not be required to purchase any lab kits, come to the lab to complete these assignments or go to any other lab to complete these assignments,” Mendez said.

Thursday the university announced that students have been asked to leave the residence halls, and move out began Monday. Hallenbeck said the university is doing its best to follow social distancing guidelines as students move out, which is why residents were given a 12 day period to leave.

Students who moved out before spring break will be allowed to mail their room keys back to Residential Life instead of coming back to campus, and Hallenbeck said it may be possible for students planning to return to their same dorm room in the fall to leave their belongings there.

Students who can’t leave the dorms by April 3 have been asked to fill out an extension request, and those who come back to campus have to pass a screening before they will be allowed back. The screening consists of a phone interview with University Health Services, and there may be follow ups depending on responses.

Hallenbeck also said students will be given partial refunds for certain student fees, and told people to look for an email with more information on that.

Bonnie Griffin, one of the many parents who submitted a question for the Town Hall, said she was pleased with how the meeting went overall, but the broadcast also raised some new questions.

“It was very informative,” Griffin said. “I liked the format of it, how you could see the people talking but then they had the questions up on the board. I wish they would have gone more in depth about the grading option, the ‘pass or no pass.’ I think it’s great that they’re going to partial refund for the fees and that kind of stuff, so overall, I thought it was pretty informative.”

Mendez asked people to stay patient and be flexible going forward, and she said the university is working to answer people’s questions in a timely manner.

“I just want to let the students and the parents know that this is a challenging time for all of us,” Mendez said. “We’re doing everything we can to make this as seamless as possible, but, of course, we need a little bit of patience... We’re working through this.”