RYAN LOMBARDI: Good afternoon, everybody. It's just a few minutes after 3 o'clock in Ithaca, New York. Welcome to today's forum for new students and their families.
My name is Ryan Lombardi. For those of you that I haven't had the chance to meet yet, I am the vice president for student and campus life. Very happy to be with you again today on this Friday. It is another beautiful day in Ithaca. If you're not here yet, we look forward to having you soon.
You may notice that I have a slightly different backdrop today. I am in my office. I'm on campus. Not the first time I've been in the number of months, but obviously that's becoming a more regular occurrence now.
Also, I did get my COVID test this morning at the drive-up site that many of our students will get to experience here in the coming days. That went well. So I had a chance to do that too. I even posted some photos, not of the actual test, but of me getting ready for the test, on my Instagram account.
This is, again, directed, today, specifically at new students. And I want to welcome you. I want to thank you for being here. And I just want to start by acknowledging-- I know this is a challenging way to begin your experience. But this forum, we're hoping, today, will help to ease some of your anxieties and to give you a little bit more of a sense and some advice about life on campus from some great colleagues that have joined me today.
I just finished recording a message to you earlier today to that you'll see as part of new-student convocation. We know this is not how we expected to begin this semester when you started to think about college more than a year ago or so now. But we're going to make the best of it that we can.
Students, you should have gotten, by now, a lot of information from new-student programs. I hope you've had the chance to start making your way through that. And I hope that that has been helpful. Please be sure to keep paying attention to the information they send you. I know it's a lot of email, between emails from me and other departments. But it's really critical that you stay up with that information.
A lot of the questions that we're going to try to address today are really unique to new students and their families. So we want to make sure that we provide that. You know, the first-year experience, the first year of college, can be a really critical component to your experience to make sure that you get started off on the right foot. And that we're doing this under different circumstances, we're convinced that we will be able to help you do that.
We think the remaining years of your college experience at Cornell will be a bit different. But your first year here, although starting in a unique way, we'll make sure we do all we can to help you with that adjustment. There'll be a lot of virtual programming. A lot of orientation programs will take place, which you'll hear a bit more about today. And I do urge you, whether you're going to be on campus or whether you're going to stay remote, to participate in as much of that as possible. That will really help you get off on the right foot, and get things started well here at Cornell.
Just a couple of other announcements before I introduce our panelists and then I answer a few questions. If you haven't already, please do be sure to go into the reentry checklist. Most undergraduates have done that, but not all, so make sure you've done that, if you haven't already. Remember that you'll need to finish all steps, up to and including the Behavioral Compact, before you will be able to enroll when that information is shared.
We have a great lineup for you today, including a couple of our fabulous current students who are going to share some of their advice with you. So I'm looking forward to introducing them.
You know I've said this every time we've been on a forum together, but everything does continue to change on a very regular basis. I acknowledge how difficult that is for all of you in terms of making your plans. It's certainly difficult for us too. And obviously everything we continue to do is subject to change. You see that a number of our peer institutions and other schools continue to make decisions and change the decisions that they've made. So I acknowledge that, again, we're still moving forward. We are heading into this semester with a lot of enthusiasm, though with an extraordinary amount of preparation and work in front of us.
We'll continue, as we have, to be as communicative as possible, and also to post updates on the website, which I've reminded you of that frequently, COVID.Cornell.edu is where you'll find the most up-to-date information. Finally, I want to let you know that, as always, this session will be recorded. And we'll post it on that website that I just mentioned within a few days.
Now, we are going to do something a little different before I introduce our guests today, which is to ask you to take a very quick poll. We want to get a sense of who's with us in the viewing audience today. So my colleague behind the scenes is going to put up a couple of questions for you here and show you the results so that we can get a little bit of a sense of who's out there. So please participate in our poll right now.
All right, let's see what we've got here. All right, so mostly new, first-year students and parents of new, first-year students, a good number of transfer students as well, and a few parents of transfer students. So, great, glad to have you with us today.
We're going to answer one other quick question here, a second poll question. OK, let's see what we have here. A vast majority of people out there today coming to campus, but a number not coming, and some that are still on the fence trying to make up their minds about that, which is certainly understandable.
Great. Well, thank you for participating in that. A little different way to kick us off, but also helpful for my colleagues and our students today to know who they are speaking with. So with that in mind, I want to just briefly introduce each one of my colleagues and allow them to take over the screen and say hello.
I'm going to introduce my colleagues in the order in which they'll be speaking today. First, Amy Godert, who is our executive director of academic student success programs, and also the director of the Learning Strategies Center. Amy.
AMY GODERT: Hi, everyone. It's really nice to meet you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Amy, for being with us today. Next, a familiar face that you've seen on our forums before. That is Jenny Loeffelman, who is an assistant vice president in student and campus life.
JENNY LOEFFELMAN: Good afternoon, everyone. Thanks for having me, Ryan. I'm going to talk to you a little bit today about orientation and campus involvement.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Jenny. All right, next up I'm going to introduce one of our students, Bryan Weintraub, who is a senior, also a member of the Orientation Steering Committee, and a member of the Student Assembly. Bryan.
BRYAN WEINTRAUB: Hi, everyone. Really excited to be with you here today. And looking forward to telling you a little bit more about orientation and some of the great things you can expect on your first few weeks in the semester.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great backdrop, Ryan. Looking out over Cayuga's waters. Next I'm going to introduce the other student that's with us today, Moriah Adeghe. Moriah is also a senior, also a member of the Orientation Steering Committee and the Student Assembly, but also one of our new peer health ambassadors for this fall. Moriah.
MORIAH ADEGHE: Hi, everyone. I'm so glad to meet you all. I'm excited to be talking to you today about orientation.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Moriah. All right, next I would like to introduce to you Adi Grabiner-Keinan of Kenyon who is the executive director for undergraduate diversity education and also the director of the Intergroup Dialogue Project. Adi
ADI GRABINER-KEINAN: Hello, everyone. Welcome to Cornell. So excited to be here with you today and to talk a little bit about academic diversity here at Cornell.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Adi. We appreciate you being here. And last I want to introduce my colleague Brandee. Nicholson, who is our assistant director for residential life. Brandee.
BRANDEE NICHOLSON: Hi, everybody. So excited to see all of you and to have all of you who are coming to campus be here very soon.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thanks, Brandee. All right, I will start off and hit a couple of the questions that came in that would be best for me to address before I turn it over to our colleagues.
So not surprisingly, the most frequently asked and most popular question has been about move-in, and quarantine plans, and all of that. And let me just say, for those of you that I've had the chance to talk to, again, my apologies for the delay. I appreciate your patience and flexibility. We've continued to have twists and turns in this process. One of the reasons is because we are also not only coordinating the move-in but also the testing time slots. And it is just a large number of those to host.
So I know that doesn't make life easier when you're trying to plan. The good news is, those emails started going out today, as planned. And our most recent update-- not as initially planned, as you know-- but in our most recent update, I know some people have already started receiving them. They're spooling. There's a number of different versions, depending on which move-in slot you've been assigned, and also some of the other details. But they should all be out or on their way here as we're going through this panel today.
Again, I just want to thank you. It's not how we would have hoped to be able to get this information to you. I fully acknowledge that. The team has done the very best work. they can. We were ready earlier in the week, and had to hit pause for a few changes that came in around our testing strategy. So just wanted to say that. So that was, again, the most popular question. So a lot of information will be in that in that email that you receive. And Housing will be standing by to try to help make any adjustments or answer any questions as needed.
Next, there are a number of questions still about course enrollment. And I know the course roster continues to grow and get updated information put on there. I would encourage you-- and we can put this link in the chat for you-- to connect with your academic advisor. If you're not sure who that is for your college or how to contact them, we'll get that information up there for you. And you can reach out to them to get a little information about enrollment, answer any specific questions. Amy, today, will be talking a little bit about some of our learning strategies and academic success. But specific questions about enrollment within your college are best directed to your academic advising office.
A few other questions that came in about the student experience-- you know, it says, would it be beneficial or allowed to have freshmen staying at home for fall till things are sorted out? Look, I've talked about this in previous discussions. This is a personal choice of course. Everyone understands that a good number of our students will not be coming back to campus this fall, in the thousands. So if that is you and you're feeling like you don't feel comfortable coming back, you will not be alone.
Having said that, a lot of students also are making plans to be back on campus, as we saw with the poll. And we're delighted for that too. We recognize that this pandemic has impacted people differentially. And that's a shame, but it's just a fact of where we're at. And so we want to try to support you no matter what.
I do not feel like you will be at a disadvantage. We're trying to offer all the support and resources in a virtual environment that we would in an in-person environment.
And that kind of leads to the next question that I was asked to, take about whether there will be a disadvantage for students who stay home. Look, again, we're trying to provide as much as possible. And this was specifically, I think, related to classroom environment. Our faculty have been working so hard-- that's part of why the class rosters took a little bit of extra time-- they've been working so hard to try to make that academic experience as seamless as possible regardless of the modality. Obviously, some classes, that's easier to do than others.
Another question about living on campus and having courses online-- that will be the case for some of you, that even though you're here physically, that you'll be taking courses sitting in your residence hall room, doing online. We're hopeful that your presence, for those of you who do choose to come, you'll still have benefits with being around other students, being able to connect in small groups, and beginning to get familiar with the Cornell campus during this fall.
We're going to try to provide a lot of extra support to our first-year students. You'll hear from Moriah and Bryan today about that, as well as my other colleagues. Jenny is going to talk extensively about some really outstanding programming that we will have in place for this fall.
There was a question about student employment. Yes, we will have student employment on campus this year. Some of the offices that may have hired students in the past might be operating in a more virtual environment. So they might be lower. But there will be other offices, including our Cornell dining, including a number of our departments and units, that will be hiring even more students than they typically may have done in the past.
We recognize this is important for lots of our students. And we are working to make sure that there's lots of good study spaces on campus available. We of course are reconfiguring all the furniture on campus so things are adequately spaced out and we can promote physical distancing. But things like space in the library or other open spaces that can be configured for study so you don't have to be just in your residence hall room or in your apartment, that's really important to us.
And we are going to dig into that question much more deeply in our next forum, which is scheduled for next week, where we will really get into life on campus, and all the different facilities, and resources, and things along those lines. So thank you for that question.
All right, with that, we're going to start walking through our panelists. They have a lot of good information to share. My colleague, Amy Godert, is going to start us off. Again, Amy is the director of the Learning Strategy Center and also the executive director for our Academic Student Success programs. So with that, Amy, I will turn it over to you.
AMY GODERT: Thank you. So thanks, Ryan. And congratulations to everybody. And welcome to the Cornell community. As VP Lombardi said, I work with our Learning Strategy Center here at Cornell. And in the LSC, the Learning Strategy Center, we have instructors, staff, and student tutors who work to provide opportunities and resources, things like tutoring and supplemental courses in a lot of our large, introductory-level courses here at Cornell, as well as study skills materials that we make available to literally thousands of Cornell undergrads like you. And many people take advantage of these every year in order to refine and develop new approaches to mastering their courses and the academic rigors of Cornell.
So this is really an exciting transition for everybody, and one that it's going to have some ups and downs, and won't always be easy. And I know that you have a lot of questions. And so on the time that I have with you, I'm going to focus in on some of the questions related to ways to be successful in your Cornell courses. So as you know, your classes are going to be in a variety of formats this fall. Some of them might be online, some of them might be in person, and some of them might be hybrid, split between sometimes in person and sometimes online. And that, of course, brings a lot of things to keep track of. And you're going to want to think about, before the first day of class, looking at your schedule, take a look at Canvas, look and see if you can find a course syllabus, and make sure you know where you're going, whether it be virtually or physically, and know when you need to be there.
So make sure you write stuff down, put it in a calendar, so you aren't scrambling for a Zoom link at the last minute. And of course Ryan mentioned that the fall course roster. That is going to be updated. So make sure you're checking back. I took a look earlier today. And it said there was going to be an update at some point today. And that's a great place to find courses to take, and also to check out the modalities of those courses.
I've talked with some students already, earlier this summer, about some questions that they had, and how to be successful online, and just in general at Cornell. I'm going to share a few thoughts on that.
But before I do that, I want to take a minute to encourage you to explore the LSC web page. That's LSC.Cornell.edu. We are constantly adding new material based on things that students are asking us about. We have a new section on online learning and starting the semester strong. So go ahead and take a look at what we have there. And we're developing some new materials on exam prep for online and in-person exams that we're going to have here on campus. You can find a lot more information about what I'm going to share on our web page.
Also-- and I know you're going to hear more about orientation-- the LSC is developing some really exciting, I think, orientation programming that's going to include Canvas modules on gearing up for academic success, on time management, and note-taking. And speaking of the importance of peers, our amazing LSC study skills tutors are going to be hosting time management workshops during orientation too. It's a great way to get some tips from students who have gone through this transition recently, and also a great way to meet someone new who's been at Cornell for a little bit.
And so I want to get to some of the questions that were posed about just success at Cornell in general and about success for online courses. The first thing I just want to mention is really be focused, especially with online courses. So when you're thinking about your online courses, make sure you have a space where you can minimize distractions. So if you're at home, you're going to have to talk with the people that you're living with on how do you minimize those distractions that are there for you.
You're going to want to think about bringing your whole self to class with the idea of learning, and not entertainment, like we so often think about with videos online, with Netflix and YouTube. So you have to shift your mindset a little bit, and really step up and engage in your classes, both in-person and online. So think about doing things that make you an active participant. Take notes. Ask yourself questions about the material. Participate in the activities and in the discussions that are there. And have your video on. It helps create a connection with others in the class.
You're also going to want to-- and this is one of the most important things that students share with us-- you're going to want to develop a plan to manage your time. And this can be a semester calendar, mapping out things that are happening in the semester, a weekly calendar, and also maybe a daily calendar. So students have shared that even though it's really hard to do this, it's really important. So that way you can create dedicated work time in your calendar so that way you can maintain time for other important activities, things like socializing, because you need to get to connect with other students, eating, and sleeping.
And I want to emphasize the importance of sleep here. Do not underestimate how important that is for long-term learning. There's actually a lot of literature on that. Sleeping is important. Cramming is not all that helpful. So think about developing your plan and finding new strategies that are going to help you learn. And we have a lot of those on our LSC web page.
The last thing I want to close with is just a thought about asking for help. So one of the things our students will share is that successful students ask for help when they need it. Cornell will push you, and it will be hard sometimes, but that's really how we get better and learn things. Remember that you do have the tools and the resources that you need to be successful here. You might need to tweak them. Maybe you want to try something new. But you have what you need and you have a community of support here for you. Your peers, your instructors, your advisors, residential staff, and many others, everyone is here to help. So make sure you reach out when you need it. Thanks so much, and back to you, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thanks so much, Amy. And awesome advice. Two points I'll emphasize that Amy mentioned-- ask for help. Learn how to ask and take advantage of our resources. And the next one, one of my favorites, is be sure to sleep. We know sometimes Cornell students are competitive, and like to carry it as a badge of honor about how little sleep they can have. But that is really not productive and healthy. So I encourage those two points, among the many others that Amy shared. Thank you, Amy.
All right, next I am going to turn it over to my colleague Jenny Loeffelman, who is going to tell you a little bit more about orientation and also some of the other programming opportunities we're going to have for you this fall. Jenny.
JENNY LOEFFELMAN: Thank you, Ryan. Good afternoon, everyone. I'm excited to talk to you a little bit today about orientation and campus involvement here at Cornell. Cornell is proud to offer a virtual orientation this year for new students and families, with the same breadth and depth of past in-person events. We've worked diligently over the summer with our staff and campus partners to make sure students and families get all the important resources for your first year here. Orientation is a launch pad for students to meet other new students, to understand the academic and community expectations, to explore Cornell opportunities, and most importantly, to develop a sense of belonging. Everything we do and everything we create for you so that you can find your place here at Cornell and you find where you can belong.
Orientation has a few different major aspects of the program this year. First, a series of campus programs and events. Second, one-on-one and group mentoring experiences. That'll be with your student orientation leader. And then, third, a series of required programs offered by both Student and Campus Life and the colleges. These programs will make sure that all students are prepared before you actually start classes.
The schedule of events went live last week. You should have each received an email from our new-student programs office. And all of the links will go live next Monday. So just after this weekend, you'll get another email from us with all of the live links to all the different events and programs.
At that time, you'll want to go into this schedule and sign up for your events using the Shopping Cart feature. We know the schedule is overwhelming. There's about 300 options for you during the orientation program. But you can sort by your college, you can sort by your interest. You can sort by what's required and what's optional. And that shopping cart is going to help you build your schedule for orientation.
The links will also be live here in the chat box. Thank you.
Next I want to talk a little bit about our family orientation schedule. At the same time students are going through orientation, we are going to also be providing a ton of programming for families. The family orientation schedule also has already been sent to you. And those live links will also be available next Monday. You'll do the same thing as the students, and go in and select the programs you'd like to attend through the Shopping Cart feature.
Students and families will be welcomed by the president during the new student convocation video. This has historically been an in-person event, but we're very excited this year to be offering that virtually. The president will welcome all of you here. And in that video series, we'll launch you into what we also have, which is new this year, a six-part family orientation video information series. Topics such as Cornell history, the residential experience, health and safety, developing community, being a Cornell parent, and supporting your Cornell student are all going to be great programs that I encourage each of you to attend.
We know many of you have questions about how students are going to be doing the semester virtually and/or on campus and how you will have enough opportunities to engage with peers if everything's virtual. Orientation really provides a starting point for our community-building through orientation groups, where all small college-based groups will be facilitated by a trained volunteer orientation leader. Whether you are here on campus in Ithaca or at home, you will participate in an orientation group experience. It'll be great for you to take advantage of this opportunity to engage with your peers.
Also, students living in the residence halls will begin connecting with their residential community through programming, also virtually. Last but certainly not least, involvement in student organizations and other interests will also provide students an opportunity to meet other students with similar interests.
Starting this Sunday night, I'm excited to announce that we've got a special program that will roll out for the next couple weeks before orientation even begins. We're calling it, this year, Q Week. It's quarantine week programming, but it's virtual programming that will be open to all students, whether you're quarantining in Ithaca early or whether you have yet to arrive.
Following Q Week will be all of the orientation programs, followed by programming that we're calling The First 30 Days. We're excited to be rolling out the first 30 days of programming this year to be full of virtual activities, from escape rooms, to game nights, to cooking classes, to virtual social events. We'll have between eight to 10 events a week. So there will always be something for you to do. In addition to all of that, we'll be launching our rec activities, residential life programming, and all that will begin after school begins on the 2nd of September.
We know many of you are transfer students. And thank you for joining us today, transfer students. We have a very specialized transfer student orientation for you. We recognize that transfer students are new to Cornell, but not new to college. And so we integrate that philosophy into our orientation programming. The orientation groups for transfer students include other transfer students, not first-year students, which provides transfer students a small-group setting to meet other transfer students that are going through the same experience. There is an additional virtual orientation programming schedule, such as additional escape rooms, cooking nights, and other events just for transfer students to be able to socialize with one another.
After orientation ends, all these students are encouraged to pursue your interests, whether it's clubs and organizations, community service opportunities, leadership opportunities, and everything else that Cornell has to offer. These pursuits will provide you opportunities for you to get involved and meet other upper-level students with similar interests. All of this will become available to you and will be emailed out to you and communicated to you through social media over these next few weeks before you transition here on campus or begin classes online.
So we're going to do a few things to make sure that all students, whether you're here or online, feel like you are a part of the community. Clubs and organizations are going to be a vibrant part of the campus experience this year. Virtual programming, as I mentioned a little bit earlier, through our Campus Activities office, will be available. We encourage you to follow Campus Activities through our Instagram.
I'm putting that link in there too. The Campus Activities Instagram will have all the information about Q Week, The First 30 Days, Clubfest, which is your way to know all of our 1000 student organizations on campus. This year we'll be having a virtual Clubfest. And there'll be four different opportunities for you to participate in that. So there'll be more information coming your way about Clubfest. Clubfest is the great, great way to be able to navigate all of our organizations and find your place here at Cornell.
Last but certainly not least, I'd like to tell you briefly about some of our exciting physical education and rec activities. We'll be offering over 200 PE classes, and experiences for both the fall in-person and virtual events and activities. In-person, we've got things such as outdoor boot camps, cardio kick, walking tours, sports, sailing, racquetball, swimming, and so much more. So there will be on-campus in-person rec activities available for those who are here on campus. Virtually, we'll be doing course doing different classes such as yoga, meditation, stress management, and so much more.
So that is a very quick, high-level overview of orientation the programming offered in orientation, family orientation-- please don't forget to join us during family orientation-- and then overall campus involvement opportunities. Much more information coming your way. But I'm going to kick it back to Ryan to introduce you to our students.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you, Jenny. I think everyone needs to take a quick deep breath after hearing all of those great opportunities that your team has put together this fall. Thank you very much for your work. And I'd like to shout out for the Campus Activities Instagram. It is probably more exciting than my Instagram. I'll leave you all to decide that.
All right, so I'm going to ask our students to share a little bit with you next. And this won't be the only time you hear from them today. But both Bryan and Moriah are each going to take a turn here, Bryan first, I think, with a few key messages about orientation and things coming just around the corner, and then Moriah with some other advice for you in the coming weeks. So Bryan, I think I'm kicking this over to you.
BRYAN WEINTRAUB: Awesome. Thanks, Ryan. Jenny did a really great job of giving you guys, I think, a great overview of what orientation is going to look like at a high level. Before I jump in a little bit more and get you some more specifics, I'd love to introduce myself a little bit. I am a senior at Cornell. I study hotel administration, with minors in real estate and public policy. This is actually going to be my fifth orientation. This year, I'm serving on the Orientation Steering Committee, which is a group of 15 students that works together throughout the year to plan a really amazing orientation for you, our new students.
It's been a bit of a different experience this year. But I think we are actually planning the most robust orientation that we've ever had. Of all the orientations I've been in, I think this one has been created with the most heart, with the most soul. And I really want to emphasize how excited we are at the Orientation Steering Committee. We are so looking forward to seeing your faces, to having a chance to meet you, whether that's if you're on campus or coming to us virtually.
There's a lot of excitement in our planning meetings. We've been meeting all of this week. We're going to continue to meet into next week as we begin to ramp up planning and get ready for everyone to arrive. But I think it's really electric, just seeing how excited the team is. And we've heard from our orientation leaders and our orientation supervisors, who are going to be working with you directly, that they are also really, really thrilled to get to meet you. I think there's going to be a really special experience with orientation this year.
I want to go a little bit into some of the really cool events that we're going to be holding during orientation. So Jenny mentioned the fact that we're going to be having about eight to 10 events a day. You could check out the full listing of everything that's going to be happening online. But one of the really cool things that we're going to be doing this year is something that we like to call speed friending. And essentially what that is is you'll be able to jump on a Zoom call. And you can basically go into these breakout rooms with four or five other students. And you'll have a chance to just to meet each other, just to meet, to talk, to learn about each other's backgrounds and experiences. And the hope is that you'll be able to make some friends through this experience.
We have a lot of students and families that have been asking some questions about, will I be able to make friends in this virtual environment? If some of my classes are online, if orientation is virtual, how can I make friends? And that's really at the core of orientation this year, is making sure that we're providing programs for students that allow them to really get that face-to-face interaction, even if you're not necessarily standing right next to each other. And I hope that that's what you'll find that these programs do. And I hope that you'll be able to join us for some of those.
Something else I want to give a shout-out to is we're going to have, running pretty much every day, probably 10 AM to 10 PM Eastern time, we're going to be running virtual drop-in hours. And this is an opportunity, almost like an orientation headquarters-- you can think about it that way-- that students can come in and speak with our orientation leaders. They can meet other students. Just a great place to ask any questions, to meet new people, to learn more about what other great programs are happening during orientation. So keep an eye out for that link and more information about that.
I think one of the other things to keep in mind is, if you are going to be joining us on campus-- which it seems like we have a large number of first-year students that will be-- keep in mind that even though orientation is happening virtually, you can still really enjoy Ithaca. Ithaca is a wonderful, wonderful place, to spend time, especially in the summer. Mid-August to mid-September is my favorite month of the year in Ithaca. It is just so beautiful. The weather is perfect.
The natural beauty-- and you can sort of see a little bit in my background, with Cayuga Lake-- we have an amazing, amazing natural environment surrounding our campus. Some really wonderful state parks where you can go on hikes. You can go visit waterfalls. You can go downtown to the commons and explore there. Our campus is enormous.
What you're seeing behind me is just a small part of campus. Just taking walks around campus, there are so many things that you can still do with a friend or two as long as you're wearing masks and you're keeping your physical distancing. So we do want to remind students that even though orientation programming will be happening virtually and will mostly take place on Zoom, we still encourage students to explore Ithaca, to go outside, to meet new people, just being sure to do it in a safe manner.
And I also want to take this chance to mention something about-- we've had a question about how can families support their new students coming in to Cornell. And I think that's a really interesting question, especially in this time, when some parents are going to be a little bit concerned with-- this is a big change. And I think one of the most important things for students and for families is to know that there is a tremendous amount of support on campus. There's student support from residential advisors. There's support from your orientation leader. There's support from the Orientation Steering Committee, obviously from our wonderful Student and Campus Life staff, new-student programs. There really are hundreds and hundreds of people, if not thousands of people, on campus that are here to make your experience as great as possible.
And I think Moriah is going to going to go a little bit more into that next. But I'll throw it off to her, and she can continue letting you guys know about that.
MORIAH ADEGHE: Hi, everyone. I am Moriah. I am a senior in the College of Human Ecology. I'm studying policy analysis and management with a minor in fashion. I am going to talk a little bit more about orientation. I know a lot of people are wondering whether there's going to be any part of orientation in person.
Right now, orientation will be completely virtual, although there is a possibility that other programs and events could be in person after orientation week. And we understand that some students are going to be in isolation or quarantining or studying away this semester. And so, as an inclusive organization, we want to be mindful of that. And due to some time constraints as well, we will be doing orientation virtually.
In addition to that, orientation leaders are committed to first-year students and are committed to ensuring that first-year students have a good first year and a good first semester. And so many of them will have strong connections and stay connected to their first-year students throughout the year. And again, we'll be having some in-person events happening throughout the semester.
And so kind of going off of what Bryan said, because of those worries, it's important to get connected to your first-year residence community, be interacting with people outside of scheduled orientation events, and kind of get that personal support system. I think that this is a time when a lot of people are nervous, are worried. There's a lot of fears going on going around about whether they'll make friends, and kind of just like staying safe and healthy. And so I think that now was a really important time to get that personal support system, and have people you can lean into during this stressful time.
My advice would be to really bring into your residential community. I know, my freshman year, I became really good friends with all of the people in my dorm. And they became my personal support system. I went to them for pretty much everything. And even now, as a senior, those people are still my closest friends, and I still really lean into them when I'm having problems and also, obviously, in the good times. So yeah, that's my personal advice.
I think that orientation will be amazing. We've been planning for months. And we're very excited with the program that we have planned. And we're excited for you all to get to know each other and get to know us and have an amazing first year.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you so much, Moriah, and also Bryan, for those outstanding words. And I know a lot of you are excited to hear from students. So I'm going to come back to Bryan and Moriah shortly with a few other questions that I'm going to ask them so they can give you a little bit more advice.
You know, Moriah alluded to something there that I wanted to just expand on for a moment before I ask Adi to take over. And that's, early on, as we go through the moving process and the very early days of the semester, we're doing a lot of stuff virtually. And the reason for that is we've got people coming from all over the country, all over the world, to Ithaca.
And we want to make sure that, for those first couple of weeks, as we get our testing regimen underway with students and we make sure that everybody goes through their testing and gets their negative results, we want to make sure to contain any virus that does come into Ithaca, extensively, right at the beginning. And so that's why she referenced that, as we go along into this semester and have low prevalence, that we hopefully will be able to start to do a little bit more of these types of things in person. But we are going to take an overly conservative approach initially, because we think that is the safest and the best way to transition students back to campus.
All right, so with that, I'm going to ask now for my colleague Adi to come up. She again, just to remind you, is the executive director for undergraduate diversity education and also the director of the Intergroup Dialogue Program.
ADI GRABINER-KEINAN: Thank you, Ryan. Again, welcome, everyone. So good to be here with you. So many of us here, and other faculty and staff, in the last few weeks, have been working so hard to create a meaningful experience for you in the first few weeks here and beyond orientation. And I think this moment of actually engaging with you and talking with you is the fun moment for us.
As you probably noticed-- and I hope you noticed-- the Cornell community is so diverse and complex. In the next few years, you will have this amazing opportunity to meet students, faculty, and staff from many different places who have such unique and different backgrounds. You will have an opportunity to engage with people who are different from you, and hopefully to learn from their lived experiences.
We believe that these kind of engagement, both inside and outside the classroom, is really what makes the Cornell experience so unique and so special. Communication and collaboration across difference, these are some of the key aspects of our Cornell experience. The ability to communicate, to collaborate, and to learn across differences as well as to learn from someone else's lived experiences, will enable you, we hope, to maximize what you gain from your time here. In the next few weeks, you're going to find yourself in such fascinating courses, seminars, labs. But really the Cornell experience extends far beyond what he's learned in the classroom.
We hope to help you learn and practice how to do this work, across difference, to allow you to actively contribute to making Cornell a more open and welcoming community, and also to prepare you for your future in, as we all know, an increasingly interconnected, global world, and to help you gain some important skills for leading, working, and living across differences.
Academic diversity at Cornell-- we try to focus on certain development areas to help you practice and do this kind of work that I just described. Academic diversity at Cornell focuses on four main development areas. I want to explain some of them and to help you understand what are some of the exciting opportunities you can be part of in your time here at Cornell.
I first want to focus on human connection. Here at Cornell, we tried to help our students learn how to form meaningful relationships across difference that enhance your college experience, broaden your perspective, and strengthen a sense of belonging. Jenny mentioned how hard we work to create a sense of belonging during orientation. And we want to continue doing this work after orientation, inside and outside the classroom. Again, you're going to meet so many new people. And we want to create opportunities for you to form meaningful relationships and meaningful connections.
Next, personal and social identity-- we will provide you with opportunities inside and outside the classroom to learn more about yourself and others around you. The big existential questions-- who am I, who are you? These are some of the questions we are going to explore, hopefully, in the next few years with you, what are your core beliefs, values, and identities, and how they inform your present, and your future, and your choices, and who you are, and how you want to connect with others.
Another area of development that we try to focus on is communication skills. We believe that it's super important to learn how to talk with others, how to communicate in a way that allows us to really listen to others, really learn from other people who, again, might be very, very different from us, and how to express ourselves in a way that fosters and strengthens connections and relationships, how to bring our true authentic self into this experience at Cornell, and many other dynamics and opportunities that you will have here.
Last, strategizing for change. We want to help you understand theoretical framework but also to use practical tools to take steps towards change. And by change, I mean change we can work on ourselves, but also change here on campus and in the world beyond Cornell. I'm always impressed and always full with joy to hear the stories of our alumni and what they're doing outside Cornell. All of them are true agents of change in many different fields, many different communities and sectors. And I think we have this responsibility and opportunity to work with you and to help all of us learn what kind of change we want to make and how to do it in an empathetic and effective way.
As Jenny mentioned, in the next few weeks, you will have several orientation experiences and opportunities to learn a little bit about some of the things I just mentioned. I want to highlight the Community at Cornell program that we designed for you. One is designed for students. And I hope you already got some information through the To Do list in your colleges. The Community at Cornell program has three main parts-- the writing and reading assignment, we also prepared an interesting video module for you, where you can learn and hear other students like you and young alumni sharing their stories of challenge, connection, and change here at Cornell, and hopefully, as Ryan mentioned, at some point, our in-person sessions in an intimate group setting to allow you to get to know other people.
For the families of the new Cornellians, we developed a video module where you can join and see what your family members, your new Cornellians, are watching and engaging with. Please check your Family Guide to get more information about that. I also want to quickly highlight some future academic opportunities. In the chat soon you will see a link to the Intergroup Dialogue Program website, and another link to Education 2610. This is our core course for intergroup dialogue. I invite all of you to check these websites to learn a little bit more about some of the offerings that we have here at Cornell to help you develop and strengthen your tools, and your skills, and your understandings of communication and collaboration across difference. Thank you, and good luck with everything. Back to your, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you so much, Adi. And let me just underscore, because she would never say this herself, but the Intergroup Dialogue Program is one of the true treasures of our campus. Our students receive it so well, and appreciate the skills they learn, the opportunity they have to demonstrate authenticity, and growth, and learning, and talking across difference. I can't emphasize enough how important and valuable it is to this campus. So thank you, Adi, for sharing some of that and all the other good advice.
All right, our last scheduled speaker before I go back and ask some questions of our students to answer for you, is Brandee Nicholson. And as I mentioned, Brandee is one of our assistant directors in residential life. So she's going to talk a little bit about what you can expect in the residence halls, if you're coming to campus, from a programmatic perspective. Brandee, it's all yours.
BRANDEE NICHOLSON: Thank you, Ryan. I first of all want to thank my colleague. Several of them on the panel have already talked about how important the residential experience is. And I obviously cannot agree more. I want to make sure that students understand that, this semester, we're really going to be focusing on connection and support as you move through your residential experience. When you come to campus, you're going to meet our amazing residential life team, which is composed of all RAs and SRAs-- those are student leaders who work in the residence halls-- and our professional staff.
So we have professional residence hall directors and an area coordinator, as well as faculty and residents in most of our communities. They all live in the communities with their families and with the students, side by side. And these are truly dedicated professionals who are really interested in the safety, support, and the needs of the students in the halls.
We know that college is always a challenging time, of figuring out who you are, and what you want to do, and meet your future friends that are going to last a lifetime. And now we have the added component of COVID. So to that end, our staff are often the people that students feel comfortable going to first when they're confused or they just need some help. And we not only welcome that, but we really encourage it. And then we work with the rest of our amazing campus partners to make sure that we're meeting the unique needs of those students and helping them to meet those challenges.
As we help students build connection this semester, what you'll really notice is that our staff are going to be reaching out a lot, checking in with students, asking them how they're doing. It may be virtually initially. But certainly they're going to be walking the halls, saying hello and making connections. As it was already mentioned, we will have activities in the halls as well, and floor meetings to make sure that you're able to connect with other students in a safe way within your community.
Jenny also talked about some of the student organizations that are available on campus. And I really want to highlight that we have a couple of opportunities within the residence halls. We have community councils and our Residential Student Congress. Both are great ways to get connected with other students in those organizations and the professional staff advisors, but also to advocate for other students on campus, and what that experience can be like this semester, and provide that support. Residential Student Congress has already been super busy figuring out how they're going to help their fellow students in this environment.
So say you do all of those things-- you've gone to programs, you've connected with your RA, you get involved in some student organizations, and you're still feeling like you haven't connected very well. It's feeling really awkward. How do I walk up to somebody and say hello? I'm trying to be safe on campus.
First of all, know that probably everyone around you is also feeling that way, wanting to make connections and wanting to stay safe. But your RAs are really great at being able to help with that. Through these conversations that they're having with you, they're going to be able to say, like, oh, I know that these two students are really interested in the same thing. And I can make that introduction to help them get over that sort of awkward moment.
One of the things that we've also gotten a lot of questions about is guests-- will we allow guests in the residence halls? So once we get through move-in and our testing, we will allow guests that are part of the Cornell community. Because we've all agreed to the same testing, surveillance, and the behaviors in the behavioral compact, we know that this will be a safer community where we can connect with one another and you can have guests. We won't be allowing guests from outside of the community because we don't have that same understanding. I do want to say, though, whenever you have a guest, if you have a roommate, make sure that you've had a conversation with them and you're both on the same page about it.
So we're really excited to have you coming back to campus and really looking forward to getting to meet all of you very, very soon. I'm going to give it back to Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you so much, Brandee. I appreciate it. Great advice. And we appreciate all of the staff and the residence halls that are going to help our students get settled in this fall, you that are able to make it to campus and join us in person.
Great. So we have-- let's see, it's 3:56. I know we were saying that we were going to end at 4:00. So I think we're going to go a little bit over, but try not to go too long. I've got a couple of questions I want to ask Moriah and Bryan to respond to so that they can give you the student perspective on these questions that came in. I was going to ask them a few more than I'm going to have time for. But I will still hit them with a couple here.
The first one, I'm going to throw to Moriah. Moriah, would you give our viewers today some advice in terms of what steps they should take right now to make sure they are prepared for their first semester.
MORIAH ADEGHE: Yeah, definitely. So I think, first and foremost, right now, the focus should be on staying healthy, quarantining if you need to be, and then I think, from there, I think you should be preparing to meet new people during orientation, getting comfortable wearing a mask more often. I know I just got to Ithaca a few days ago. And wearing a mask as often as I have to do now compared to when I was at home and staying at home has been definitely an adjustment. So definitely get into the mindset of that and wearing a mask often.
And then, aside from that, I would say, start packing. Don't wait till the last minute for that. Read up on classes you want to take. Think about what organizations and clubs you might want to join.
As Ryan mentioned, I am on the Student Assembly. And I got involved with that my freshman year. And I'm not going to be a senior, and I'm still involved. And that was something that I researched before I got the campus, maybe in July or August, before I arrived. And I got involved right as I got to campus. So that's actually something that I would recommend, is figuring out what you want to do. And then once Clubfest rolls around, and once organizations start publishing how they're going to do either recruitment or how you can join in the fall, definitely be mindful of that and be ready to participate in that.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Moriah. And I'm going to do a little plug here since you started talking about masks. I was supporting my Cornell-branded mask today when I was out on campus. Students, as Moriah says, this is going to be one of the key things-- not this particular mask, but your own mask-- is going to be one of the key things that you need to make sure you're incredibly diligent with this year, basically except when you're in your own residence hall room and except perhaps if you're out and about on campus and able to maintain a good distance from everyone. Other than that, this thing should be on your face at all times, and if not on your face, handy so you can put it on if you encounter any other people.
This will be absolutely critical to our success. So thanks for that shout-out, Moriah. I'm getting used to it too.
Next I'm going to go to Bryan. Bryan, the question came about whether you have any recommendations of cool classes for new students.
BRYAN WEINTRAUB: Yes, definitely. So for our new students in particular, if you're looking for some really cool introductory classes, some of the ones that I would recommend, if you're into psychology, check out Psych 1101. That's our intro psychology class. Tends to be one of the most popular classes on campus. Introductory astronomy is also great, that's from New Worlds to Black Holes. Apparently Bill Nye has been known to make guest appearances in that class every once in a while. So you may get a Zoom lecture with Bill Nye. Who knows?
The introductory computer science class, Computing with Python, is supposed to be great. I really enjoyed introductory government, which was the Intro to American Government Politics. Great course, especially, I think, as we're going into an election season. There's so much going on with the government now.
If you're looking for a bit more-- some higher-level classes, I would look in PAM 2350, which is a Policy Analysis and Management class-- actually in Moriah's major-- it's called the US Health Care System. Probably my favorite class that I've taken so far at Cornell. And it just gives you such a great overview of how everything works within the health care system, whether that's how do you become a doctor, how does insurance work, how is all of that stuff intertwined to make sure that our country is healthy. So, really interesting. And I'm sure it will be a great course, particularly this semester as we're dealing with health disparities.
Looking forward to the spring, two things to keep an eye out for-- The First American University, which is a Cornell history class, taught by professor Corey Ryan Earle, who is fantastic. I cannot recommend that class more highly. And I haven't even taken it yet. And then also Human Bonding, which is about the science of love, and relationships, and breakups. And professor [? Hasan ?] is wonderful, has been teaching the class for years, and teaches, you a lot that you really did not know about human relationships, and interpersonal bonding, and stuff like that.
So definitely check out those. But there are a lot of great options. And keep an eye out on that class roster for what's going to come out.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Some great advice, Bryan. I appreciate it. Thank you for sharing that with everybody. I like that Bill Nye reference. He was our convocation speaker recently. I can't remember, was that last year or the year before? I don't remember now. I'm losing track. But that was a lot of fun.
And your comment about the election this year reminded me to make sure our students know that we do have a great Cornell Votes initiative on campus. So you'll be hearing more about that in the coming weeks. I'm actually about to record an audio clip encouraging people to get out to vote this fall. So you'll be hearing a little bit more about that.
All right, I am going to ask our students one last question. But I'm going to ask them both to answer this, not at the same time, of course. Maybe I'll start with Bryan and then I'll kick to Moriah. So the last question-- and this was one that came through-- is really, what is your best piece of advice for new students? Any advice that you could give them as they're just a couple of days if not weeks away from being on campus? Bryan, why don't you go first, and then we'll switch over to Moriah.
BRYAN WEINTRAUB: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Ryan. I'll give you two pieces of advice. For this semester in particular, be safe. Make good decisions. The success of this experiment, the success of our semester, relies on the fact that all of our students are going to make good decisions, they're going to follow the behavioral compact, they're going to be sure to act in responsible ways that are safe. That makes such a difference to all of us. And that's really important.
But setting aside the COVID situation, I think just make the most of your time. Try to live every day as if it's a singular day. Just try to enjoy every day that you have at Cornell. Because before soon, you're going to realize that you don't have that many left. I'm realizing that right now as a senior. And it's really important to make sure that, whatever you're doing, you're enjoying it, that you're trying to find happiness, to find the things that you like. And it may take some time. It definitely takes some time to get into your groove. But be resilient. Be present, be resilient, and just go with the flow. Try to have a good time. Because I think you'll find that you're really, really going to love it here. It's an amazing, amazing place.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thanks, Bryan. Appreciate that advice for our new students. Now Moriah, your turn. What's your best advice for our new students?
MORIAH ADEGHE: Yeah, so going off of what Bryan said, definitely staying safe. We don't want anybody getting COVID. So it's definitely important to be hand sanitizing, washing your hands, wearing your mask, all of that good stuff. But in addition to that, I would agree, I think having as much fun as possible, trying to relax, taking care of your mental health. I know these past few months have been very stressful for many of us. But I think that Cornell is a place where you can have a lot of fun. It is an amazing place.
And so trying to make the most out of your time here. And kind of going off of what I said earlier, definitely trying to put yourself out there. Make new friends. Try and engage with those virtual orientation programs that we have. And kind of just really try and get involved as much as you can.
Willingness is something that sometimes freshmen struggle with. And during this semester, I think it's something to even be more mindful of. And so I think, this semester especially, really putting yourself out there and trying to stay connected to people during this interesting, hectic time is really important. And I think that that's my most important piece of advice for freshmen, is really to stay connected, get involved, have fun, so you can have as good of a freshman year as you possibly can.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you so much. That's such good advice. And for everyone watching today-- I know there were a lot of parents on there, too-- you can quickly see why I have the very best job on campus, because I get to work with these spectacular students. And Moriah and Bryan are certainly a shining example of that. They're just a true joy. And I look forward to equally getting to know all of the students who are listening and will soon be on campus with us as well, whether, again, that's here this fall or at a later semester for those of you who are staying home. But Cornell students are so special.
So let me just wrap up. I know we're about five minutes over. And I know a few folks have had to drop off. But I do want to just wrap up with a few things. I want to say that, as I mention every forum, in wrap-up, that everything we're doing here is to open and create the best possible educational experience while also really focusing on health and safety.
You've got some great advice today from students. And you got to see my mask here. This is going to be so critical that we follow closely the physical distancing guidelines, the mask-wearing, and all those diligent steps. I know we can do it, Cornellians. There are folks out there who are certainly questioning that. But I have incredible confidence in Cornell students. You saw an example of two of them today. And you can understand why I have such confidence in our students.
I do want to just encourage you to continue to review all of the health resources, all the information for those that are quarantining before your arrival or after your arrival, that you can view. There is a great website that has just been posted in the chat for you to take a look at on our Cornell health website. Please, please, please do all you can to understand how to care for yourself, but also for our community. Ithaca is a very special community here. And we've had very low prevalence of COVID-19 in our region. We very much want to keep it that way as you come in. But we are here to support you and we're here to work through this together.
I want to just thank everybody for their continued support as we prepare to reopen this year. Your messages of support and affirmation continue to uplift the team while we're all working, virtually nonstop, to get ready for your arrivals.
I do want to thank the team again who was on here today-- our panelists, everyone behind the scenes, our technology folks, folks posting links in there. I just want to appreciate everybody who has been contributing. I do want to put a shout-out for our next forum. It is currently scheduled for next week, Thursday, August 20, at 2:00 PM Eastern. We're moving times around. We realize those aren't perfect for everybody. But we have a lot of international scenes we're trying to accommodate too. And that's why our times keep bouncing around a little bit, to try to capture as many people as possible.
Next week is really going to dig in even more deeply to life on campus for all students. So today was really focused a bit more for new students, as you gathered. But next week, life on campus for all students, things like-- and this was a question that I addressed a little bit-- what will be open in terms of fitness centers, and libraries, and dining, and how will that work, student orgs, all those types of things. I know some of you will be here by then for some of our early arrivals. But please try to tune in next week, and we'll try to share some additional good information for you.
And of course overlapping all of that is the Q Week programming that you heard about today, which will be beginning very soon, as well as a lot of the orientation programming.
My last plug-- continue to go to COVID.Cornell.edu to get all the updates as our plans continue to take shape and get finalized, but also if you want to rewatch today's panel to soak in a little more of that good advice from my colleagues and from our students today.
With that, I want to wish you all, very sincerely, a wonderful weekend. It's 4:09 in Ithaca right now, 4:09 PM. And I want to wish you all a very wonderful weekend. I want to spend a lot of support for health, and safety, and safe travels for those of you who are making your way. And please know how excited we are, if you are making it to campus, to welcome you, and if you're not, how excited we are to get to know you in a more virtual setting.
Please continue to take care. And I look forward to seeing you again next week if not sooner. Thank you very much. Have a great weekend.
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Note: The information shared in this video is accurate as of August 14, 2020, but continues to develop. Please visit covid.cornell.edu for current updates and for links to the most recent recordings.
Ryan Lombardi, Vice President for Student & Campus Life, hosted a forum on Aug. 14 for new Cornell students and their families to answer questions about the student experience for first-year and transfer students. Panelists: Jenny Loeffelman, Assistant Vice President, Student & Campus Life; Adi Grabiner Keinan, Executive Director for Undergraduate Diversity Education and Director, Intergroup Dialogue Project; Amy Godert, Director, Learning Strategies Center and Executive Director, Academic Student Success Programs; and Moriah Adeghe and Bryan Weintraub, Orientation Steering Committee Members.