COVID-19 Behavior Expectations

From: VP Julie DeGraw
To: Students
Posted: August 21, 2020 at 10 a.m.

Greetings Students,

I hope your first week of class has been successful and that you are settling into a new routine for the fall semester. It has been wonderful to see students back on campus participating in events, engaging with one another, and attending classes, services, and other University programs. I have been impressed with the multiple #MaskUpValpo social media posts upon students returning to campus. In addition, I am pleased at the level of compliance by most students with the on-campus expectations of the daily temperature and health check, wearing masks and face coverings, and physical distancing during classes, events, and activities. We appreciate the efforts by so many to keep our campus safe!

As the University prepared for a Safe Return To Campus, student leaders helped to launch The Valpo Vow. In addition, the University outlined expectations for students, faculty, and staff through the COVID-19 Employee/Student Code of Conduct. The purpose of this Code is to achieve and maintain a safe and healthy University environment with the objective of resuming and maintaining normal University operations to the extent possible. This statement is to be applied to behavior both on and off campus, and it will aid all of us in staying safe and continuing in-person instruction and activities for the fall semester.

If you have been following along, this week’s local and national news have been filled with stories of other universities having to make the very difficult decision to go remote for the fall semester, limit in-class instruction, or move to fully online classes in an effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve on their campus. In nearly all of these situations, a small number of students chose to socialize in large groups off-campus without observing the safety protocols required on campus. We know that Valpo students can and will do better. Please understand that your actions on and off campus have consequences, and we need each one of you to choose the greater good of the larger University community over the short term “fun” that may be had at an off-campus gathering.

As we prepare for the first full weekend of the semester, we want to encourage each one of you to make choices that will enable Valparaiso University to remain an active and vibrant in-person learning community for all and fulfill our Valpo Vow. This means:

We will hold students responsible who attend or host off-campus social events where others are not wearing masks/face coverings, not physically distancing, and not following the expectations as outlined in the COVID-19 Employee/Student Code of Conduct. While socializing is one part of the college experience, we do not want to engage in activities that could harm the on-campus community by bringing infection back to campus. One poor decision by an individual may limit the opportunity for everyone to experience all of the other aspects of college life such as going to class, participating in student events and activities, engaging in athletic practices and training, attending on-campus performances and services, and so much more.

We will also hold students responsible who gather in groups on campus and do not wear their masks/face coverings or physically distance. For example, we have noticed there is an issue of students moving chairs around larger tables in the Founders Table dining area, which is not in compliance with our requirements for physical distancing.

While we have a good number of students completing the daily wellness check on #CampusClear, we could be doing much better. We will begin contacting those students who are not completing the #CampusClear check, and there will be outcomes for those not in compliance.

In the event that we have students who do not live up to these expectations, please know that we will act swiftly. There will be consequences for anyone found violating the Valparaiso University Student Code of Conduct and/or the COVID-19 Student Code of Conduct during this unprecedented set of circumstances. Whether the behavior is documented on or off campus, those consequences will include all available accountability options, up to and including suspension or expulsion. We cannot put the actions of one individual above the health and safety of the University community.

Should you have concerns about Valparaiso University students who are not following the expectations set forth in the COVID-19 Student Code of Conduct at off-campus events and gatherings, please contact the Valparaiso University Police Department at 219.464.5430 immediately.

The entire University community and I are asking that all students choose to “love thy neighbor” and make positive choices that will keep everyone healthy and safe during these challenging times. I wish each of you a successful fall semester, and please remember to access all COVID-19 related updates on the Looking Forward webpage.