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WSU leaders ask students to persist on path to college degrees

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Washington State University leaders expressed disappointment over the decision to move to distance learning for the Fall 2020 semester, but asked students not to let it halt their pursuit of a college degree.

“I want to tell you we are truly sorry,” Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales said. “You have every right to be feeling exactly what you’re feeling right now.”

She continued, “But regardless of what you’re feeling, we need you to continue to your degree. Keep working at it, don’t give up, no matter where you are or how angry you are right now, you have worked way too hard to get here.”

Whether starting at WSU as a freshmen or transfer student this fall, or returning to complete their educational program, Gonzales asked students to persist, noting that WSU faculty and staff are here to assist. And that advice won’t change even for students who might decide to continue their studies at a community college instead this fall, WSU President Kirk Schulz added.

Thousands of members of the Coug community watched Friday’s hour-long town hall, which featured Schulz, Provost Elizabeth Chilton, Vice Provost for Academic Engagement Mary Wack, Dean of Students Jill Creighton and Gonzales. The town hall can be watched in its entirety online.

A majority of the event was spent reviewing recently announced changes across the WSU system for the fall semester. A WSU Pullman-focused message released Thursday and available online, detailed the decision to move undergraduate classes to distance delivery for the fall semester, with a very limited number of exceptions.

“We are going to make sure that every essential academic support service that a student would have on campus will be available in the remote environment,” Wack said.

That includes digital access to WSU Library resources, virtual tutoring for more than 90 courses, academic and career advising among other resources. Cougar Health Services will continue to provide services to students and University Recreation will persist in offering remote fitness classes.

Many questions viewers had pertained to tuition and fees. Tuition will not be reduced for the fall semester, Schulz said, noting that WSU’s first priority is to ensure an exceptional educational experience for all students. That requires giving faculty and staff the resources they need to provide this outstanding experience, regardless of whether classes take place in-person or remotely.

More information on mandatory student fees will be provided by Aug 7.

WSU will finalize the Fall 2020 course schedule on Aug. 1, which will have details about course delivery. That same day, information regarding WSU Pullman graduate coursework and instructional delivery methods will also be announced.

Those with questions about housing were directed to the university’s housing website by Gonzales. She noted that WSU students who choose to live at home during the fall will be in compliance with the First-year Live in Requirement. While WSU is encouraging students to live at their permanent residence during the fall, not everyone can do so. As a result, WSU Pullman will allow students with demonstrated institutional need the ability to live on campus.

The WSU Office of Financial Aid is prepared to answer student questions and has resources on its website, Wack noted. Students receiving federal financial aid continue to be eligible for it through the end of the fall semester.

Two upcoming virtual town halls were announced during the broadcast. On July 31, WSU leaders will convene to address the community beginning at 1 p.m. An all-campuses student town hall will also be taking place beginning at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 12. More information on those events will be released soon.

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