Dear Luddy SICE Graduate Students,
This Monday we are coming together again, albeit remotely, to continue with the rest of the Spring 2020 semester. As we do, I want to check in with you all to let you know that I and the Luddy SICE Graduate Student Office are here for you, ready to answer questions and help with issues you face in these extraordinary times. I also want to provide some information relevant to your learning, work, and wellbeing this semester; some of it you may already know, but I think it is important enough to be worth repeating.
Campus is currently closed for all except essential personnel, instruction will be online for the rest of the semester, all but essential on-campus research has been put on hold, and we need to stay in our homes and shelter in place until further notice. For many of us, the level of social isolation that is required and uncertainty concerning the future is unprecedented. I know I miss seeing my students, coworkers, and friends in person; I worry about my aging parents who are far away and socially isolated themselves; and I am anxious about the continuing health of my family and myself as a caregiver for two young children. It is difficult not to feel overwhelmed at least some of the time.
As we all adjust to the new routines of online learning and to spending more time at home and away from our regular in person activities, be kind to yourself and others and reach out if you need help addressing challenges. This is a good time to discuss your feelings and concerns, and ask for help if you need it from friends, family, and your colleagues, faculty, and staff here at IUB. If you need help completing your work as a student or employee, communicate this as early as possible to your instructors and supervisors so that they can work with you to develop alternative plans. I am sure everyone will understand, as we are all facing diverse challenges and conditions as we cope with the current situation. Communication is key – please get in touch with us and others around you so that we can work together to address any challenges you might be facing.
If you feel that you need professional help addressing your feelings of anxiety, social isolation, or other mental health issues during this time, CAPS is providing limited counseling services by phone or video (https://healthcenter.indiana.edu/counseling/index.html), so please reach out to them. If you are feeling physically unwell, the Health Center on campus continues to be open, but do check their daily hours as they may be different than usual: https://healthcenter.indiana.edu/about/hours-location.html. The IU Student Advocates office is taking applications for emergency funding related to the Coronavirus outbreak here: https://studentaffairs.indiana.edu/student-support/advocates/index.html. The Crimson Cupboard food pantry is open and provides freefood to students in need (https://studentaffairs.indiana.edu/student-support/crimson-cupboard/index.html ) .
As was noted on our School’s social media pages, students who live alone and don’t have regular contact with someone who would notice if they feel sick and need help or quit responding should consider having a “check-in buddy”. This involves doing the following:
* Identify one person for daily check-ins. Make sure to exchange phone numbers and physical addresses.
* Check in daily by a specific time. Just a simple text saying “I’m up and ok” is enough.
* If you don’t hear from your check-in partner by the specified time, attempt to contact the person.
* If you still can’t reach your check-in partner, call 911 and ask for a wellness check.
* For Luddy students, if you need a check-in partner, contact Lamara D. Warren, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the Luddy Office of Diversity and Inclusion, at email@example.com or 573-999-4868, and she will help you find a Luddy Buddy.
With the unique challenges of this semester in mind, the administration has made an S/F (satisfactory/fail) grading option available to graduate as well as undergraduate students. The S grade is meant to be used only in exceptional cases, where faculty know that a student has done enough to pass a course but cannot make a more nuanced evaluation to provide a letter grade. If you are in a situation where you might need to ask for an S grade, talk to your faculty member as early as possible to consider whether this is appropriate. It is also still possible to assign a grade of I(ncomplete), but be aware that this means leaving work for the student and faculty to deal with later. Students can let faculty know they are requesting an S grade any time before finals week (May 4-8 2020). The S grade for this semester will count towards all University Graduate School requirements. S grades will not affect the student’s GPA, and a transcript note will describe the circumstances for S grades this semester. Your faculty may discuss this option in more detail in your classes, but if you have further questions let me know.
The Luddy GSO staff and I are all working remotely as required, so the best way to reach us is via email (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com ), which we are checking regularly and responding to as quickly as we can. Please let us know if you have any questions about any of the new measures that have been put in place or need assistance. I hope you have a productive and reassuring week back after Spring break, and look forward to seeing you all in person as soon as we are able.
With warm regards,
Selma Šabanović, PhD
Pronouns: she, her, hers
Associate Professor of Informatics and Cognitive Science
Associate Dean for Graduate Education
The Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering
901 E. 10th Street Rm. 213, Bloomington, IN 47408
office: (812) 856-0386
Editor-in Chief, ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction