Florida A&M’s Student Government Association hosted its first virtual town hall meeting Wednesday to discuss recent changes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FAMU leadership such as Rochard Moricette, student body president; William Hudson Jr., vice president for the Office of Student Affairs; Jennifer Wilder, director of the Office of Housing; Bryan Smith, who oversees anti-hazing efforts; and FAMU Police Department Chief Terence Calloway joined the call to discuss changes in their respective departments.
Most changes in departments on campus have been communicated through mass emails sent through FAMU INFO.
Topics discussed during the town hall, moderated Moricette, included grading policy modifications, housing and meal plan refunds, Tallahassee wide safety measures, and changes within health services.
“So really the purpose of this virtual Town Hall is to clear up any confusion that students may have as it relates to the plethora of coronavirus updates that the university has taken to ensure the safety of our students and that the university environment is not compromised by a virus,” Moricette said.
Recently, students have been frantic about the refunds given from housing and meal plans as stated in an email from FAMU housing. Wilder said that refunds will be given after a student’s balance is paid off.
“Refunds will be posted on your accounts as a credit to the account beginning April 20,” Wildersaid. “If you have a balance on your account already, then that refund will be applied to that balance to clear it.”
For students in off-campus housing who chose to remain in Tallahassee, their biggest concern is staying inside.
Before the statewide stay-at-home order issued Wednesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Tallahassee last week implemented a curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Chief Calloway talked to students about the city’s safety measures.
“We had a meeting the other day with Leon County Sheriff’s Office and Tallahassee PD and some of the issues we’re having is our students,” Calloway said. “Students in the apartment complexes are still gathering and having pool parties …. so we’re working on some things to try to rectify that.”
Students on and off-campus may still utilize the food pantry and clinic on campus. Director of Health Services, Tanya Tatum, assured students that health services as well as the food pantry will be available with certain changes.
“The food pantry is still operational and we are asking students to come between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.” Tatum said. “We’re only able to do the big food distribution once a month but we still have supplies and food for students.”
As for the clinic, coronavirus has forced Tatum’s staff to take endless precautions.
“It’s just important that students give us a call ahead of time,” said Tatum. “That way we can screen what they need to have done and then we can handle them or schedule an appointment as needed.”
Remote instruction and grade policy modifications were also discussed. With the virus’ spread showing no signs of slowing down, the university has decided to extend remote instruction through all portions of the summer, Hudson said.
“The provosts for the State University System of Florida met and came to a conclusion that based upon the president’s message, and now with the governor’s message as well, that remote instruction will be necessary for the summer, A, B, and C courses,” Hudson said.
Although remote instruction is extended into the summer courses, the grading policy modifications will not. With the extension of class withdrawal date being pushed to May 4 and the use of the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (U) policy, the option could either hurt or help your grade. Moricette urged students to receive advising before making any major decisions.
“And one thing that you have to keep in mind after May 6 is that you cannot go back to change your grades,” Moricette said.
All Florida A&M colleges and schools will allow this grading policy option with the exception of the College of Law and the College of Engineering.
More information regarding COVID-19 university changes can be found on FAMU.edu or through FAMU INFO.