Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Date: November 24, 2020

We recognize that the closure of the Residence Halls during this season has been a challenge for our students. Finding somewhere to land for over two months (especially when there are still two weeks of the semester left) is hard. Normally our dormitory housing is offered with a nine-month contract, and students know ahead of time that they will need alternate housing over the summer. Many occupants of the dorms would prefer a twelve-month contract (like the family apartments). After all, they are adult learners, many of whom sell their homes or, at the very least, stop renting a place to come to Seminary. So perhaps a word of explanation is helpful. The health guidance the Seminary received at the beginning of this academic year was clear: Thanksgiving and Christmas are high risk seasons. If everyone vowed to stay on the campus through the holidays, then perhaps we could have kept the Residence Halls open. But this was not going to happen. Students want to be with their families, and coming and going brings the risk of more COVID cases. Therefore, along with the majority of schools, we decided that Residence Halls would close from Thanksgiving until the start of the second semester. I am grateful for the imaginative ways that students have found to accommodate this challenge. Thank you.  The campaign for a twelve-month contract needs a longer discussion. In a normal year, the majority of single students do leave campus and head to their CPE venue or to a “Mid-Atlantic program.” In addition, we use the Residence Halls to provide housing for our doctoral students, so that they can enjoy the rhythm of class, chapel, and lunch here. Summer is also when we do repair and maintenance work on the halls. The complexities of a change here would be significant. However, as we enter a season of strategic planning, it is right that this issue is on the table. Let us have the conversation.  The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D. Dean and President

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