Student Updates from Vice President Patty Perillo

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Friday, March 20, 2020

The following message was sent to all UMD students by Vice President for Student Affairs Patty Perillo on Friday, March 20, 2020.


Dear Students,

By now you’ve heard the news from President Loh that we are moving to online education for the rest of the semester. We know that this is difficult news for you to hear, so I wanted to start by saying that we are really sorry.  We are sorry that you have lost a semester with friends on our beautiful campus --- one that was filled with lots of plans, hopes, and possibilities.  We are especially sorry for our graduating seniors and so many other students, such as our researchers, athletes, student organization leaders, performers and others, who were preparing to be “all in” on the Maryland student experience this semester.  And, no matter how much we know that this decision is the right thing to do for the safety of our community and world, it is also really hard because you’ve lost something. Both of these truths can be held in the same place --- it is right and it is hard! But, as is true with most losses, once you work through the difficulty of it all, you will – we will – emerge stronger than ever!

As you’ve heard from the Department of Resident Life, all students currently living on-campus will need to move out.  Additionally, all other students who have belongings in the residence halls will need to schedule a specific move-out date and time via the Housing PortalStudents living in Fraternity Row and the Graham Cracker are also being asked to vacate their houses.  We have tried very hard to balance ways to care for you in this process while, also honoring the needs of staff who need to be on campus to facilitate the move out process.  There is no greater time than now, during a pandemic, to remember that we are all in this together.  As such, honoring stated guidelines, engaging in social distancing, and doing things for the greater good are all the makings for our “Do Good” campus campaign.  And, know that we will do good by our students who have significant extenuating circumstances and need to remain on campus; please use our application process for such.  If you have extenuating circumstances, and cannot make the move out dates, please email reslife@umd.edu. We will certainly work with you and your families as we’ve always done!

While we have sent specific communication to residential students, we need all students to take heed – now!  We are at a critical juncture as a campus community and we need everyone to engage in social distancing practices.  This means that ALL students should do their part and leave the campus community and surrounding city.  Remaining in off-campus housing, with other groups of students, is not following health, state and federal expectations.  Whether you reside in one of our off campus apartment complexes, a rented group house, South Campus Commons, University Courtyards, an off campus fraternity or sorority, or other housing in the City of College Park, we encourage you to move out and travel safely to your permanent home.  Please do your part and do not remain in a rented space with roommates, as it makes social distancing much harder and you increase the likelihood of getting ill and/or causing others to get sick.

As our students, your health, safety and well-being is a foundational and fundamental priority of ours.  As such, we’ve spent the last eight weeks – literally - considering all the ways we can care for you and our campus community during this time. We’ve thought about how to provide care and support for students virtually and proactively.  We’ve thought a lot about how to care for the most vulnerable.  We want to remind you that our University Health Center remains open for limited hours, our Counseling Center remains available for tele-therapy and our Accessibility and Disability Service office remains available to support students in need.

In spite of this hardship, we do hope this note finds you healthy and well, and that you are all finding ways to feel comfortable in this new normal for us, for now. While we imagine many of you started this Spring Break week in a totally different physical and emotional place than you are now, and far too much has changed too quickly, we need you to know that we in Student Affairs cannot – and will not – stop thinking of you and working with and for you.  We never forget that you are the reason we are here.

We have been focusing on proactive ways to connect with you, and are pleased to launch a new website -- keepconnected.umd.edu.  It is our hope to use this site to promote opportunities for you to stay connected to the University of Maryland community virtually. Check back regularly as new opportunities will continue to be added.  While we are all being asked to engage in social distancing practices, which is critical to protect the most vulnerable among us, we can still stay connected in so many other ways!

As you settle in for the next few weeks and continue social distancing, and we all begin to understand more what remote and online learning might look like, I want to offer some thoughts about how we might approach our lives together during this time of unparalleled crisis:

  • Take good care of yourself. – Your health and well-being are most important.
  • Take good care of each other. –It is what it means to be a Terp and good citizen.
  • Offer grace to yourself and others. – People are doing the best they can, in unprecedented times, as I know you are, too. Offer forgiveness, not judgment.
  • Find ways to manage your emotions. – Navigating so much change and uncertainty is unsettling, so find the support you need.
  • Use this time to center and reflect on your life. – Make sure that your actions are aligned with your values and you are living the purposeful life you want to live.

While I am keenly aware we are navigating uncharted waters, emotions are heightened as we face the unknown and there are still many more decisions to be made, I know that we will get through this passage together.  These are unprecedented times for certain.  Please remember to continue checking umd.edu/virusinfo and reading all university communications for the latest news and resources related to COVID-19; and email healthconcerns@umd.edu for any non-medical coronavirus-related questions.  If you have additional questions, please email VPSA@umd.edu. We are here to support you!

I know we will sustain this difficult time and come out stronger and a more connected community on the other side. I believe in the power and transformative possibility of this great community – we are M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D!  I believe in each and every one of you!   

With hope and deep desire for you to keep connected, 

Patty Perillo
Vice President for Student Affairs

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