It’s Week 5! But our work continues ...

Sept. 24, 2020

Dear SNC students,

Tuesday I attended the first faculty meeting of the year. What a joy to see more than 100 of your faculty populating the squares on my screen! It was a bittersweet meeting for me. The sweet: seeing and hearing from our esteemed faculty, each of whom has gone to heroic lengths to make this semester possible. The bitter: being on Zoom and not in person. I miss the joyful, dynamic, and liberating feeling of “normal” human interpersonal interactions, those that are so central to our community and connections. I, of course, miss that type of engagement with not only faculty and staff, but with all of you as well.

As I reflected on all we are experiencing, I feel continued hope. Our faculty, our staff, and you – our students – continue to make enormous sacrifices so we can be together on campus. Your commitment gives me great hope that we will one day move beyond the COVID-19 realities. And as we work toward that day, please know I am grateful and admire you, fellow Green Knights, for everything you are doing.

While I have hope, I also have concerns. Gov. Evers issued an extension to the state of Wisconsin mask mandate because, in part, our state is experiencing a significant uptick in the number of positive cases and hospitalizations. The largest increases in Wisconsin have been in the 18-24 age group. Our own SNC COVID-19 dashboard reveals we are also seeing an increase in positive cases since Labor Day weekend. While there is no need for panic, we also cannot become complacent.

Colleges and universities across the nation and in Wisconsin have had to implement temporary lockdowns, shelter-in-place orders for residence halls, and/or complete campus shutdowns. We, too, are actively exploring such measures as we carefully monitor daily trends. Tomorrow we will be sharing additional refinements to our guidelines, specifically for the next two weeks, to help us remain on campus for the rest of the semester.

Overall, your efforts as a student body have been remarkable. While we are seeing problematic behavior in some areas, in recent days we have had an overall decrease in complaints about alcohol and noise incidents, fewer safety violations and fewer calls to Campus Safety and Residential Education & Housing.

You have responded extremely well to our call to care for one another, and I want to thank you for that. One way we are thanking the student body is in the form of COVIDCA$H. If you haven’t heard about it, learn more on the COVID CA$H website. Carol and I, and many other staff and faculty, have enjoyed walkingaround campus passing out COVID CA$H cards as we catch students wearing their masks correctly and following safety guidelines. If you receive a COVID CA$H card, you can drop it in the black box located in front of Main Hall for a chance to win a variety of prizes each week, such as AirPods, a golden parking pass that allows you to park anywhere on campus for a week, use of my vacated office for a day of your choice for studying, and more! The first COVID CA$H winner was student Melissa Andrade. Maybe you will be next!

Finally, we need to keep infusing our campus and each other with joy, hope and overall good vibes. This week, the faculty meeting and our amazing staff offered me that little boost, as did the many emails from students committing to staying safe. Thank you for that! Each of the emails made me smile. I’ve attached a photo to this email that I hope will bring you a little joy. It’s a sneak peek of the newest Bruess family member, our new puppy arriving mid-October. Stay tuned to your email for an opportunity to help name this adorable little guy.

Green Knights, we have just 63 days until Thanksgiving. We can do this. Yes, we can!

With admiration and eternal hope,