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Community Care Standards

Rather than establishing a set of specific behavioral guidelines, VassarTogether has developed community care standards around an ethos of looking out for one another—of bringing meaning to the phrase “we precedes me.” This ethos calls for all students and employees not only to be in community but also to act in community. Community care means that we think both about the individual and the communal impacts of the things we do and how they contribute to minimizing the potential for the spread of COVID-19.

While these norms are written to the attention of students, we expect these standards to be followed by every member of our campus community, including but not limited to faculty, administrators, and staff. In particular, we look to employees as models for this behavior. Finally, we’d like to note that these standards are constructed to prioritize readability and accessibility: We envision these standards as living, breathing practices that both reflect and guide the heart of the community at Vassar.

Even more, community care asks us to think deeply about the ways we talk with and help each other uphold these norms and standards. Curiosity, education, and empathy should be at the center of these encounters as we continue to build a community that values and protects the health of all members, including those on campus and throughout the greater Poughkeepsie area.

Depending on the continued evolution of COVID-19 and the science of it, we may need to update these norms. In some instances, this might mean that some expectations can be loosened. In other cases, this could mean that we will have to enhance the norms and standards listed below. VassarTogether will communicate updates to the community as they become available.

Individual and Community Norms

All students returning to campus are required to sign the VassarTogether Commitment, as follows:

By returning to campus to be part of “VassarTogether,” I commit to bring meaning to the phrase, “We precedes me.” I take this opportunity to not just “be” in community but also to “act” in community. I understand that the College may have to shift its practices based on guidelines set forth by New York State and/or federal, regional, and local public health guidelines.

As a member of the Vassar community, I agree to the following Commitments:

  • I commit to remaining on campus from my arrival date in August until I leave campus for the semester on/around November 20. I understand that compliance with this is crucial to the health and safety of the entire community. I understand that leaving campus will be permissible in the case of emergencies and in limited situations that require prior approval from the Dean of the College office and that those who are approved to leave campus will be subject to additional COVID-19 testing upon return. *For students living off-campus, you may not invite students living on campus to your residence. You must complete the on-line health screen daily.

  • I commit to following all campus access policies, including the guest policy. I understand that no non-Vassar community member may enter campus buildings, including my house and dorm.

  • I commit to wearing a mask in compliance with the campus mask policy.

  • I commit to always maintaining at least six feet between myself and others when possible.

  • I commit to navigating spaces on campus safely, including using hand sanitizer frequently, wiping down surfaces when deemed necessary to do so, and following all building signage regarding capacity limits, traffic flow, and other safety measures.

  • I commit to undergoing COVID-19 PCR testing within seven days prior to arriving on campus, twice within 14 days of arriving on campus, and additional testing as required.

  • I commit to cooperating with contact tracing initiatives, including, but not limited to, self-attesting to my health through the mobile app as required, potentially daily. I understand that I am encouraged to self-monitor for symptoms every morning.

  • I commit to self-quarantine and isolation if it is deemed necessary for me to do so. I understand that the College will provide a separate residential space for students who are symptomatic or determined to have COVID-19, as well as a separate space for close contacts or individuals who might be positive.

  • I commit to processes connected to the Community Care Team (CCT), including engaging in restorative conversations when invited to participate in such. If I notice a behavior that is concerning, I will follow the intervention guidelines as laid out by the CCT.

  • I understand that public health conditions might require the College to shift to remote learning on very short notice and that I will be responsible for my transportation and removal and/or storage of my personal belongings if the closure of residence halls is required.

Other General Norms

  • All community members will follow guidelines set by the Health Service regarding PPE, social distancing, and the like—recognizing that such benefit the community by keeping everyone safe.
  • All community members will assume best intent: When someone is not following safety precautions, assume first that there may be a valid reason or unintentional oversight. Offer to assist others in following the standard (ask if they need help acquiring/making a face covering, finding an optimal space for their gathering, etc.), and when reminded yourself, respond with “thank you for reminding me.”
  • Remain up to date on standards. These standards will be updated and changed over time. It is expected that all community members will stay educated in order to follow all norms.

Use of Physical Spaces on Campus:

  • Classroom spaces have been furnished to accommodate social distancing; no new furniture should be brought into classrooms.
  • Academic buildings will be open via card access for students during business hours and with approval. Faculty will have access to academic buildings at any time, weekdays and weekends, after hours.
  • Employees will have access to the academic buildings during the workday (offices, classrooms, labs, etc.). Card access in the evenings/weekends to academic buildings will be restricted to those who apply for that access because of specific needs/requirements.
  • Avoid having multiple individuals in narrow halls or rooms where a six-foot distance is not possible. Please look for and respect the traffic/directional and distancing markings for entry, exit, and movement down hallways.
  • Use sanitizing wipes to clean all chairs, tables, and surfaces upon entry into a classroom or shared space. If possible, wipe again before leaving.
  • Avoid sharing office water coolers and coffee machines across offices.
  • Please leave doors open and, if possible, open windows to maximize air circulation in classrooms and other meeting spaces.
  • Use hand sanitizer before entering and upon exiting elevators. There should be no more than one person in small elevators and no more than two people in freight-sized elevators. Limit touching buttons with bare hands when possible.
  • In stairwells, use hand sanitizer prior to entry and avoid touching handrails. Use sanitizer upon exit, after opening crash bar doors.
  • All buildings will be card-access only. In order to limit density in buildings, people should keep their entry into buildings on campus to a minimum.
  • Bathrooms in academic and administrative buildings are limited to one occupant at a time. Before leaving the bathroom, please be sure to clean up any mess and wash your hands . Individuals waiting to use the restroom should stand at least six feet from the door so that others can safely exit.

Social Interactions on Campus:

  • During Phase 2, students are allowed to gather indoors in groups up to 10 or the maximum permitted by COVID-19 room capacities (see room signage), whichever is fewer. Everyone is required to wear a mask and remain 6 feet apart in such gatherings.

    People may gather for approved organized activities in numbers of 25 or fewer in masks with 6 feet of distance (if stationary and 6 feet apart they can remove masks). All such gatherings must be approved in advance by campus activities. Otherwise, all outdoor gatherings must have 10 or fewer people.
  • Faculty and other employees should refrain from having students in their homes.

Accountability: Responding to Instances Where Community Standards Are Violated

Our safety protocols are multilayered, encompassing testing, social distancing, mask-wearing, and enhanced cleaning. We recognize that there will be instances when a member of the community does not adhere to a community norm, either intentionally or inadvertently. In these cases, we ask that members in the community serve as the first “carefront” in responding to these violations. For example, if an individual is not wearing a mask you might approach them and offer solutions to where they might acquire one.

Accountability for these standards is supported through the Community Care Team. The Community Care Team (CCT) is a highly collaborative group of students and employees, chaired by Dean Wendy Maragh Taylor of Student Growth and Engagement and having organizational support from Sarah Garijo-Garde, Community Care Program Associate. Members of the CCT receive training in bystander intervention, restorative practices, and unconscious bias work. Members of the CCT meet with individuals who have been identified as potentially causing harm to the community to engage in a restorative conversation. All actions taken by the CCT are non-punitive in nature, and we offer coaching to those who are willing to “carefront” their peers or colleagues.

If you notice instances of harm being done to the community, please reach out to the CCT by filling out the CCT Assist Form. When submitting a CCT Assist Form, email addresses will now be automatically collected to help understand patterns and effectively follow up on concerns. These will be seen only by Dean Maragh Taylor and Sarah Garijo-Garde and will be kept private. In particular instances, it may be appropriate to call the Campus Response Center (845) 437-5221) prior to/in addition to filling out a Community Care Assist form. These situations specifically include large gatherings where there may be impaired judgement, which could put the community at greater risk. Please contact Safety & Security (CRC) at (845) 437-5221 for matters involving immediate harm or danger. As per the standard process, Safety & Security may refer students to Student Conduct if they respond to an incident that had college violations.

Adherence to community standards is expected to be taken seriously by all members of the campus. If a student continues to interfere with the living and learning environment of others or their behavior is egregious in causing harm to the community, they might be referred to Student Conduct. A final step will be to forward the case to a core team who will assess the level of risk to self and others, and can result in a student being sent home. Similarly, employees who repeatedly violate safety expectations may have corrective action up to and including termination. The CCT refers those cases to Human Resources and the senior officer of that area for further consideration.

CCT Membership

Wendy Maragh Taylor, Associate Dean of the College for Student Growth and Engagement and Chair of the Community Care Team

Sarah Garijo-Garde, Community Care Program Associate

Student Membership

  • Anne-Marie Abban ’21
  • Tiara Coleman ’22
  • Mila Fox ’23
  • Melissa Hoffmann ’21
  • Victoria Horner ’23
  • Lucy Kuhn ’22
  • Amanda Lion ’21
  • Alexa Lyons ’21
  • Prashit Parikh ’21
  • Olav Peterson Langeland ’21
  • Sarah Berry Pierce ’22
  • Susanna Shull ’23
  • Lisa Smart ’22
  • Lillian (Lilly) Wolsk ’22

Employee Membership

  • Danielle Aquilar, Security Officer
  • Capria Berry, Director of Transitions Program
  • Kevin Collins, Director of ALANA Center
  • Carollynn Costella, Reference Librarian
  • Jaime Del Razo, Assistant Professor of Education and House Fellow
  • Michael Drucker, Director of Residential Education
  • Danushi Fernando, Director of LGBTQ & Gender Resources
  • Anna Belle Gadsden-Jones, Manager of Residential Operations
  • Richard Gary, Lecture in Athletics & Physical Education
  • Heidi Hunsberger, Safety & Security Administrative Lieutenant
  • Lizzie Jáuregui, House Advisor and Assistant Director of Residential Life
  • Yousra Khan, Office Specialist
  • Adam Lowrance, Associate Professor and House Fellow
  • Taneisha Means, Assistant Professor of Political Science and House Fellow
  • Jasmine Mitchell, Campus Activities Program Manager
  • Lori Newman, Assistant Professor of Psychological Science and House Fellow
  • Andrea Pesavento, Director of Health Promotion & Education
  • Michelle Ranson, Director of Student Activities & College Center
  • Samuel Rueda, House Advisor
  • Elliot Schreiber, Associate Professor of German Studies and House Fellow
  • Will Rush, Assistant Director of Campus Activities
  • Michelle Walsh, Director of Athletics & Physical Education
  • Christina Whinnett, House Advisor and Assistant Director of Residential Life
  • Nicole Wong, Director of Sexual Assault & Violence Prevention
  • Rodney Young, Sergeant on Call

Communicating Internally and Externally

Communication plans include the regular updating of the VassarTogether and Vassar COVID-19 websites with updates in policies and practices as well as our monitoring data described in Section B.3. Additionally, we will have regular calls with the local health officials in Dutchess County as we have been doing since the pandemic began. We have a robust Communications Department that will continue through web media, social media, memos, and press releases to keep our campus constituents and surrounding Town, City, and County informed of our work and progress toward limiting the spread COVID-19.