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Students, Student Organizations, and Campus Programming

  • Students should utilize community spaces responsibly and safely. Identity and community gathering spaces will remain open (including house parlors), as well as large gathering spaces (such as the Villard Room). Students are expected to abide by health and safety guidelines and respect the limited space. Students using the space will follow guidelines set by the College (including cleaning and social distancing) and other relevant offices in formal and informal gatherings.
  • Spaces will be used equitably: When physical spaces are limited, it is imperative that everyone has equal access and opportunities to use spaces. This includes spaces that are typically designated for a specific activity or group of students. The College will also work to “flex” spaces not in use to serve as casual and informal gathering spaces. For example, when not in use, the Villard Room might double as a gathering space with socially distant seating.
  • Virtual Student Activities Resource Center (eSARC) - will facilitate and support both virtual and in-person student events (in person when we have clearance.) Students will have access to host and attend virtual gatherings via Zoom. VSA student organizations will be able to acquire a license for individual Zoom webinars or panels through the eSARC event approval process.
  • VSA/Student Activities: Indoor student activities can begin after September 7, 2020, if health conditions permit, and as institutional and governmental guidelines allow. Event sponsors must follow policies and procedures for staffing support, social distancing, PPE, and cleaning measures. Prior to September 7, students are welcome to meet outside following appropriate mask and social distancing protocols. The VSA programming committee in conjunction with Campus Activities has planned a series of virtual and socially distant programs for the first few weeks of the semester, to model successful and re-imagined student engagement and community building.
  • Off-campus vendors and performers will be permitted on campus following specific health and safety protocols. Event sponsors will be required to notify the Campus Activities Office/eSARC of the performer at least 2 weeks prior to the event to allow for proper protocols such as health screenings, contractual needs, on/off-campus travel
    plans, on-campus social distancing logistics, and other safety precautions as needed. This might include purchasing COVID-specific items to support safe programming and COVID-guideline-specific performer contracts and vendor contracts.  
  • Fall Leadership Conference will be a hybrid/virtual model. Student leaders and event sponsors will receive extensive training and have access to continued education and support through the eSARC and the VSA to manage a variety of different engagement opportunities—virtual programs, in-person programs with restricted capacity, campus/community initiatives, and passive programs.   
  • Programming will include a hybrid of appropriate in-person programming as well as online programming to ensure that students/community members who are unable to return to campus can still remain a part of these endeavors.
  • The College will create formal channels for students to interact with the Poughkeepsie community, including but not limited to Poughkeepsie restaurants/businesses and Poughkeepsie schools, remotely and on a limited in-person basis (e.g., community vendors).
  • Students who need to travel away from campus for a family emergency, medical procedure, etc. will have to work with the Office of Student Living and Wellness for approval. Students may be required to self-quarantine and/or be tested upon their return to campus.   
  • Tasty Tuesday: This long-standing Vassar tradition will continue, under two large tents in Noyes Circle and with significant PPE and structural safeguards such as plexiglass food coverings.

Campus Activities

Aaron Sorkin (lower right) talks drama, TV, and movies with students in a class co-taught by Professor of Drama Shona Tucker (top left) and Associate Professor of English Tyrone Simpson (top row, second from right). Photo: Screenshot courtesy of Bryan Smith ’23
  • Fall Families Weekend will be a virtual event on October 2-4.
  • EMS room reservation system: Departments and student organizations will be invited to host/advertise their virtual events on the Campus Calendar using our virtual rooms. They will be able to use EMS (the room reservation system) the same way it is used for requesting a room and we will provide instruction and directions for advertising. The CAO will have access to 100-person webinar capabilities for any department or student organization who needs it.
  • In-person meetings, gatherings, and events will be permitted as aligned with institutional and county guidelines beginning on Monday, September 7.
  • Masks, six feet of social distance, and following the capacity limits for each meeting room will be required for all gatherings. Students will be reminded of these expectations at the time of EMS reservation, along with room adjustments and decreased capacity to meet social distancing guidelines, and required cleaning measures between meetings and events.
  • Only individually pre-packaged food is permitted at any gatherings. Catering may be coordinated later in the semester through the CAO and as guidelines allow.
  • We are not accepting requests for use of facilities by off-campus groups during the Fall Semester. Groups interested in using College facilities for gatherings, conferences, fund-raisers, and summer programs to be scheduled after January 4, 2021 may submit their proposal for consideration. The Campus Activities Office will respond to all proposals within 7-10 days. Current state and national guidelines will be followed at the time of your proposed event.
  • Given its utilization as an auxiliary college store, the Palmer Gallery has canceled all exhibitions this fall. All shows and exhibits will be rescheduled for a later time frame when guests and visitors are invited back to campus.
  • The Tea Program will continue as health and safety guidelines permit.
  • Lost and Found is currently being re-imagined to be a virtual system to eliminate unnecessary in-person contact. Through the online platform Crowdfind, found items will be placed in an online catalog that people can browse to look for lost property.
  • Rockefeller Hall and Sanders Classroom student building managers will monitor capacity in these facilities. Cleaning and disinfecting rooms and equipment will be included in job responsibilities.
  • Tabling: Use the EMS room reservation system to request space for tabling. There can only be one person per table, and you cannot sell or provide any food, snacks, or drinks. The new locations for tabling are all outside, rain or shine; College Center Circle and Students’ Building walkway for a total of six tables per day: four at College Center and two at Students’ Building. There will be no exceptions for additional tables outside and no inside tabling. For the health and safety of the Vassar community, the guidelines for tabling may be adjusted to meet necessary measures including (but not limited to) proper social distancing, personal protective equipment, and sanitation.

College Center​

The College Center will continue to serve as the hub for the campus community by providing essential services, meeting space, and programs within the guidelines and protocols established by the College.

North Atrium:

  • The North Atrium will serve as the primary entrance area to the College Center.
  • The SARC office will be a virtual work space for the duration of the Fall 2020 semester.
  • The Express food service will be closed for the Fall Semester given its limited size.
  • CIS Help Desk will be open during regular business hours. Traffic flows from east to west with floor decals and a queuing system for entering.
  • Post Office will be open during normal business hours. Traffic flows from west to east with stanchions and floor decals.
  • Palmer Gallery will be closed for exhibitions for the Fall Semester and will serve as an auxiliary space for the College store.
  • All seating areas in the College Center have been temporarily removed to limit density.
  • Lost and Found will be re-imagined into a virtual system to eliminate unnecessary in-person contact. Through the online platform Crowdfind, found items will be placed in an online catalog that people can browse for lost property.

South Atrium:

  • The Retreat will be open for food service for students and employees. There will be one-way entrance with check-in, floor decals for social distancing, and a one-way exit at the cash register.
  • Seating areas adjacent to the Retreat area will be adjusted to social distance and will be limited to one chair and table per person.

Campus Dining

The plan for reopening dining locations on Vassar’s campus was developed by utilizing information provided by the CDC, the NYS Department of Health “Interim Guidance for Food Services During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency,” Bon Appetit Management Company, and local authorities.

Returning to dining operations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be as simple as a setting a date and carrying on business as usual. Not only will our operations be altered initially, some changes may be long term. The plans below are especially sensitive to the following concerns:

  • Physical distancing worries
  • Avoiding heavily populated marketplaces and seating areas
  • Avoiding shared condiments (ketchup, hot sauce, milk for coffee)
  • Guests looking for more packaged and prepared foods
  • Avoiding self-serve food

By relying on the guidance of our resources and reviewing daily the changes in the guidelines, we have developed a plan that addresses the reopening of dining on campus.

The first phase of dining will begin in early August with restrictive self-serve (prepackaged items) in the Gordon Commons. All other locations will also reopen in early August. If possible, the College will provide additional information on the second stage of dining options at a later date. 

Service Style

  • Inside seating areas will be closed.
  • There will be seating available outside the Gordon Commons in Noyes Circle.
  • All food will be taken out in disposable containers:
    • Hot food served into containers
    • Cold food prepackaged
    • Bottled beverages available at open food platforms and on Food Truck
    • Prepackaged service ware and individual condiments will be available at food platforms.
  • Diners should be mindful of stanchions and directional floor decals throughout all dining locations to help minimize bi-directional foot traffic. These will direct students on how to enter and exit dining locations.
  • Masks/face coverings will be required at all times in all dining locations.
  • Students will be required to maintain six feet of distance whenever possible and especially when you are in line to pick up your grab and go meal. 
  • Students should also make sure to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer before eating. 
  • Cashier stations will be equipped with appropriate plexiglass guards to protect employees and students.
  • Signage will be provided in all dining locations to ensure that employees and students are maintaining the appropriate six feet of social distancing.
  • Menus of daily food options will be made available online, via the Vassar App, in the vestibule, the lobby, and at food platforms.

Hours of Operation

Gordon Commons

  • Monday–Friday, 7:00am–9:00pm
  • Saturday, 8:00am–9:00pm & Sunday, 9:00am–9:00pm

Street Eats (located in front of Gordon Commons–East Side)

  • Monday–Friday, 7:00am–9:00pm
  • Saturday, 8:00am–9:00pm & Sunday, 9:00am–9:00pm

The Retreat

  • Monday–Friday, 8:30am–4:00pm

The Bridge Café

  • Monday–Friday, 8:30am–3:30pm

The Express will be closed until further notice due to limitations on social distancing within this space and to help control traffic in the College Center atrium. 

Food Platforms

Gordon Commons

  • Grill, Deli/Kettle, Oasis, Home/Root, Brick, Kosher, Global, Coffee & Sweets (prepackaged), and Farmers (prepackaged)
  • Street Eats—serving hot beverages, assorted milks, assorted juices, and assorted carbonated beverages

The Retreat

  • Open-air coolers with cold prepackaged foods, beverages, sides, and whole fruit.

The following are closed: hot food platforms and the salad bar.

Monitoring Density

  • The number of students allowed in the operation(s) will be determined by CDC, state, and local guidelines. This will not include dining staff as per the NYS guidelines.
  • CIS is currently exploring a reservation system, which could be utilized in dining for students to pick up their takeout meal in 15 minute increments.
  • There will be a concierge located in the designated entrance area greeting students and directing them to the different platforms that are opened. Students should direct any questions or needs to the concierge. 
  • Managers will help monitor counts through the reservation system, POS, and being mindful of designated entrances and exits.

Dining Staff

Dining staff and management will be trained in appropriate COVID-19 and college protocols prior to opening. These trainings and planning will include:

  • Pandemic and COVID-19 training (social distancing, service style, proper use of PPE, personal hygiene, handwashing)
  • Food safety during COVID-19
  • Safety and sanitation in the workplace
  • Food allergens & celiac disease
  • Hazard communication

Like other employees at the College, dining staff and management will be required to complete a pre-shift health screening questionnaire, wear appropriate PPE (masks, face coverings, gloves, shields, etc.), and maintain six feet of social distancing whenever possible.


Athletic teams will not participate in intercollegiate competition through December 31, 2020. Coaches and staff are working to develop ways for student-athletes to safely participate in training and development activities this fall, including in-person practices and instruction, strength and conditioning training, student-athlete development programming, and leadership training.

The decision to participate in intercollegiate athletic competitions after January 1st, 2021 will be made at an appropriate time, and will be informed by an evaluation of the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. The College will continue to confer with the NCAA, and the Liberty League regarding subsequent decisions.

Physical Education and Recreation

Physical Education Classes

All physical education classes that require off-campus activities will be cancelled (two sections of bowling). All other courses will be offered with enrollment levels to be reduced as necessary based on physical distancing requirements within available athletic facilities.

Fitness Center

Use of the Fitness Center will be governed by new health and safety protocols. The Fitness Center will be reconfigured to permit social distancing and to limit population density. All activity in the Fitness Center will be pre-scheduled, by appointment only. In order to maintain social distancing and allow appropriate cleaning protocols, drop-in workouts will not be permitted. Locker room access will not be provided to individuals utilizing the Fitness Center.

This plan for the Fitness Center is a framework, pending further guidance from New York State on the operation of gyms. The Athletics Department will provide guidelines for access to the Fitness Center when students return to campus in August.


Use of the pool will be governed by new health and safety protocols. All activity in the pool, including open swim, will be pre-scheduled, by appointment only. In order to maintain social distancing and allow appropriate cleaning protocols, drop-in workouts will not be permitted.  Locker room access will only be provided to individuals after they complete their time in the pool and will be limited to a maximum capacity of three people in each locker room.

The Athletics Department will provide guidelines for access to the Pool when students return to campus in August.

Life Fitness Classes/Intramurals/General Recreation

Use of all other athletic facilities and participation in Life Fitness classes, intramurals, and general recreation will be governed by new health and safety protocols. High contact risk activities will follow the same phase-in protocol as intercollegiate athletics and will not be permitted to begin for at least the first four weeks after the arrival of all students on campus.  Where possible, many Life Fitness classes will be offered online in the fall.

Scheduling Principles

Use of athletic facilities and participation in Life Fitness classes, intramurals, and general recreation are typically shared activities that bring together students, faculty, staff, administrators, emeriti, and family of employees in the same physical location. This sharing of space among different segments of the College community represents increased risk as well as a potential source of anxiety for different subsets of our community. In light of these concerns, schedules/appointments will be adjusted as necessary to provide opportunities for individuals to opt in or opt out of activities that include a cross-section of different campus populations.