Return-to-Campus 2020 Information
Students with questions regarding access and support are encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services for Students at (518) 276-2231.
Q. What recruitment resources are available for Greek Life?
A. We recognize that a successful recruitment effort is critical. While this fall will be different, it can be effective. The Institute has invested in a three-year contract with a nationally recognized fraternity and sorority recruitment expert, Phired-Up, to provide the Rensselaer fraternity and sorority community with the support and guidance it needs to develop a recruitment strategy.
Phired-Up has been helping fraternities and sororities recruit new members and improve their organizations for nearly 20 years by providing educational training, strategic consulting, and technology solutions. We are entering the second year of a three-year contract with Phired-Up and will continue to call upon them to assist with innovative strategies and plans for the community and each chapter. Additionally, we will consult with any group that asks to explore financial solutions such as fundraising through increased giving.
Q. What staff resources are available for Greek Life?
A. We have reassigned an Assistant Dean in Student Living and Learning who has experience with residential life and off-campus living to support the success of our Greek leaders. In addition, John Lawler, Dean for Student Living and Learning, and Travis Apgar, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Students, continue to provide support to student and alumni leaders.
Q. Are fraternities and sororities open for housing this fall?
A. No. Fraternity and sorority housing will be closed during the fall 2020 semester as they are unable to meet housing density and sanitation requirements, and to be consistent with social distancing requirements.
Q. Will the proof of insurance requirement for those opting out of health insurance be waived for students not living on campus?
A. There is no change to the enrollment/waiver process. Students will still be expected to demonstrate health insurance coverage in order to waive the student insurance plan. All students will be charged for the student insurance plan and will need to affirm enrollment or waive out of the plan via the student health portal by the September 1 deadline.
Q. Will COVID-19 testing be offered? What is the fee for testing?
A. COVID-19 testing will be offered at no charge on a regular basis for students who are living on campus and juniors, seniors, and graduate students attending classes and performing research on campus.
Q. Will visitors be allowed on campus?
A. In order to contain the spread of COVID-19 and to help ensure the safety and well-being of our campus community, visitors will not be permitted on campus for the fall 2020 semester.
Q. Is the student insurance plan available for students who study remotely?
A. The student insurance plan offers coverage year-round and provides nationwide/worldwide coverage. The fall semester fee covers an enrollment period of August 1-January 31. The spring semester fee covers an enrollment period of February 1-July 31.
Q. Can students have a vehicle on campus?
A. Sophomores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students can have a vehicle on campus. During the fall 2020 semester, sophomores will not be issued parking permits due to remote learning. If you feel there are special circumstances that would exempt you from this policy, contact the parking office at firstname.lastname@example.org to request paperwork for a waiver.
Q. Are first-year students able to bring a car to campus?
A. First-year students may not bring cars to campus and will not be able to purchase a parking pass. Furthermore, we strongly discourage students from bringing vehicles and parking them on city streets. Many of our streets are metered and have frequent cleaning schedules and snow removal/emergency situations that require owners to move their cars.
Q. Can I buy a parking pass for only one semester?
A. Yes, the fee will be prorated. Email email@example.com.
Q. Can I submit my authorization, P/NC, major change, and other forms online?
A. Yes, the Registrar will accept all forms in electronic format with pertinent signatures via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Students and employees must use their RPI email for all submissions and include your name, RIN, and the name of the form in the subject line for faster processing.
Q. Are there any changes to calendars or the final exam schedule for fall 2020?
A. There are no changes to the deadlines or final exam schedule for fall 2020. All classes after Thanksgiving break and final exams will be held online. For details, visit the academic calendar.
Q. Is the Registrar’s Office open?
A. Yes, the Registrar’s Office is open; however, at this time, we are keeping our physical location closed to the public. Specific inquiries may be sent to the following email addresses:
Q. Will the Rensselaer Union be operated normally?
- Hours will be reduced to accommodate cleaning and building supervision.
- Tables and chairs will be reduced drastically based on federal, state, local, and Institute guidelines.
- Other buildings that operate under the Student Union including JBLDG Music Suites, Academy Hall SAR, Playhouse, ’87 Gym, Student Auto Shop, and the Model Railroad could be closed or the hours will be drastically reduced based on Institute guidelines.
- All facilities being used for activities require staff present; with limited staff hours, some facilities will be closed.
Q. Will clubs and organizations be able to function?
- As per Institute guidelines, there will be no events or large gatherings of more than 10 people.
- Clubs and organizations cannot reserve academic classrooms.
- No contact programs allowed.
- Per Institute guidelines, no travel or travel-related activities.
- Activities will not involve open food sources, including potluck meals, buffets, bake sales, receptions, or meal gatherings unless served by a catering staff or prepackaged.
- No in-person tabling events or fundraisers allowed.
- If a campus department is not permitted to host a particular type of activity, a club cannot host that same activity.
- Only the Rensselaer community is permitted on campus for activities or meetings.
Q. With the cancellation of all intercollegiate sports competition for the fall semester, how will club sports operate?
A. Club sports will not be competing in the fall 2020 semester. We are currently working to see which sports can and cannot function within the given protocols, following the Athletics Department, Institute model, and federal, state, local, and Institute guidelines.
Q. Will coaches and instructors for the Rensselaer Student Union be able to return for the upcoming school year?
A. We are currently identifying which sports/clubs can and cannot function within the given protocols, following the Athletics Department and Institute model. Based on that, a determination will be made by division leadership and Human Resources on which positions will be necessary for operation.
Q. What are the operating hours of the Rensselaer Student Union?
A. In collaboration with the Student Executive Board of the Student Union, the hours of the Rensselaer Union are tentatively scheduled as follows.
8 a.m.-11 p.m.
10 a.m.-6 p.m.
- The priority of the Union will be to provide a clean, safe, and socially distant study space.
- Access to food and services will remain open during building hours.
- There will be no scheduled meetings, tabling, open food activities, or special events.
- There will be modifications to all seating areas and lounges to allow for social distancing.
- Student study tables and spaces will be reserved through the EMS system.
Q. What are the operating hours of the Mueller Center?
A. The hours of the Mueller Center are not yet determined. They will be released when New York State guidelines have been met and the plan of operation has been approved by the Institute and Rensselaer County.
Q. Can I come to the Student Union to purchase some learning materials?
If you are not scheduled to be on campus for the fall semester, you may not visit. The Collegiate Store is currently closed to the public until further notice. Please take advantage of online ordering and shipping and remain away from campus at this time. For students living on campus or those approved to have physical access to campus, the Rensselaer Student Union is currently closed through September 8.
Q. Will I be able to complete my study abroad opportunity this fall for my semester-away designation?
A. After careful consideration and consultation with Institute leadership, all fall study abroad and exchange has been suspended until spring 2021. Email Karen Dvorak, International Program Manager, at email@example.com if you would like your application moved to spring 2021 or if you wish to withdraw your application.
Q. Will I be able to complete my study abroad opportunity that is not affiliated with the Institute?
A. The health and safety of Rensselaer students remains our top priority. As a result, all fall study abroad and exchange has been suspended until spring 2021. This decision is a result of several factors, including the following:
- Current Institute travel moratorium
- Recommendations from the CDC and U.S. Department of State
- Travel restrictions and entry requirements imposed by countries worldwide, including quarantine requirements
- Uncertainty of fall instruction and support services at partner institutions
- Suspension of visa services
- Limitations on student activities abroad, such as in-person meetings and access to local cultural and historic sites
Q. What support can my Class Dean provide if I want to take a leave of absence?
A. If you have personal or family obligations, financial concerns, need time for medical or psychological treatment or have other reasons that necessitate an interruption in study, contact your Class Dean for support. They will connect you with the services needed to help you navigate through your personal situation. Visit their website for details on taking a leave of absence.
Q. Will the Archer Center for Student Leadership Development (ACSLD) continue to provide professional development programs for students taking classes remotely?
A. Yes, the ACSLD is transitioning its professional development programs to virtual platforms, offering programs through a variety of venues.
Q: Will all transferring sophomores take remote courses in the fall?
A: All incoming transfer students for fall 2020 will receive a communication from the Office of Student Transitions with information on their classification and matriculation plans for campus. The Rensselaer application deadline has been extended to July 15.
Q. If a transfer student is not sure what their class year or class status is, whom should they contact?
A. The Office of Student Transitions at (518) 276-6655. All current matriculated students may contact Student Success at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How are transfer students classified?
A: Class status is determined by credits transferred and approved upon entering Rensselaer during the fall or spring admission cycle. This also determines the transfer students’ class year for graduation.
Q. If a transfer student is not sure what their class year or class status is, whom should they contact?
Spring and Summer 2020 Information
Date: April 7, 2020
From: Prabhat Hajela, Provost, and Peter Konwerski, Vice President for Student Life
Even as we approach the final weeks of instruction for the spring semester, planning is in full swing for the summer semester. With an emphasis on protecting the health and safety of our community, and reducing the risk from COVID-19 disease, President Jackson announced that instruction for the summer semester, including Arch classes, will be delivered remotely.
To support students throughout the Arch summer semester, as well as any students taking online courses with us, Rensselaer student and academic services will be fully operational including the Advising and Learning Assistance Center (ALAC), Student Success, and Class Deans.
The Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) will continue to provide comprehensive and individualized services to assist all students with their searches for away semester opportunities, co-ops, internships, and full-time jobs. Students enrolled in the Arch Preparation Course should complete all assignments; the course outcomes are critical for success in securing semester away opportunities. To connect with the Career Counselor for a specific school, students may schedule an appointment on Joblink. Students may also utilize the “Chat with an Advisor” feature on the JobLink main page for on-demand assistance between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. (EST), Monday through Friday, or email the CCPD.
In addition to information on the summer semester, we also want to provide additional information on a question that many of you have raised about adjustments to room and board charges for the spring 2020 semester. The Institute will be providing pro-rata room and board credits, net of Rensselaer financial aid. Credits will be posted in the coming weeks. Additional information on this topic will be available on the COVID-19 website.
We look forward to continuing to support you throughout the rest of the spring term and beyond. Please be well and continue to take the recommended steps to keep yourselves and our community safe and healthy.
Date: March 27, 2020
From: Jonathan D. Wexler, Vice President, Enrollment Management
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting economic downturn, may have an adverse impact on your employment prospects following graduation. As a result, to assist you with securing other opportunities by advancing your education at Rensselaer, we are extending the application deadline for graduating seniors to apply to the Co-Terminal program. The application deadline for graduating seniors is May 1st. Additionally, we have streamlined the application process to make it easier for graduating seniors to apply to the program.
If you wish to be considered for admission to the Co-Terminal program, please complete the online application that can be found here.
Additional instructions are available in the online application. Department-specific GPA requirements are listed here. Please note that we are waiving all other department-specific requirements, such as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and Letters of Recommendation, for this admission cycle only.
The Co-Terminal program allows you to earn a master’s degree in two semesters (three semesters for the MBA), with an extension of your eligible undergraduate Rensselaer funding for those semesters. We strongly recommend that you contact the Office of Financial Aid at email@example.com to discuss the specifics of your financial aid package.
If you have any questions about the application process, please contact Mr. Steven Atkinson, Sr. Student Services Administrator in the Office of Graduate Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you, and we wish you and your family the best during this difficult time.
Jonathan D. Wexler
Vice President, Enrollment Management
Date: March 22, 2020
From: Prabhat Hajela, Provost
In light of the transition to remote instruction necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are implementing a temporary change to our academic and grading policies for the Spring 2020 semester. This decision has been taken after consultation with the academic leadership and subsequent review and recommendation for adoption by the Faculty Senate Curriculum Committee.
With this change, all students will have the option to convert a letter grade in any Spring 2020 course to a Pass/No Credit grade by May 15, 2020. Additionally, a grade of Pass in the Spring 2020 semester can be counted towards the graduation requirements for any program of study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The selections for P/NC for this semester will not count against the P/NC limits stipulated in our academic catalog.
Please contact the Advising Hubs in your Schools should you have additional questions related to these changes.
Date: March 20, 2020
From: Leslie Lawrence, M.D., Executive Director for Health and Wellness
First, I want to thank everyone who has been practicing social distancing (6 feet apart). As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), this practice has helped to dramatically flatten the curve of the virus in China.
However, I was recently informed directly by a student that many of you have been socializing in our residence halls this week. I want to reiterate that the only reason the residence halls remained open until today was to allow students enough time to pack their belongings and make arrangements to go home. It was not intended to be a social gathering place.
This is the type of behavior that should absolutely be avoided at all times due to the following reasons:
- A CDC analysis of U.S. cases from February 12 to March 16 shows 38 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized were younger than 55.
- While the risk of dying was significantly higher in older people, the CDC analysis shows younger people are making up a big portion of hospitalizations. Up to 20% of people hospitalized with coronavirus in the U.S. are young adults between the ages of 20-44. Furthermore, of the 121 patients known to have been admitted to an ICU, 12% were between the ages of 20-44.
- Health experts say there are reasons for people in every age group to be cautious, but not because our understanding of who is most vulnerable to the virus is changing. Just because older people are more likely to develop a severe case or die from the disease does not mean some young people will not.
- Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the world’s leading virologists said, “Don’t get the attitude, well, I’m young, I’m invulnerable." He adds, "You don’t want to put you or your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions. We can’t stop this disease without the young people cooperating. Please cooperate with us.”
At noon today, New York Governor Cuomo signed an executive order mandating that 100% of the non-essential workforce must stay home. This will affect nearly every non-essential service in Troy. Likewise, Mayor DeBlasio in New York City has called for a shelter in place order. Based on what has happened here, and in other countries, I expect this order to be applied similarly in many municipalities across the country.
In closing, I can’t emphasize enough that the COVID-19 virus is serious. It is impacting ALL age groups with both illness and death and we ALL have a responsibility to mitigate the impact on society. Social distancing is a must if we are to “flatten the curve” and ease pressure on health system resources, and ultimately prevent the number of deaths across the country and here in New York.
The Institute is taking COVID-19 (coronavirus) very seriously. As your doctor, I advise you to follow Institute guidance, and where possible, leave campus to go home. Please be safe and continue to adhere to local, state, and federal authorities.
Date: March 20, 2020
From: Travis T. Apgar, Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students; Keith Moo-Young, Vice Provost and Dean for Undergraduate Education
We are reaching out to you during this difficult moment in time to offer reassurance, and to encourage you to find a sense of calm. As you rearrange your plans for the spring semester and adapt to new learning platforms and living environments, be they familiar or new, it will require an adjustment on your part.
Our advice is to find ways to let go of anxiety, understanding that “let go” does not mean to dismiss. It means to learn to let it be, to allow things to remain as they are. You should accept the realities of those things you cannot control, and invest in those things you can. For example, identify healthy activities you enjoy and continue to engage in them. You can also find creative new ways in which you and your friends can safely socialize while observing social distancing protocols.
Come to accept that this semester is going to be unlike any other which you have experienced, and it is going to be just fine. All of us here recognize that this is unparalleled, and are committed to the highest quality of education and instruction. What is occurring across the globe has an impact on you and others within the Rensselaer family. We need you to know that we see that, and we will do what we can to continue to support you.
We urge you to make the most of this semester. Learn for learning's sake. Be sure to pay attention to the lessons which are not a part of the curriculum, the life lessons you are sure to learn as we manage this global crisis as a global society.
It is simply a fact that change is inevitable. It does not make it any less difficult by stating it. This fact, however, is one of the driving forces behind our Institute's goal to imbue each Rensselaer student with an ability to be intellectually agile, to possess a sense of multicultural sophistication, and to operate through a global lens. We strongly urge you to call on those particular skills and viewpoints as we face this challenge together.
With great care and respect for each of you.