Arts & Features Writer
UNC Asheville’s senior staff reconvened to provide updates on campus policies and resources. The virtual town hall on April 9 offered the most current information regarding COVID-19’s impact.
“I’m happy to give you an update on where we stand with issues related to employees, students, faculty and staff and the campus at large as we move from the emergency stop-gap measures implemented over the last two to three weeks to a continuity of work, a sort of new normal that all of us are adjusting to,” Chancellor Nancy Cable said.
UNCA students received an email on March 30, announcing the UNC system’s commitment to reimburse students for housing and dining fees. Several students submitted questions concerning the refund process.
“We will be refunding dining and housing on a prorated basis starting on Mar. 16 with some exceptions to individual cases,” Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Bill Haggard said.
Haggard stated students will most likely receive refunds in the next 30 days, although finance and housing staff do not anticipate the availability of refunds before the next two weeks. Refunds will be applied to student accounts and remaining balances will go directly to students.
Meal plan reimbursements are determined by the type of meal plan chosen, according to Haggard.
“There are five different types of residential meal plans and each meal plan has a different portion of swiped meals in the dining hall versus the amount of declining balance,” he said. “For swiped meals in the dining hall, that refund will be prorated based on the number of days you are not here.”
Any remaining declining balance will be refunded.
In addition to refunds, the town hall updated students on the status of commencement. Provost Garikai Campbell said his staff continues exploring options for celebrating commencement as soon as possible and in the best way possible. Ideally, he would prefer an in-person event, but a virtual option for commencement may be considered.
“For any in-person commencement, we would expect to work with the local hotels to find discounted options for family and friends,” Campbell said. “If we have the commencement on Aug. 1, it is important to note that we would expect to be able to provide housing for students, free of charge, in the residence halls.”
Campbel offered several means of support for students experiencing learning difficulties.. He acknowledged any student could struggle with remote learning, especially those with learning disabilities. He suggests these students contact their professors and the Director of Accessibility Services Carolyn Ogburn as soon as possible.
Working in conjunction with faculty and Ogburn, students can work through solutions to meet their particular challenges. For students who feel uncomfortable contacting their professors, Campbell said they could send their questions to email@example.com and the issue will be directed as needed.
This term, summer classes will be delivered online and include a full selection of classes including humanities and liberal arts core requirement courses.
There will be three four-week sessions, one six-week session and one eight-week session. According to Campbell, the cost for distance education amounts to approximately half of the face-to-face rate for in-state students.
“We are looking forward to gathering as an academic community again in the fall and we will go back to in-person instruction as soon as possible,” Cable said. “We cannot dictate this because we do not understand the future spread of the virus and the continuing challenges that this issue provides us.”
According to Cable, the decision to return to in-class instruction will be made in May or early June. She said UNCA expects to provide both forms of learning so that in-person instruction can proceed if possible or remote-learning can be provided if needed.
“I’m really grateful that we’ve been able to do these virtual meetings and town halls and continue these conversations, not just the ones that we’re having with the public but also internally, continuing these strict governance components really brings faith that we’re going to be able to continue to bring out the best solutions and come back in the fall stronger than ever,” Association of Student Governments president Isaiah Green said.