Back to Fall: Campus Conversation

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Last Thursday’s campus conversation: Back to Fall, covered several important issues regarding AUC’s zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy, what the University does to combat sexual harassment and protect those who report cases, and how Fall 2020 will look like for students, faculty and staff. 
 

AUC’s Sexual Harassment Policy

President Francis Ricciardone started off the conversation by addressing the AUC community about the recent events that are circulating in the media and AUC’s steps toward ensuring a zero-tolerance stance toward sexual harassment.  

  • AUC’s commitment to a safe environment includes making clear where to report cases. 
  • In 2018, the President put out a statement saying that higher education institutions, including AUC, are not immune to sexual harassment and launched an investigation to ensure the University is effectively responding to this issue.
  • There will always be more to do.
  • AUC’s plans to better respond to sexual harassment includes three things: 
    • Better communication of policy
    • Training students, faculty and staff on how to respond 
    • Encouraging people to report 

AUC Commenting on the Individual in the Case

  • Because this case is going through the courts of Egypt, AUC will not comment in order to not influence court proceedings. This is the dominant practice in the United States.
  • The responsible thing is for an institution to not comment on a case that is going through the courts in order to protect the individuals involved. 
  • The individual was at AUC until 2018. 
  • We do our best to ensure that our campus is only accessible to those holding a valid AUC ID or those who are invited or are registered visitors. If an individual is expelled from the University, his or her ID loses access immediately. 

Protection when Reporting 

  • Those who witness violations of our policies must feel confident, protected and certain that if they come forward, no one will hear their names. Everyone's names are protected. Even the president will not know the names of anyone who has reported a case. 
  • If you know anyone who is a sexual predator, thief or can cause harm to members of the AUC community and is on campus or has been able to access campus, please report and AUC will act. 
     

How Will Campus Look in Fall 2020? 

Ahmed Tolba '97, '01, associate provost for strategic enrollment management and head of the Fall 2020 Plans Task Force

Blended Model

  • Most classes in Fall 2020 will be online (93% of classes) 
  • 7%t of classes will meet face to face when required. These courses will not be face to face every day. 
  • Classes that will include a face-to-face component include labs, art classes, experiential courses, etc.
  • There will be precautionary measures in the classrooms
  • Registration for Fall 2020 will start early.
  • There will be a schedule that clearly indicates which classes will have a face-to-face component

Low-Density Campus 

  • Timings of courses with a face-to-face component will be spread out to make sure that classrooms and labs are disinfected and that there are the lowest number of students on campus at once.
  • Social distancing will be enforced within classrooms. Courses will be taught in larger spaces.
  • People will not be on campus unless they have a reason to be there.

Decision-Making Process

  • Faculty and students were involved in the decision-making process, which constituted three focus groups with faculty members and three focus groups with students

Who Will Be on the Low-Density Campus? 

Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman, who is also chair of the Committee on Academic Mission

  • To decide which classes will be online and which ones will be face to face, the Fall 2020 Plans Task Force consulted with deans from each of AUC’s schools and faculty.
  • Only students who are registered for classes with a face-to-face component will be allowed to come to campus.  
  • If we can return to face to face or must shift back to fully online during the semester, AUC is prepared to do that

International Students

  • If the international student is registered for a course with a face-to-face component, he or she can return to Cairo and come to campus. 
  • We ask that our faculty members return to Cairo before the semester begins in case we go back to full face to face. 

Faculty Coming to Campus

  • Department chairs should talk to faculty members coming to campus, then they can present different options that will protect these faculty members.
  • We will not put the health of any of our faculty members at risk.

Library Access

  • The library will be open for people who have access to campus under the limits of social distancing and maintaining low density.

Accessing Facilities on Campus and Student Life

Deena Boraie '78, '82, '88, vice president for student life

  • All cocurricular activities will be online. There will be no student meetings and activities on campus.
  • Student leaders who want to have meetings on campus will need to apply through the Office of Student Life to show that it is necessary that they come to campus. 
  • Tennis is the only sport that is open, as it is the only one that has been deemed safe.
  • We are not opening any other athletics facilities for now. 

Dorms

  • Dorms have been open in off-campus housing. Until today, we have about 70 students.
  • In Fall 2020, international students who have a face-to-face class, students who do not have a home in Egypt and those who have a need to be on campus will have access to the dorms. 

Staff Returning to Campus 

Sarah Refaat, senior associate vice president for human resources

  • We cannot have one mechanism to fit all situations.
  • We are continuing remote work for the summer 
  • Starting in the fall, we are ready for all scenarios.
  • If it’s a low-density campus, we are working with area heads to figure it out
     

Operations on Campus 

Shereen Shaker '91, vice president for management and operations

  • You will not be allowed on campus unless you have a course that day. 
  • Transportation will operate at 50% capacity. 
  • Masks will be required while riding AUC transportation and on campus. 
  • Most food outlets will not be open starting September 1. 
  • Classrooms will be disinfected between sessions. 
  • There will be signage around campus to remind people of proper practices to stay safe.
  • The AUC clinic has been open, however, the majority of visits have been over the phone to report any symptoms. 
     

IT Infrastructure

Ayman Abdellatif, vice president for digital transformation

  • AUC is continuously working with Blackboard to always make improvements. 
  • The office is working with the Center for Learning and Teaching to prepare faculty for next semester early on.

Advice for Students Having Bandwidth Problems

  • For those who are able to, having a backup is helpful. 
     

AUC as a Model University

Counselor Ashraf Hatem 

  • AUC has been a leading model in Cairo on navigating COVID-19 and has been working with neighboring universities to provide guidance when needed. 
     

The New Normal

President Francis Ricciardone

  • AUC has extraordinary resilience. 
  • This fall, we will take a step toward defining what the new normal is.
  • We will push as far as science and governmental regulations will permit.