Are we coming back in the fall? Will sloughfest be rescheduled? Student questions answered


Olivia Doak

Students voiced many questions about how Augustana will handle distance learning and the pandemic since it began two months ago. While the administration works constantly to send daily email updates answering many of those questions, the Observer reached out to students to see what they still wanted to know.
Here are the latest updates and answers to your questions.

Q: Are we coming back in the fall? When will a decision be made?

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

We know this is a question on so many minds. The answers aren’t clear cut, but they are top of mind.
Augustana College will make informed decisions in a timely manner following guidance provided by health experts. Until the necessary guidance is provided, numerous members of the campus community will continue robust scenario planning in preparation for students returning to campus in the fall. However, establishing a hard deadline for a return decision at this time would be an inadequate response to the ongoing fluidity of this pandemic.  
One thing I can say is that President Bahls is committed to a proper return for our current students and a big welcome for those who will join us for the first time in the fall. In his words, we are planning to “return with gusto.”

Q: Lots of people lost their jobs due to COVID-19… what if people can’t afford to pay tuition? Is Augie doing anything to help? Is Augustana receiving any aid for students from the federal government?

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

The Financial Aid Office is working closely with students and families who have experienced financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic to reach out. These matters are being handled on a case-by-case basis. 
Plus, the college has received CARES Act funding and is using the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education as well as information that helps us understand the greatest area of student need. Augustana will finalize distribution plans for CARES Act funds this month.

Q: Will spring events, like sloughfest and Greek life activities, be rescheduled for the fall?

A: From Ken Brill and Tia Fuhr

It is too early to know exactly what fall will bring.  With that said, the Multicultural Programming Board and Student Life Programming Board are working hard this Spring to ensure a robust program for new and returning students. For example, the SLPB Special Events Committee is working with Welcome Week to create a Welcome Back Concert for all students.   
Homecoming is fairly early next year so I’m confident planning will likely begin at the very  beginning of the year for all student groups.
It is not likely something to the same effect [of sloughfest] will take place [in the fall], as many contracts were canceled and budgets will look much different next year in light of COVID-19. 
Chapters were able to get out of their formal contracts, and chapter members were reimbursed. We have not discussed formals taking place in the fall at this time. New Member activation has been done virtually, however we hope to hold an in person day in the fall as well. 

Q: What should I do if I have borrowed books from the library?

A: From Christine Aden, the library head of circulation

Library books may be returned at any time. Staff are checking the book drops (for students who are in the Quad Cities) and picking up mail on a regular basis.
Right now, libraries throughout the state of Illinois are closed, and all inter-library loan has been shut down. The entire I-Share system has frozen due dates for the moment, so there is no need to worry about getting them back to campus before the original due date. We are hoping to extend due dates until the fall, so that returning students may bring them back to campus, but at the moment, we have not had official word from the consortium on an official due date. For seniors, books may be returned to campus via mail or through the book drops (if they are coming back to campus to move out of apartments/houses). 
As far as non-Augustana and I-Share books (ILL books that have a blue band on the front cover) are concerned, Interlibrary Loan staff have been requesting renewals. We expect that libraries will be understanding about returns given the unusual circumstances everyone has been facing.If a lending library does not allow a specific item(s) to be renewed, students will be notified by email.

Q: What should students do if they have rental textbooks that need to be returned, for both seniors that aren’t coming back and returning students?

A: From the Augustana bookstore

Although the Augustana Bookstore is closed, it is taking online orders. Orders may be delayed but the staff is working to get items shipped ASAP.
Campus will be notified when the store re-opens.
Rental returns have been extended to June 5. Rentals must get to the bookstore on or before June 5.
You can return books by mail, UPS, or FedEx. The renter pays for shipping. Include your name and student email to make sure you are credited. 
Return to:
Augustana College Bookstore/Rental Return
639 38th St.
Rock Island, Ill., 61201
If June 5 won’t work for you, contact the bookstore before June 5 for assistance.
The end-of-semester book buyback has moved online. You can now sell your books at any time to MBS Books. Make sure not to sell any rental books.

Q: When can we expect to know more about fall athletics? What do we know?

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

Similar to resuming in-person classes on campus, we will be utilizing the guidance and recommendations of the NCAA, the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin, and public health experts to inform decisions made for Augustana Athletics. The college will continue to pay close attention to NCAA and CCIW communications and plans to have institutional athletics news shortly after receiving broader Division III and Conference wide information.

Q: Is the Kinesiology building still being constructed? Will it be done on time?

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

Construction is ongoing for The Peter J. Lindberg M.D. Center for Health and Human Performance and the timeline remains on schedule to open on time — in 2021. By the time students return in the fall, they will have the opportunity to see the structure taking shape just west of Evald Hall and across from Denkmann. For now, the construction site has been cleared and dirt is being moved. 

Q: Are on campus jobs still available for the summer?

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

Student employment is still available on campus this summer. However, jobs are limited due to workload and needs being impacted by the pandemic and our desire to continue operating in a safe and healthy way. For further information, you are encouraged to visit Handshake to see the listing of available campus jobs.

Q: Have staff been getting paid this whole time? (such as secretaries, janitorial staff, and CSL staff)

A: From Dean Wes Brooks

The college remains committed to employees. With programs such as COVID leave and re-assignment, most employees have continued with full compensation or utilizing paid time off since the Stay at Home order in Illinois was issued in March. Some employees are on COVID furlough to receive enhanced unemployment compensation while retaining Augustana benefits.  For the summer, some offices with reduced workload will be closed or have limited hours.  However, all services to students will remain open.
Featured graphic by Kevin Donovan.