Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Semester End in Light of the Camp Fire

November 30, 2018

Debra S. Larson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Milton Lang, Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer

Colleagues,

We hope you and your families are well during this challenging time and that your return to classes has been as smooth of a transition as can be expected. We know campus and the greater community are still struggling with the Camp Fire, and know that will be true for the days, weeks, and even months to come. Thank you for all you are doing to support one another and our students in this difficult time. It is challenging to navigate a return to normalcy, when people react, process, and cope with tragedy in so many ways.

We respectfully ask that you be mindful of this spectrum as you finish out the semester. As psychology professor and licensed therapist Kyle Horst said in his guide to help faculty navigate moving forward (PDF), “Although no one expects faculty to be the frontline providers for treating deeply felt emotional distress, as professors, we are given the privilege of influence over our students.” We need to demonstrate care and compassion for our students while also supporting their success in class. Be aware that conversations or visuals related to the fire may be very distressing to some students, inhibiting their ability to learn and potentially causing further discomfort. Trauma robs people of control, so providing choices to our campus community is one thing we can do to support everyone. If you do want to process the fire in class, it is important to give students the option to leave if they do not feel comfortable listening or participating.

We know that you want to make the most of the remaining days of the semester, and with so little time left, that will be challenging. However tempting it might be, please do not ask students to make up work and course materials for the time the campus was closed. Students should not be expected to complete extra work during the remainder of the semester. As part of this effort, I would like to remind you that faculty are not to increase student workload during the remainder of the semester to make up the assignments that were due during the emergency campus closure. I would also like to remind you of an important University policy (EM 17-004) concerning final exams.

As stated in EM 17-004, “Faculty are required to give final examinations at the time and place scheduled, normally specified in the schedule of courses.” We recognize there may occasionally be exceptions to this policy, especially this semester. “Requests for exceptions to this policy must be in writing and approved in advance by the department chair and by the college dean.”

Also as stated in EM 17-004, regardless of whether a class has a final exam or not, “all classes are required to meet for one two-hour period during finals week for instruction or examination.”

It is inevitable that you will not have as much in-person time with your classes this semester, and something or multiple things will need to be cut from your classes and syllabi. In deciding what to abridge, please let your course learning outcomes guide this decision. Keeping our students and their success in mind, determine what is the most essential learning in the course that has not yet occurred and prioritize this material in the remaining class sessions. Should you have any questions about this, please contact your department chair or dean.

Please pay attention to how students react and conduct themselves in class. Trauma appears in many ways, as Horst outlines (PDF). If you have concerns about a student because of their behavior or missing class, reach out to them you feel comfortable doing so. The Campus Assessment Response and Education (CARE) Team is also happy to check in on students and their well-being, and you can make referrals to care@cschico.edu.

The CARE Team will also continue to stage in different locations around campus. To know where they are each day, you can contact Megan Odom at modom@csuchico.edu.

Lastly, 24/7 psychological counseling services are still available to students, faculty, and staff. Students can call the Counseling and Wellness Center 24/7 at 530-898-6345. Faculty and staff can also utilize 24/7 counseling through the Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-367-7474 or mylifematters.com  (password: csuchico).