Welcome to Rensselaer; please be safe

By Travis Apgar September 4, 2020

To those of you who are here in the Troy area, on or off campus, welcome! To the entire student community, no matter where you are learning from, congratulations on finishing the first week of classes. This is likely to be the most unusual semester any of us will experience.

With all that is happening globally, nationally, and locally, I hope that you are all staying safe and healthy. I write to you today to share important updates, insights, and reminders with the hope that this information will have a strong impact on the decisions and behaviors of those physically present in the Troy area. The members of our Institute cannot be reminded enough of the safety precautions we need to take as a strong community of learners, while we work together toward the common goal of a safe and healthy fall semester.

To date, we have observed a high level of compliance with the initial quarantine. Students are wearing face masks while on campus, participating in regular testing, washing/disinfecting their hands frequently, social distancing, and are not gathering in large groups. Thank you for making these sacrifices to keep yourself and our community safe.

I also want to acknowledge that we have had a few incidents of non-compliance. Those situations have been managed swiftly, removing individuals who did not comply with our safety standards from our residential and academic community so their actions would not pose further risk. As we have made very clear, our Institute has no tolerance for non-compliance. The safety of our community is our first priority, which is why we put strict emergency health and safety measures into place.

As we head into Labor Day weekend, I urge all members of the Rensselaer community to continue to be careful, to observe our safety protocols, and to comply with the initial quarantine period, which ends with the start of in-person classes on Tuesday, September 8. Please continue to do your part to keep yourself and others safe. We cannot let our guard down or we will find our community compromised, putting students, staff, and faculty at risk.

We continue to see other colleges closing as they experience outbreaks from social gatherings. We must avoid that scenario. During a recent conversation with student leaders, I was encouraged to understand that students do not want Institute administrators telling them what they cannot do in their private off-campus apartment. I fully understand and in many ways, respect that position. However, I must make this one point clear: behaviors that have an adverse effect on the health and safety of our classmates, professors, and staff, regardless of where it occurs, will be addressed swiftly. We owe it to those that we share the physical campus space with to adhere to the community expectations and behaviors agreed upon.

In the spirit of transparency, please know that Public Safety will continue to monitor our campus and the off campus neighborhoods where our students live this weekend to enforce the quarantine period and other safety protocols. Students who behave in ways that threaten the health of the community in relation to the pandemic, will be immediately removed from campus, have their campus access revoked, and will continue classes remotely. They will also be referred to the Student Judicial Process for adjudication. Depending on the severity of the action, possible results may include disciplinary suspension or permanent expulsion from Rensselaer.

At Rensselaer, we work to prepare our students to become leaders of industry, leaders of government, and leaders to change the world. To be effective, one must be willing to challenge their peers to do better, behave better, and to positively contribute to the community. The pandemic is an opportunity for students to do just that by encouraging others to abide by our safety protocols. At the time of writing this article, this virus has claimed more than 175,000 lives in America alone; it is deadly. To avoid spreading the virus and risking lives, we must work together to support one another. We all must think about our community first and act in ways that take care of the Rensselaer family.

Please, for the health of those around you, don’t party, don’t gather. Perhaps we can be the school that demonstrates responsible leadership and has a student body that takes the lives of others—and the pursuit of academics—seriously. The time for celebration will come, and we will all rejoice that day.

Please keep in mind that in order to access campus, each student will have to complete all requirements. Please double check immediately that you have completed ALL of the following:

1) Schedule and attend recurring bi-weekly COVID-19 testing

For most students, this will occur twice a week. Click to schedule your appointments.

2) Sign the COVID-19 Testing Consent Form

Review and sign via the Student Health Center portal.

3) Sign the Community Health and Safety Agreement

Review and sign via the Student Health Center portal.

4) Complete the online Health and Safety Training Module

Complete the training online via Percipio.

5) Update your personal contact information in SIS

Update your address and cell phone via the Rensselaer Self-Service Information System.

6) Complete your Daily Health Check and Daily Interactions and Activities Log

Enter both daily via the DIAL app.

[Editor's Note]: Travis Apgar is the Assistant Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.