Campus Community / People of SU

Keeping Students at the Heart of Health & Safety Efforts

Written by Kristen Kirst and Allison Nitch

August 31, 2021

Photo on right features four students sitting at an outdoor table on campus while wearing face coverings.

Faculty and staff treat students’ overall well-being as a top priority during fall return to campus.

As students prepare to return to in-person learning and campus life, the university persists in monitoring the constantly evolving situation with COVID-19 and the Delta variant and continues to prioritize the health, safety and well-being of the entire campus community.

While masks and vaccine cards have become a new normal, what endures at Seattle University is the commitment to cura personalis—“care for the whole person”— which remains grounded in the latest public health guidance.

Faculty and staff look forward to welcoming students back to campus. Departments are taking mindful steps toward creating a sense of normalcy with a return to events and programming largely in-person, providing options for virtual participation when possible, encouraging safe student engagement and community building, supportive career outreach and more.

Living and Learning

“The health and wellness of our students is our top priority and concern,” says Dale Watanabe, director of the International Student Center (ISC).

Returning to in-person services this fall, the ISC team understands the unique needs of Seattle U’s international student population and are especially aware of the lack of vaccine availability in some areas overseas, along with the continuing threat of the COVID-19 variants.

“Information has gone out to every international student with steps to take in the U.S. to become vaccinated,” say Watanabe. “We are prepared to work with them on meeting the university [vaccine] requirement.”

Other ways ISC is adapting to and caring for Seattle U’s international student population:

  • ISC has been approved to offer hybrid (online and in-person instruction) under the ICE/SEVP (Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Student and Exchange Visitor Program) exception to policy and can work with individual students who wish to remain in remote learning if possible (based on course availability).

  • Because there are many current exceptions to policy, the ISC is available to assist F-1 students in avoiding any adverse impacts to their legal visa status.

  • Even with the return to in-person, the ISC will continue to offer virtual office hours and meetings for safety and convenience.

Career Engagement

“Employers understand…last year was an anomaly and they are open to students’ stories of how they coped,” says Carol Lwali, associate director of external relations at the Career Engagement Office.

Anything new students learned—whether a skill, side hustle or hobby—“is welcomed by employers. It doesn’t have to directly relate to their major or job they are seeking. It’s about adaptability and the ability to handle uncertainty and change.”

Look for the launch of “Projects” on Redhawk Landing, an online platform to foster mentor and networking connections with Redhawk alumni  and where short-term learning experiences (less than six weeks in duration) will be posted by alumni for students to discover, explore, build, expand their network and learn more about an organization or industry.

Clubs and Events

The Center for Student Involvement will be open to answer any questions from incoming students about clubs, organizations and more.

“Because of the need for additional classroom space [to meet SU’s COVID-19 safety protocols], event space on campus will be limited,” says Bernie Liang, director of the Center for Student Involvement. “We will be doing our best to work with student groups to provide all of the great meetings, socials and events—either safely in-person, hybrid or virtually.”

This also applies to campus traditions. “…Many of the experiences that our students and campus community members have come to expect will be occurring this year in either a hybrid or in-person format,” notes De’Andre Jones, assistant director of Events & Traditions. “In an effort to ensure the safety of our students and community, some things may look different.”

  •  In addition to the many offerings available on the center’s website, ConnectSU will now include weekly news emails, a rebranded Hub Desk, helpful apps and social media sites. Students are encouraged to check ConnectSU for all event updates.

  • The Graduate Student Council (GSC) and Student Government of Seattle U (SGSU) continue their work in advocating for student voices. Both organizations encourage students to share any concerns, which they’ll present to the university.

Activities and Well-Being

Wellness and Health Promotion’s Health and Wellness Crew (HAWC), the peer health education team, will return to in-person services in the Student Center.

“Much of our efforts this year will be focused on mental health and self-care as we all try to heal from collective trauma,” says Chris Fiorello, director of Health and Wellness Promotion.

  • Wellness and Health Promotion and HAWC will continue to provide information about physical health, substance use and healthy relationships. This fall, new mental health support programs will focus on teaching students how to be supportive of one another’s mental well-being and destigmatize mental health.

  • Reopening on Sept. 13, University Recreation (UREC) will follow state and SU campus guidelines and will require the use of face masks indoors at all times for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status. Staff will encourage 6-foot distancing. Detailed cleaning will be conducted throughout the day, followed by a deep clean every night. Visit UREC for more details.

  • Men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball seasons are underway. Masks are required for all indoor Athletics events per campus and state policy and encouraged when attending events outdoors. Masks are required for unvaccinated persons both indoors and outdoors.

  • Campus Ministry’s mass offerings will expand in late September. Masks are required at all times while inside the Chapel of St. Ignatius and all other chapel spaces on campus. Full details are available on the Campus Liturgies page. All are welcome, regardless of university-affiliation.    

Parent and Family Engagement

“We know students are excited to return to in-person and we are, too,” says Laurie Prince, director of Parent and Family Engagement (PFE). “That being said, we remind everyone that we will need to be flexible as things are changing rapidly. We are planning for a number of scenarios depending on what the health and safety guidelines will require.”

  • PFE will continue its use of a virtual platform to connect with communities, including smaller regional conversations throughout the year.

Holiday Breaks

The last day of in-person classes for fall quarter is Tuesday, Nov. 23, to reduce holiday travel over Thanksgiving and Christmas. The remainder of fall quarter and finals will be online unless indicated by the instructor.

Residence Life

For students living on campus, there are many available programs and services designed to support the physical, emotional, spiritual and academic needs of each and every resident. Learn more about how the Housing and Residence Life team is caring for our community.

Visit the Student Support Center, a one-stop resource for all questions related to the student experience at Seattle U.

For the latest information, policies and requirements around COVID-19, visit Seattle U’s COVID-19 Response site.