Becoming a Golden Hawk means more than just cheering on our (really good) varsity teams – it means being a student who cares about your community, who works hard in the classroom, and who takes advantage of all the learning opportunities that can happen outside the classroom, too.
As I write to you today, it has been nine weeks since the global pandemic was declared. I know these past few weeks must have been very difficult as you have adjusted to new learning environments and are experiencing an end to your high school years that you weren’t expecting. I’m sure you also have many questions about what your first-year university experience will be like! Much like you, our Wilfrid Laurier University community has shown resiliency, leadership and spirit as we’ve supported each other during this time. These are the qualities that will carry us forward together as we welcome you to our Golden Hawk community in the fall term.
Over the past few weeks, the university has been engaged in collaborative discussions to consider how we will deliver your fall term in a way that meets government and public health guidelines and maintains your safety. Equally important, we considered how to deliver our fall term in a way that upholds the quality of our academic experience and student supports while ensuring that you get to experience the unique sense of community that sets Laurier apart.
To that end, Laurier has made the following decisions for the fall 2020 term.
Most of your courses will be offered online and virtually this fall. We continue to work together to identify aspects of programs and activities we can deliver in person, as aligned with public health requirements. There are many details to be confirmed, and our academic leaders will be working with the faculties to determine all the specifics and to keep you well-informed.
We are working continually to enhance our virtual learning experience and you have my commitment that the courses we deliver this fall will maintain our high standards of academic excellence.
We know that students need our support now more than ever and your needs are our top priority. We will help you to build strong health and wellness habits through supports from our Wellness Education workshops; access virtual and in-person medical and personal care through the Student Wellness Centres; and engage in yearlong mental health promotion activities, events and supports.
The Laurier 101 transition programs are designed to engage and support your needs as our incoming class. Virtual Laurier 101 events and sessions will focus on academic success strategies, connections with classmates, course registration support and information for parents/supporters.
To enhance our registration support, incoming students can participate in a live registration webinar specific to their faculty and have their registration checked by an academic advisor.
You will experience a supportive academic learning environment throughout the year. We will use all avenues of virtual delivery to ensure that you get the high-quality academic support you need to learn strategies for success. Opportunities include appointments, workshops and resources to support select and traditionally challenging courses offered fully online and ongoing virtual Academic Skills (ASk) workshops, in addition to remote delivery of existing supports such as math and writing support, academic advising and accessible learning.
We don’t want your Laurier experience to be diminished by social distancing, so we are actively planning creative experiences and events to introduce you to what it means to feel the Golden Hawk spirit. Some of the things we’re planning include:
A virtual gaming program for students to connect with each other and learn about the many ways to get involved and engaged at Laurier.
Online social and academic connection opportunities including ‘new student chats,’ ‘Ask a Prof’ nights, mock lectures, and ‘Ask a Hawk’ sessions.
Community and Laurier spirit-building initiatives including the ‘It’s Great to Be a Laurier Golden Hawk’ video project.
A bi-weekly newsletter to keep you updated with new and emerging information.
We will work within public health guidelines to provide on-campus residential housing that meets social distancing standards, along with Residence Life and Education programming to support student learning transition, personal growth and success.
We recognize that information about residence is top of mind for students and parents. Details are still being finalized with public health, and we will provide specific information as soon as it is confirmed.
All of our decisions during this time have been guided by Laurier’s core values of academic excellence and thriving community, and have been checked at every step against the following core principles:
Safeguard the health and safety of the university community.
Maintain academic and research excellence.
Enhance our exceptional student experience.
Demonstrate care and commitment to our employees.
Continue to be a trusted partner with local communities as an anchor institution.
Ultimately, we believe these decisions provide academic continuity, certainty for our students, safety for those at higher risk, and access for students who are unable to travel.
Answering Your Questions
We know that you will have many questions. We have questions too as we make decisions in an ever-changing, uncertain environment. What we can promise you is that we will answer your questions to the best of our ability based on the information we have available, and that we will share new information as soon as we have it.
We are planning a webinar in the near future to give you more in-depth information and to answer your questions. Please monitor your email for date and registration information.
We have compiled a list of FAQs and information on our student website. This information will be continually updated as decisions are finalized, and we will keep sharing information on our Laurier social media channels.
September is always a new beginning for a university community. But this September will be unlike any we have ever experienced. Although we may not all be physically together this fall, I know that we will rise to the occasion, and demonstrate the fundamental strengths of our Golden Hawk community.
Thank you for your continued support, and I look forward to more conversations and to welcoming you to our Laurier community,
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD President and Vice-Chancellor