(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
4/12/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Graduate Students and Post-Docs,
Happy Sunday! Welcome to the start of another week. Each week, some things get easier, and some things get harder. Mostly though, each week, we make it through another week. That is to be congratulated.
This was also a tough weekend for some of our students. As many of you may already know, Anak Krakatau (child of Krakatau) erupted Friday evening in Indonesia. For our many students who have family in Indonesia (and in some cases, field sites, friends, and other connections), it was a tense 24 hours. Thankfully, there do not seem to be casualties despite a truly epic eruption: watch the video here. A series of fatal tornadoes also ripped through Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi today. When you are so far from home, these events can feel even more devastating. Please know that no matter where you are now, for those of you who have left campus, and no matter where your friends and family are, for those of you who are still here, your UCI family is with you.
For some good news, according to healthdata, we in California will hit peak resource use tomorrow, less than a month after the statewide “Stay at Home” order was issued. Note, this is a model, which means it may or may not actually be true and depends on us keeping on doing what we are doing. Estimates indicate that we cannot ease up on physical distancing and “flattening the curve” until we are a good two to four weeks past “peak resource.” What is important here, though, is that as devastating as our losses have already been, flattening the curve is working. Thank you for all you have done to support each other, to support your friends and family, and to support all of us by doing this hard work.
A quick note on multiculturalism and religious inclusion here on campus: I was asked this weekend about whether UCI was endorsing Christianity after I mentioned Good Friday in my most recent message to all of you. First, and foremost, to be very clear, neither I nor UCI is in any way endorsing any particular religious view nor even religion broadly. Inclusion of a wide variety of beliefs, including many religions and those who observe no religion at all, is core to UCI’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as my own commitment to the same. I try to recognize the variety of experiences you all are having, even when those don’t match my own, hence the mention of both Passover (a Jewish holiday) and Easter (a Christian holiday) in my messages this past week following on mentions of secular holidays, such as Cesar Chavez day (celebrated in California) and MLK day (celebrated across the US), all of which represent different things for different people. These particular secular and religious holidays are traditionally times of reflection, service, and sacrifice for those who observe them. We are just under two weeks from Ramadan, another similar period for some of our community. I hope that we can take this time to learn more about one another, whether you are observant of any organized religion or not.
How did the masks go?
A few of you asked for an update….. So… here it is. I spent a good bit of time on Saturday sewing and only produced two usable masks so far. This is pretty common for me when I first take on a new project, attempting to adapt patterns, fit things to my family (and the now many other folks who I have volunteered to sew masks for!), and so on. Many of you wrote me back and said you were doing the same. I’d love to know how they went. Or feel free to tag in Grad Division in any social media posts, and we will amplify your service, your beautiful creations, or probably in some cases your hilarious fails. Here is what I learned from own adventure:
- Satin lining feels very nice (I happened to have some leftover satin from a children’s theatre performance I did costumes for) but WOW it gets hot inside a satin lined face mask.
- The pocket is a pain but I think it's worth the work to get an extra filter in there.
- The pleats are a pain (I broke multiple needles before I sorted out how to get this done right through so many layers) but definitely worth sewing. Otherwise they don’t fit.
- A little bit of wire (florist wire, cabling from that weird electronics project you never did, jewelry making wire, a pipe cleaner, anything in the 16-30 gauge range really helps with nose fit). I am now paused on sewing until I get more wire.
- It felt incredibly good and therapeutic to make a thing with my hands that might actually help during a time when I often feel unable to help as much as I want.
- There is a vast difference between what an 8yo can do to help with a project like this and a 6yo, or at least between my 8yo and my 6yo.
I am really looking forward to seeing how we all learn to express some creativity through homemade masks. There are no shortage of both sew and no-sew tutorials online.
REMINDERS About Support Funding
We’ve had a good response rate to the emergency supports we have put in place. There is no strict deadline for these, and we will take them as we get them with an attempt to recognize that for some of you an emergency will not arise until next month or even this summer. Here are the links again to fill out the information we need. Please be short with your explanations. We do not need detailed responses and don’t want to create more work for you, just a quick description. If we need more information, we will reach out.
- For those of you who find yourself in financial distress, please fill out theRequest for Hardship/Emergency Support Formfor small grants to support emergency needs.
- Internet Access Assistance
- On-campus housingPlease use the following request form to determine your needs and request an ethernet adapter and/or longer cable: Ethernet Adapter Request Form.
- UCI has a limited number of Internet Hotspots that will be loaned out to our graduate students free of charge for those living off-campus. To determine if you qualify for the hotspot, please complete the following form: Off-Campus Hotspot Request Form
- Travel Assistance: AGS has emergency travel funding available: https://www.ags.uci.edu/services/travel/
Please note, while we will do our best to accomodate all of these requests, availability isn't necessarily guaranteed, and so as always please reserve support for those who need them.
These drop-in sessions will be held several times throughout the quarter as a means for students to express their frustrations or ask questions in a safe environment, gain advice from the graduate community about establishing routine and remaining motivated, while sharing their wellness and school-from-home tips with their peers. The full schedule is below. Just click the Zoom link and you’re in!
- Thursday, April 16: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
- Thursday, May 7: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
- Thursday, May 28: 3:30pm – 4:30pm
- Monday, April 13: 2:30pm – 3pm
- Tuesday, April 14: Noon – 12:30pm
- Wednesday, April 15: 11:30am – Noon
- Thursday, April 16: 9am – 9:30am
- Friday, April 17: 3:00pm – 3:30pm
We had the biggest turnout yet last Friday afternoon. One of the things that I realized during that session in a discussion with a student parent is that you can 100% bring your kids with you to the virtual office hours if you want/need. Synchronous events are hard when you are isolating at home. We make it work however we can, and I promise to only change my Zoom background to a kid’s cartoon occasionally.
I had two different calls this weekend with close friends who are really suffering with anxiety and stress during this time. Both friends mentioned repeatedly that they “shouldn’t complain,” because they have it relatively good. They each talked about people in worse physical, economic, and social situations than they are and then talked about the guilt they feel for even feeling bad. I said to them what I will say to all of you now, “Someone else being in more pain than you doesn’t make your pain any less.” We can be grateful for what we have and still afraid, anxious, and stressed. There is nothing wrong with feeling how you are feeling, whatever that feeling is.
Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist who wrote Coming of Age in Samoa amongst other well-known works, famously quipped “Always remember that you are unique, just like everyone else.” Your experiences right now are just as unique. Post-graduate education is a time in which it can be easy to compare yourself to others, at UCI or elsewhere. I always try to encourage collaboration and generosity over competition during your post-graduate years, but never has this approach been more important. No one else is living your life. Whether you are speeding up, slowing down, stopped completely, or some mix of all of these experiences in your work right now, you are the only you there is. There is no playbook, no set of best practices, no instructions--not even the confusing ones you get from IKEA--for what is happening. Do the best you can. It’s all any of us can do.
Hoping you had a chance to recharge at least a bit this weekend. Sending you all my hopes for a great week. Special good wishes go to the Law students who are in their last week of instruction for the year.
On behalf of all of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division