(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
4/29/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Graduate Students and Post-Docs,
I want to say a big THANK YOU to those of you sending me uplifting videos, emails, and comments. Seeing your babies laugh or your dogs chase bunnies and reading your own optimistic thoughts for the future has brought me so much joy. There are days when I am really not sure how much longer we can all take this. When I was having one of those moments, I received a message from a PhD student who told me her own “silver linings” for this moment and reminded me that our sacrifices and her baby not getting to know her grandparents right now means a whole lot of other people’s grandparents will get to spend time with their grandchildren. Knowing why we are in pain doesn’t lessen the pain or the sacrifices, but at least for me it helps me cope. So, thank you for sharing. Please keep doing it!
Call for Applications: Inclusive Excellence Ambassador Fellowship
Most of you should have seen the email sent out by myself and Douglas Haynes, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. We have created a summer fellowship opportunity in an effort for students who demonstrate a commitment to inclusive excellence during this difficult time. The Inclusive Excellence Ambassador Fellowship will provide a $5,000 summer stipend to support the research of 50 PhD and MFA students who have shown a commitment to inclusive excellence. Click here to read more about the opportunity and apply by clicking here. This is a very tight turnarond, because we want to get as much stability into your lives as quickly as we possibly can. That means you have just two weeks to apply. However, the application requires very little. Please do apply! Also, please note, this is only one of many efforts, including the existing GDDF, that we are rolling out in short order to shore up summer funding across campus. As a reminder, if you have lost your usual summer funding, please fill out this short form and tell us a little about it. The more we know, the more we can plan well and allocate even more resources to your needs.
We hear the Internet has continued to cause some problems. Most of Irvine was slow mid to late last week, but that larger problem should be fixed… see below for more on what to do if things like that happen again.
In the meantime, we’ve been able to distribute most of the Internet kits already requested. It’s not too late if you still need help though. In particular, to help with the speed issues, we need as many people to TURN OFF wifi as possible. This can be accomplished by sharing with your neighbor or by using wired connections. In some housing units, there are ethernet jacks in every room, in which case you just need an adapter and a cable. In some cases, there is one ethernet jack for the whole apartment, in which case you may also want a “switch” so you don’t have to kick an angry family member or roommate off the internet to use your own. Whatever you need, let us know by clicking here. You can also email Turner Dahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although most of the problems we are seeing are wifi related, sometimes there really is a problem with the big pipe into the building or the even bigger pipe into the campus or city, such as what appears to have happened last week. Please put in a service now ticket: https://uci.service-now.com/ when you are experiencing issues. This allows OIT to track the issue and record the date and time when the issue comes up. This way they can see patterns that might indicate a building with a problem or that the larger internet backbone is having problems.
A core principle of everyone looking at reopening campus for research is to acknowledge and mitigate the challenges experienced by junior researchers, including students and post-docs. Thus, campus is looking to reopen scholarly activities for all of you as soon as it is safe to do so. We are getting closer to a time when there is enough data about the public health crisis, the behaviors we need to maintain to stay safe, and the trajectories we are all on. So, I expect campus to release some guidance in the next few weeks, if not sooner. Please just hold tight a little bit longer. Remember, first step is work with your advisor to adapt your plans and ensure you can make progress. If, for WHATEVER reason, this is not working for you, your grad chair, Associate Dean, and the Graduate Division staff are all here to talk with you as well and help you make plans.
Many of you have asked about housing and/or expressed concerns about your current housing situation. So, we wanted to make sure you know what housing can do for you now, so you can take advantage of any programs they have in place:
- Housing will cancel leases at no penalty for any GFH residents who want to move out during spring quarter. You will get a space back in the fall (assuming you are within your guarantee time, are in good standing, and so on). You are not guaranteed the same exact space you are in now.
- Housing is working with grad and family housing residents on rent deferrals and individualize payment plans. Please reach out to them if this would help you.
As an auxiliary, they are not eligible to receive support from State or campus sources. For that reason, we must maintain all our debt obligations and operating expenses. So, unfortunately, this means they can’t just cancel all rent, much though I honestly think they would like to do so. They do really welcome the opportunity to talk individually with students who have questions. So, please do reach out to them.
Student Visa FAQ
Now is a confusing time, especially for our international students concerning visas. Please see this helpful FAQ list by clicking here.
Improving Equity and Health During COVID-19 on May 15
What are the campus and medical center resources available for collaboration and inroads to care during the current pandemic? The Office of Inclusive Excellence and the LEAD-ABC (Leadership Education to Advance Diversity-African, Black, and Caribbean) program invite all campus and medical center members to join “#ActForInclusion: Improving Equity and Health during COVID-19” on May 15 from 1 to 2 p.m. This event is free and open to all students, faculty and staff at UCI. Participants will gain insights from key leaders about cutting-edge research and education emerging to support community wellness and health professionals’ success in the battle against COVID-19.
Digital accessibility resources
In this unprecedented time, UCI confronts a variety of digital accessibility issues. Regardless of the challenges, we stay committed to accessibility and equity, both in our work environment and in our educational mission. We have fostered a strong partnership between the Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity (OEOD), and the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI). While each office is issuing guidance specific to their area, we wanted to provide an aggregated list of resources and an overview for those who are new to the principles of digital accessibility.
UCI Counseling Center is Open for Virtual Services
The UCI Counseling Center has been working remotely and is open for virtual services. Appointments can be made through the main office number at (949) 824-6457 or through their website: counseling.uci.edu. The center has a wide range of resources available, including weekly mental health videos. It also just launched its first virtual care package. Check it out by clicking here.
Beware of COVID-19 Phishing Emails
Opportunistic cybercriminals are targeting individuals and organizations with COVID-19 related attacks. These attacks come in the form of malicious “phishing” emails, SMS texts, phone apps, and websites. In many cases, their goal is to get you to click on a link, open an attachment, or install an app, that will infect your device with different types of malware (including ransomware) that will steal and/or destroy data. In other cases, the goal is to get you to divulge personal or financial information to the attacker.
COVID-19 related themes that attackers have attempted to exploit include:
- Communications pretending to come from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or other health organizations
- Fake online maps and tracking sites for COVID-19
- Donations to charity or relief organizations
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) scams
- Cancelation of events
- Stimulus checks
- Remote work offers
- Rent and mortgage relief
Common red flags to look out for include:
- Suspicious email address – a majority of phishing emails can be spotted by looking at the sender’s email address. If the sender address looks suspicious, it is recommended to verify if the email is legitimate. For example at UCI, if you ever receive an email with uci.edu before the “@” symbol it may be a scam. Scammers also like to create accounts on free email services like Gmail and Hotmail and set the “From” address to the person they want to impersonate.
- Generic or non-routine message – most of the time attackers don’t have internal information, so their messages are very generic. These can also include unexpected “too good to be true” offers or asking to perform non-routine requests.
- Sense of urgency – attackers like to take advantage of our emotions and often times create a sense of urgency to get us to respond. Particularly now when most of us are working remotely and our usual methods of interaction have changed, the authenticity of our communication is much more vulnerable.
- Misspelling, typos, unfamiliar languages – most phishing emails are not written very well and can contain grammatical errors.
Additional phishing awareness resources are also available on the OIT Security website.
Please forward any suspicious emails that you want checked to OIT Security at email@example.com.
General Zoom Tips
Why Zoom Calls are Exhausting
Exhausted by Zoom calls yet? I know I am. Here’s an interesting article I found examining why Zoom calls are so draining, while outlining some steps we can take to make them less of a burden. Click here to give it a read.
Okay, yeah, we just told you Zoom calls are exhausting, but not these! These are SERIOUSLY the highlight of my day. Today, a student came by with a problem she had already emailed about, and it was such a joy to put a face with that name. Also, she saved me having to email her an update! Yesterday, I got to meet the baby of two of our PhD students. These encounters are so very meaningful and wonderful, and I really appreciate you sharing your precious time with me.
Dean’s Virtual Office Hours: https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057.
- Thursday, April 30th 9 – 9:30 AM
- Friday, May 1st 10 – 10:30 AM
- May the 4th Be With you! 9 – 9:30 AM
- Tuesday May 5th 11:30AM - noon
- Wednesday May 6th 1-1:30 PM
- Thursday May 7th 10-10:30 AM
- Friday May 8th 3:30-4 PM
UCI IN THE NEWS
CNN, April 29, 2020- Dubious coronavirus claims by California doctors condemned by health experts
Columbia Journalism Review, April 29, 2020- There’s no wisdom in crowd photos
University Business, April 29, 2020- Screen time use sparks discussion over how much is too much
Becker’s Health IT, April 29, 2020- Hospital IT spend pivots to mission-critical projects: 7 leaders on the key focus for the next 12 months
World Economic Forum, April 29, 2020- 5 ways universities are helping tackle COVID-19
Sacramento Bee, April 29, 2020- Newsom is cutting huge, secret deals for coronavirus in a hurry. Lawmakers want to know more
South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 29, 2020- University of California, state college systems ‘profiting from this pandemic,’ student lawsuits claims
Salem Statesman Journal, April 29, 2020- Centenarian Oregon couple enjoys rare visit through glass during COVID-19 isolation
Politico, April 29, 2020- New York Playbook
Newsday, April 28, 2020- Death certificate data suggests higher number of COVID deaths than state’s total
San Francisco Chronicle, April 28, 2020- How can California improve confidence in elections? Count the vote faster
Life Hacker, April 28, 2020- Don’t Let Cognitive Biases Cause You to Engage in Risky Public Health Behavior
ABA Journal, April 28, 2020- For some law students, clinic work during COVID-19 feels more real than ever before
Daily Pilot, April 28, 2020- 3 new deaths reported in Orange County due to COVID-19
Politico, April 28, 2020- ‘The Nightmare Scenario’: How Coronavirus Could Make the 2020 Vote a Disaster
Politico, April 28, 2020- If you half-open an economy, is it closed?
The Epoch Times, April 28, 2020- California Students and Educators Share Their Distance Learning Experiences
Ms. Magazine, April 27, 2020- Injecting Bleach Is Not An Elixir For What Ails The United States
Today is Denim Day, a day dedicated to showing outwardly through the symbolism of denim jeans how we all together as a community can address the misperceptions many people have about violence against women, men, and children. While many of us feel “trapped” at home right now, those in violent homes are truly trapped with a tormentor. If that applies to you, please reach out. Come to my office hours and mention today’s In Closing section. You don’t even have to be specific. We will work to help you. Reach out to the CARE Office on campus. Reach out to the national domestic violence hotline. Find an advocate. We are here for you.
And for everyone else, please know we are here for you too. I know, I know, it is so frustrating to read emails from me telling you I am here for you or that anyone else in leadership is when there is still so much fear and uncertainty. I hear you. We really are on your side, even when it doesn’t feel that way, and we are working to address your concerns. We also really want to hear from you and engage in productive dialogue. As always, I welcome you to my office hours, where I can give you up to date information about what we are trying to do to help, and you can give me up to date information about how you are feeling.
I don’t know how you all have been coping. For me, late at night when I am trying to finish all the work I missed all day while homeschooling two little kids and Zooming my eyeballs off, that is when I cope. I try to plow through emails, COVID plans and replans, letters of recommendation, grants, and all the rest, and I listen to Broadway scores. I know Broadway is not for everyone, but for me it is a salve, and so today, I bring you a promise from Les Mis:
“Even the darkest nights will end, and the sun will rise.” - Victor Hugo
We have been through what we would have thought unfathomable months ago. We have more to go, but this will end. The sun will rise. And we in Graduate Division will be there to stand shoulder to shoulder, or shoulder to 6 feet of air to shoulder, with you when it does.
May you each find your way to cope until we can be together in the light.
On behalf of all of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division