(COVID-19): Campus Health Updates
9/25/2020 - Daily COVID-19 Graduate Division Update
Dear Graduate Students and Postdocs,
I want to start today’s message by acknowledging my own limitations. I have reached a point that is very rare for me. I have no words of my own to offer right now in light of this week’s events. And so I want to highlight the words of others. Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis posted on Twitter on Wednesday: "If you’re exhausted, drained, tired of it all, outraged, or numb, it’s understandable. Give yourself space and time to breathe and grieve. Rest and restore. Spend time in nourishing spaces with people who get it, who get you.”
As you all no doubt already know, your working and teaching--and associated frustration levels with those--may be impacted by the quality of your internet connection. Before the fall quarter begins:
- Test your network speed using https://speedtest.net or similar
- Verify that your reported speed is what you expect it should be
- If you are a resident of Grad and Family Housing:
- You may need to connect to the wall via ethernet rather than using your WiFi router.
- If you don’t have those capabilities, fill out this form https://forms.gle/KxR41tsg2Kj8oCrB9 and we will work to get you a wifi adapter for your laptop and ethernet cabling.
Lest you think that your wifi, tv, and other devices are not interfering with each other, enjoy this amazing story about an old tv in Wales that took out the entire town’s internet every day.
The Office of Information Technology (OIT) has created a resource page with various options to address internet connectivity concerns. These tips will be especially useful for people not in grad and family housing who may be relying on external providers.
- Improving Broadband Internet: Tips for testing and strengthening your residential service, upgrading your modem, or boosting your Wifi signal
- Smartphone Hotspot Tethering: If broadband improvements are not successful, you may try using your mobile phone as a wifi hotspot
- Mobile WiFi Hotspot: If you need a more reliable or back up Wifi hotspot, you can obtain and use a dedicated mobile hotspot device
- Internet Service Providers and Plan Information: Links to support, plan and COVID-related resources from several internet providers
- Low-Cost Internet Options: Links to cost-effective provider options
If you do not have a suitable internet connection at home or repeatedly encounter connectivity issues that impede your ability to teach effectively:
- General assignment classrooms are available for preparing and delivering remote courses.
- Please review the Use of Teaching Space Plans for important guidance on accessing any campus facility.
- When you are ready to reserve a room, please work with your Schedule of Classes Coordinator to submit the request to the Registrar. If you don’t know who this is, ask your faculty advisor, department chair, or the professor for whom you are TAing.
- Instructors and TAs are also permitted to use campus offices for remote teaching.
- You MUST work with your department to make sure they have approved plans in place for occupancy of your space.
- More details are available in the Use of Teaching Space Plans document, under Unit-controlled spaces section.
International Students and Post-Docs
A new ruling on international student visas was filed in the federal register today. It puts time limits on many visas, requiring renewal, which can be a costly and time consuming process. Here is a good summary put together by NAFSA https://www.nafsa.org/professional-resources/browse-by-interest/proposal-replace-duration-status.
Two key questions I have been getting already:
- If you are admitted for either two or four years and your degree or post-doc position takes longer, what happens? Students and postdocs that are admitted for two or four years with degrees/training programs that are longer than that will be able to apply for the extension. A compelling academic reason to request an extension for most will be the normal time to degree years. In practice, the International Center believes that we will still be able to issue the I-20 for time to degree (as we do now); however,the I-94 (entry record) will reflect the 4 year limit.
- How do I provide the financial proof that is required? For most students and all post-docs, an offer letter from UCI will count as financial proof. We recognize that trying to gather enough personal funds to provide proof of support for their extension applications might be challenging for some students and are looking into what can be done.
For our international students, please know that across the UC, all the government relations and international center staff are working together to see what can be done. These things are never as quick as we might like, but they are committed to supporting you and all the prospective students and post-docs out there who could potentially come here to enrich our communities, add to our scholarship, and grow in their own journeys.
For our students from the US, please be kind to your international friends. They study, work, and live just like the rest of us and then do a second shift navigating our visa regulations.
Graduate and Family Housing
Nearly all residents of grad and family housing are expected to have moved in by the end of today. There are potentially still some spaces that may be offered to waitlist students, but the bulk of the activity for fall is done. Congratulations you made it through move-in!
Many of you have expressed your concerns about the guest policies in housing, and they have definitely been heard by the leadership in student affairs, those focused on COVID, and of course, me too. I had a good meeting with both housing and student affairs yesterday. They are reviewing the policy and are working towards a resolution. I know we all wish I could give you some more detailed news than that today, but it will likely be next week. In the meantime, I want to encourage you that if you have specific concerns about your particular situation, please reach out to your local housing office. You can of course always come and share them with me in office hours or email me too. The local housing offices will best be able to help address any short-term solutions, though, while we work on the broader questions.
Hispanic Heritage Month
I want to end this message on something we can all celebrate together. Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. UCI is a Hispanic Serving Institution, and hopefully by now, you have had a chance to see the message from VIce Chancellor Doug Haynes about how we can be not just Hispanic Serving but Hispanic Thriving. I was thrilled to welcome the first Hispanic member of my executive leadership team, Valerie Amador, to Graduate Division almost three months ago as our new Executive Director of External Relations. She joins the many other fantastic Hispanic and Latinx staff members who are here to serve all of you. This month is a time for us all to pause for a moment and recognize the extraordinary contributions and lasting influence of Hispanic Americans. The UC has created a quiz to test your Latinx and Hispanic knowledge and also has a variety of virtual events you can check out.
Upcoming Office Hours
Keep coming to office hours! I absolutely love to see you and talk with you. In a world in which so many times I feel like I can’t make changes I want, when you come to office hours and I can help you, sometimes immediately, it gives me so much energy. It’s fun to chat and hear about your research too.
For you new students, this is just a drop in time, first come first served. I will pull you into a breakout room if you need to talk privately. No agenda needed, all questions welcome.
https://uci.zoom.us/j/7277477057, all office hours are half an hour
- Monday Sept 28: 12PM - Staff member, I am out
- Tuesday Sept 29: 5PM
- Wednesday Sept 30: 1PM - Staff member, not me
- Thursday Oct 1: 5:30PM
- Friday Oct 2: 4PM
- Monday Oct 5: 4:30PM
- Tuesday Oct 6: 5PM
- Wednesday Oct 7: 1:30PM
- Thursday Oct 8: 1:30PM
- Friday Oct 9: 5PM
The novelist Anne Lamott once wrote, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” This has been the hardest year many of you have ever experienced, and it's been much the same for faculty and staff all over campus. I am proud when I talk to many of you as well as when I talk to the Graduate Division staff to see that stubborn hope hold on. I am going to keep showing up and trying to do the right thing, and I hope you all will too.
On behalf of all of Graduate Division,
Kleist Professor of Informatics
Vice Provost for Graduate Education
Dean of the Graduate Division