SGA Town Hall: Visions of Graduation and a Safe Return in Fall 2021

Noa Cadet | Staff Writer

Picture Credit: Image of the Hampton University Student Center, where Town Hall is usually held every year. Image can be found on Hampton University’s website here

Hampton University’s Student Government Association (SGA) held its annual town hall meeting in late February. The event served as a forum for students to bring their concerns directly to administration. However this year, things were a little different. 

 To account for the ongoing pandemic, SGA’s town hall was held virtually through Zoom. Students submitted their concerns via an online submission platform and SGA asked the questions to members of the Hampton University administration, including but not limited to; President Dr. William R. Harvey, Dr. Barbara Inman, Dr. Karen Ward and other members of the Hampton University administration. 

Hosted by Austin Sams, SGA’s 75th President, the town hall presented an opportunity for the administration to reveal their plans for Hampton’s future. 

Most notably, Dr. Barbara Inman revealed that in-person instruction will be available beginning during both the upcoming summer 2021 and fall 2021 semesters, Hampton’s first on-campus semesters since the Spring of 2020. Factoring in lingering health concerns with COVID-19, it is required of Hampton students (unless medically contraindicated or in the case of religious exemption) to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus and uploading documentation of such. 

Included in this plan for on-campus living, the administration mentioned that they intend to implement a system towards maintaining fifty percent occupancy in classrooms. In this plan, students of a said classroom will be split into alternating days of in-person instruction and remote instruction within their dorms, creating a cycle in which; there is always one half of class in the classroom and the other half operating remotely. 

In addition to classroom operation changes, Hampton is planning on implementing living changes by reducing density in residence halls. Currently, it has been established that both single and double occupancy rooms will be made available for the Fall 2021 Semester. 

Dr. Michelle Penn-Marshall, Vice President for Research and Associate Provost, also mentioned the procedural updates within the Health Center, with the inclusion of COVID testing that would be able to provide results “within 24 to 48 hours,” thus allowing for swift testing on campus to ensure maximum safety. 

With all the procedural changes that Hampton University is implementing for the return of the student body, the question remains to be asked: what of the Spring 2021 graduates?

As announced by the Hampton administration, the University intends to hold virtual graduation not only for Spring 2021 graduates but Spring 2020 graduates as well, given that the COVID-19 pandemic prevented a proper Spring 2020 graduation from occurring. 

While details regarding the specifics of the virtual ceremony have yet to be revealed, the decision has been met with quite a bit of disappointment from graduating seniors. 

“I feel saddened by the news of the virtual graduation. This is not at all what I imagined the end of my HU experience would be like. However, I am thankful that I’ll be with my family. I know that they will make the experience special even though it is virtual,” says Cassie Herring, a senior english major from Woodbridge, Virginia. 

As more information is released regarding graduation, the student body can only hope that the virtual ceremony manages to commemorate the achievement memorably, to make up for the fact that it is not in person. 

One thing remains clear nonetheless, Hampton University is making the strides to return to a new normal.

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