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Paxson hopes to announce spring semester plans by end of October

University preparing ‘as if all students’ will be invited to return in spring

Although University plans for the spring semester are not yet “set in stone,” President Christina Paxson P’19 announced at a faculty meeting Tuesday that she hopes to make an initial decision by late October. Paxson said at the meeting that the University is now preparing “as if all students will be invited to return to campus” in the spring.

Paxson said that “so far, things are going well” for the University's testing program, which has reported less than one positive result per 1,000 tests. But she noted that if the COVID-19 pandemic worsens throughout November, December and January, the October decision about spring semester may have to change. Paxson said that the University will plan to have enough testing resources, quarantine space and classroom space to ensure a safe, on-campus semester for all students, unless the public health crisis worsens. 

The University shifted to Level 2 of its COVID-19 Campus Activity Status Oct. 5, The Herald previously reported. Paxson said that students are to socialize in “pods” of approximately five students, “not 15.” 

“I think we’ve learned from the experiences of the last few days, over the weekend, that frequent testing is not enough,” Paxson said. Over the week of Sept. 27, the University confirmed eight new positive cases of COVID-19, The Herald previously reported

Paxson also announced how the University plans to address the upcoming presidential election. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the University does not participate in political advocacy. “We need to respect the members of our community to engage in political advocacy on their own time, not representing Brown, regardless of their political beliefs,” she said. 

She also stressed that no matter the outcome of the election in November, community members must receive “information about what the outcome means for the country, the nation, the world, and so the Provost’s Office will be reaching out to faculty to ask if (they) would be willing to be involved in teach-ins.” 

Paxson reaffirmed University support for its international students, especially if the results of November’s election prove to be “threatening” to their status as Brown students. 

She also acknowledged that protests may arise after the election, and noted that while the University does not discourage protests, “we need to make sure that (community members) are safe. So we’re thinking a lot about how to manage things if there are civil disturbances that we have to address.” 

In the meeting, Provost Richard Locke P’18 also announced the creation of a new Ad Hoc Committee on Promoting Long-Term Financial Health and Stability. The committee will “explore options for Brown to leverage our assets in technology, teaching and research to generate additional revenue and develop strategies for slowing the growth of our expenses through the adoption of new operational practices,” according to Locke’s presentation. The committee aims to create a “positive operating margin” for the University by Fiscal Year 2024. 



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