Thanksgiving Advice for BU Students: Stick Around, Have a Safe Friendsgiving
Thanksgiving Advice for BU Students: Stick Around, Have a Safe Friendsgiving
Those who go home are asked to finish the semester remotely
For college students across the country, this year’s advice for a stress-free Thanksgiving comes down to two words: stick around. Like many colleges and universities, Boston University is urging students to forgo the holiday tradition of a large family gathering—for the sake of the health and safety of everyone on campus. On-campus housing will be open and Dining Services will be open for business.
Kenneth Elmore (Wheelock’87), associate provost and dean of students, says he plans to work with campus culinary director Christopher Bee to consider options that can help students plan Friendsgiving events. “We are looking for ways to encourage students to come together in their smaller spaces,” he says. “We want to help them have a bit of Friendsgiving in their own households.”
The University’s hope is to make Thanksgiving as warm and welcoming as possible while adhering to health and safety protocols, knowing how hard it will be for some students to miss out on the dining room table at home piled high with turkey, stuffing, and all of their favorite fixings.
“Travel puts people at risk,” says Judy Platt, director of Student Health Services. “And eating Thanksgiving dinner in the traditional way, with many people who are unmasked, puts everyone at additional risk. Those are the two big risks that we are trying to persuade people to avoid by staying on campus this Thanksgiving weekend.”
Platt says the University is asking students who do choose to go home to stay there after the holiday and finish their semester remotely, rather than return to campus before the end of the semester to finish in person. She says some colleges and universities are either ending their fall semester at Thanksgiving or moving all classes to remote learning from that point.
When students who travel to high-risk states return, she points out, they will have to abide by the Massachusetts travel orders, which require 14 days of quarantine or a negative COVID-19 test result that has been administered up to 72 hours prior to arriving in Massachusetts. Those students would also have to adhere to the University’s protocols for anyone traveling from out of state.
BU requires undergraduate students entering from high-risk states to take a series of three tests for COVID-19, over seven to eight days. Graduate students entering from high-risk states will need a series of two negative tests, also over seven to eight days, during the stay-in-place advisory. Because Thanksgiving is November 26, and classes resume Monday, November 30, with the last day of classes before final exams December 10, Platt says students returning from high-risk states will have very little time when they are not advised to stay-in-place. Students who do choose to leave the campus area, whether for a few days or the remainder of the semester, will need to appropriately adjust their Learn from Anywhere status depending on their unique circumstance.
“We know that everyone loves to spend Thanksgiving with their family,” Platt says. “But we—I mean all of us—have to make the health and safety of the BU community our first priority.”
Elmore says students who stay on campus will have the chance to celebrate Thanksgiving. He is currently working with his staff to plan campus events that will respect all University safety protocols for COVID-19.
“In addition to the studying that students will get done,” he says, “those who stay on campus will have an opportunity to take part in an event with traditional fare that is now in the planning stages. I also know that many students are planning to do a Friendsgiving, and we will try to facilitate those events as much as possible.”
To be clear:
BU administrators have asked literally every single person at BU to keep the BU community first and foremost in their minds since the pandemic began. The administration’s proposed Thanksgiving protocols are not outrageous, considering the continuation of the pandemic in the US, but this article/Dean Elmore and President Brown’s framing of these protocols is incredibly insensitive to the situation of the vast majority of BU community members who will need to follow them.
Undergraduate students came across the country for a full-priced, full-campus experience that could not possibly have come to fruition under the present circumstances. For many of these students, this is the first time they have lived away from their families, and forging meaningful friendships with other students has been made even more difficult by social distancing guidelines, masking, and an acute anxiety about health and safety standards. The suggestion that students stay on campus to celebrate Friendsgivings ignores both of these facts, and demonstrates the administrative ignorance of and insensitivity to what it has meant for so many people to make BU campus health and safety their first priority this year.
The administration and students have done well to protect our campus this semester, and I am aware that this policy is a continuance of those good efforts. But, I suppose the only point I want to make in this comment is that it would be nice if administrators attended to the way in which the campus community they talk so much about is not just a place in Boston, but a really transient community of people… people who do not live here all the time, perhaps have not made friends with whom to celebrate here, and perhaps cannot take synchronous classes remotely due to time changes in their hometowns, and are now working through yet another very expensive decision between meeting their personal need/desire to return to a familiar environment and continue taking classes, or stick it out on campus for until exams end in December.
Students and faculty have been told that every administrative protocol has been designed with the well-being of students and faculty in mind; but how can that be true when it is students, staff, and faculty who are routinely asked to make (and finance) the decisions that require them to bracket their own well-being in order to make the protocols work?
Let’s be clear: This has been the way of the university’s LfA modality since the beginning, and it really is nothing short of the illusion of choice evaporating in the face of reality. This Thanksgiving protocol is the best, and perhaps the only one the university can offer this semester, but it would be nice if we lost the empty rhetoric of choice, comfort, and wellness that comes along with it. Campus has been and will continue to be well served and protected this semester, but it has been the community of students, staff, and faculty that have made it that way. BU admins care very deeply about BU, but not the community the institution serves and who have kept it safe.
Just to clarify, none of this is an official statement from the school correct? Because I talked with housing and healthway staff and recently and they had uh… conflicting points with this article. Additionally, this article only really addresses students going home to high-risk states, nothing about the low-risk states. What is the course of action for those? Are they fine to go to since students wouldn’t need to do the 3 negatives as well? And again my understanding is as much as the school is suggesting courses of action they have yet to explicitly state you cannot come back so my understanding is we can still come back regardless.
Very thoughtful gesture.
Please don’t forget the vegetarians on campus!