Dear graduate and professional students and postdoctoral scholars,
For many of you, this week marks the end of autumn quarter, perhaps your first months as a Stanford student or postdoc. Some of you will continue classes and finals after the Thanksgiving holiday, and many of you are continuing your research, job searches, and preparations for winter quarter. Hopefully this is a time to pause, catch your breath, and prepare for 2021.
We express our heartfelt appreciation for your perseverance and fortitude during this challenging time in your education and training. We also want to alert you to resources that are available over winter break, whether you are on campus or elsewhere.
An Inspiring Gift
First, though, a quick announcement about an alumnus gift for permanent funding for the Black Community Services Center, where many of you may connect with each other, and Ujamaa House, an undergraduate dorm. Our thanks go to all of our colleagues in the Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership, along with those of you who are supporting your communities virtually during the pandemic, as well as inspiring students over many years, as this gift acknowledges.
COVID Policies and Conditions
Last week Provost Drell communicated the university's plans for winter quarter, including hopes to invite two cohorts of undergraduates to live on campus. The university will continue monitoring public health conditions and if changes to plans are required, they will be communicated before Dec. 14. The Provost's message refers to FAQs dedicated to Winter break and Winter quarter, which we ask you to refer to frequently for updates, especially if you plan to travel away from the Bay Area over winter break (see also our Oct. 30 message about travel). Health Alerts and Cardinal Recovery are also updated regularly with information about campus policies and conditions. Those of you living on or coming to campus during winter break should continue to follow the COVID safety and testing guidelines outlined here.
Unfortunately, public health conditions and policies are changing rapidly as the pandemic surges around the US and elsewhere in the world. Locally, Santa Clara County was moved to the purple tier -- the most restrictive level -- and a 10 PM - 5 AM "stay at home" order was imposed for counties at this level, starting tomorrow. The immediate impacts on campus activities are outlined in Russell Furr's Nov. 16 message and further information about the "stay at home" order will be communicated to those living on campus. Given these recent changes, we need to carefully consider whether we can modify guidelines about creating "households" over winter break, and will provide updates here.
Winter Break Resources
The past year has been remarkably exhausting and stressful, and we want to encourage you to take time to rejuvenate yourself over winter break. Our staff have collected opportunities for you to "engage a different part of your brain" while learning more about Stanford, whether you're on or off campus. Please visit Stanford@Home at your leisure, and feel free to make suggestions and share feedback via this survey.
Those of you involved in teaching may be interested in the TEACH Pop-Up Symposium, a series of free workshops to support your online teaching offered Monday, Nov. 30 - Friday Dec. 4. Check out the schedule and register here.
If you live in Stanford's graduate residences, please look for email from your Community Associate (CAs) during the break. A team of CAs will be present to be an ongoing resource for residents, hosting virtual events throughout the break.
And of course, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself and your loved ones. We know many of you will be far away from family and friends over the break, and we hope that wherever you are, you find meaningful ways to connect.
Winter Closure: Dec. 12 - Jan. 3
Most administrative offices will be closed from Dec. 12 - Jan 3 for the university's annual winter closure. We communicated earlier that many research facilities will be open, and Green Library will have limited open hours. Please speak with your faculty advisor or department staff about accessing research facilities during the winter closure. Note that parking restrictions will be enforced during winter closure (with a few holiday exceptions). The courtesy "after hours" permit will allow you to park for free from 4 PM - 6 AM and on weekends, if you do not already have a parking permit.
The dedicated staff in these offices will also be available:
- The Graduate Life Office will maintain its 24 / 7 on-call availability for graduate students, whether you are on or off campus. The GLO Deans can help connect you with other campus resources and be in touch with your department staff and faculty, too. (Call the GLO pager at 650-723-7288. You will reach a Stanford operator. Provide pager ID #25085 and indicate that you need to reach the graduate dean-on-call.)
- Graduate students can contact Vaden Health Services for help with urgent medical needs; emergency information is also on this site.
- Postdoctoral scholars can find mental health resources that are available 24 / 7 on the Office of Postdoctoral Scholars’ Postdoc Benefits page.
- The Housing Front desk staff are available via phone or email for those of you living in Stanford student housing.
- For those with an R&DE Stanford Dining meal plan, the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons will also remain open throughout the break. The Axe and Palm, Munger Market and EVGR Marketplace will also be open most weekdays during the break. See the schedule on the R&DE website. The EVGR Marketplace will offer 24/7 vending with Stanford ID card access.
Appreciation for Collaboration
We've valued hearing from students and postdocs about ways we can continue to support you through the pandemic and more effectively communicate COVID-related policies. We'll continue to collaborate with the GSC, SURPAS, and the COVID Grad Student Advisory Council who have been meeting with us monthly, and welcome your individual comments here. And we are pleased to launch the new VPGE Student / Postdoc Strategic Vision Team, which will begin meeting formally with Stacey in winter.
The Start of a New Year
As we reflect on all that 2020 has brought us, we hope that each of you will find a few positive things you can take forward for yourself into the new year. We personally feel fortunate to be able to take walks around campus and to run The Dish, helping address the inevitable stress and Zoom fatigue that we, like you, are experiencing.
Thanks to the intensive planning efforts of many in our community, we are optimistic about a smooth, safe start to 2021. We appreciate your commitment to following the university’s health and safety policies and considering the health of friends, family, and colleagues you see over the break. Please take good care of yourself and others.
With our best wishes for the winter break and holiday season,
Stacey and Susie
Stacey F. Bent
Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs
Jagdeep and Roshni Singh Professor in the School of Engineering
Vice Provost for Student Affairs