By L. Kincaid Holmes

There have been three investigations into student use of drugs or alcohol since break on the college campus, and two students have been asked to leave for breaking the Illinois stay-at-home order.

 The issue of student behavior was first raised when an anonymous question was posed about whether the COVID-19 vigilance has enabled campus security overreach by searching student vehicles; the series of questions that followed drew answers from Maya Dietz, dean of students and Interim President John Williams.

Williams said he was unaware of the vehicle searches and would look into it. Dietz was asked how many investigations there have been of student substance use and she said there had been three. The administrators said they’ve held discussions with the 50-plus students still living on campus about the seriousness of the rules—that nothing less than Principia’s ability to operate as an institution hinges on obeying laws.

The weekly virtual student town halls have become a platform of administration transparency, with college leadership sitting for audience Q&A on virtually any topic.

Hosting this weekly town hall—the fourth since the campus was closed because of COVID-19—were Student Government President Sophia Hathaway and Vice President Matthew McLeod-Warrick, accompanied by Dietz, Williams, and Edith List, interim assistant dean of academics.

McLeod-Warrick opened this week’s meeting with Hymn 565, verse 1, followed by announcements.

Student government announcements:

  • Tomorrow morning in a Watercooler poll at 7:30 a.m., Senate elections commence. The poll will stay open for 24 hours.
  • Teacher of the Year voting will be at the same time
  • There will be a survey of seniors next week for nominating baccalaureate and class marshal. Voting will be held the following week.

Dietz announcements:

  • Reiterated the contents of the student resources page which includes info on the new grading system, contact info, student and employee town halls, and a spiritually and mentally fit page – updated weekly.
  • A poll was sent to seniors today regarding interests in a virtual graduation held on May 16 in addition to an in-person graduation in October. The poll is open for 24 hours.

Following announcements, questions varied from guidelines for packing up belongings to the search for a new college president.

There were a few questions regarding a concern for the strict tone set by security. One anonymous questioner said their trip off campus to Taco Bell was delayed by two Principia security guards reading them a list of deaths due to COVID-19, a move the questioner perceived as a scare tactic.

 Student questions about professors’ updates of classes to accommodate the new distance learning varied greatly—one questioner was concerned about the lowering of expectations and standards in classes and another student requested faculty be spoken to about over-assigning work since students have been home.

On the topic of packing up, several questions were raised. Regarding financial support for those wanting to return to pack their belongings, Williams said that the administration has not talked about that yet.

“That’s an interesting one to explore,” continued Williams.

In line with packing up, a hypothetical was introduced by one questioner: “If a student who comes to get their stuff finds out they’re positive for COVID[-19], will campus be quarantined?”  

“I’m not sure of the answer. What happens is we do what’s called contact tracing,” explained Williams. “We have already done that several times and, gratefully, it’s not turned out to be anything.”

A recording of this week’s town hall can be found on the student resources page on PrinWeb, under “town hall meetings.”