By Emme Schaefer

Principia College President John Williams began the town hall on Friday, Feb. 12, by offering reassurance to Principians and congratulating the community on a “successful and safe transition” to Yellow Phase. This comes after Williams released a video to students the weekend before Yellow Phase was to begin, warning that if social distancing infractions continued, the phase transition would be delayed. Students responded by more closely following guidelines, and in addition to the promising state of things on campus, the nearby region of Illinois is also progressing, says Williams.

Principia plans on “marching ahead” with the strategic plan, says Williams, as well as building the Wholeness Center and program. With the help of the Principia Board of Trustees, the efforts to grow the Wholeness Center can continue. The trustees want to open up communication between themselves and the Principia community, says Williams, and they hope to respond to requests from both campuses. By opening a dialogue, the trustees can stay engaged in our community activities.

A petition was recently posted to a Facebook page for Principia students calling Principia to take “dramatic actions now to increase enrollment,” for the board to be reconstituted to “more broadly represent the community,” and for Travis Brantingham – who’s departing as head of Principia School at the end of the school year – to be named the new chief executive. The petition, created under the name ‘Friends of Principia,’ linked to a letter from former trustees to the current board, listing these requests. After quickly gathering 256 signatures, the petition was closed and deleted “to give all parties time to consider the matter,” according to a message left by Friends of Principia. It’s unclear if the trustee’s desire to open communication with both campuses, as mentioned in the town hall, was related.

Williams brought up the topic of recent inclement weather – specifically what makes a snowy day a snow day. He says that oftentimes this depends on the weather on the St. Louis campus. He is aware of the confusion that students felt early last week when relatively mild weather one day constituted a snow day, but the same weather the following day did not. He further explained that icy conditions led to closures for safety purposes on the first day. I-64 was closed with several traffic accidents, but the next day roads were clear, ensuring a smooth commute. Ultimately, both campuses are making these decisions as they see fit in an attempt to protect faculty, staff, and those who drive to school. This week, the college had half a week off, with snow days on Monday and Tuesday, and a day of virtual instruction only on Wednesday.

Monitor Night Live will still take place this year, although remotely, capitalizing on virtual media. It will include class visits from reporters like in years prior. This year’s theme centers on The Monitor’s recent project, ‘21 in ’21,’ a series on 21-year-olds featuring how they are responding to impact of the pandemic, and what its effect is on their lives. Since it will take place virtually, this year will be more of a ‘Monitor Week Live,’ with class visits, panels, and a Faith in Action with Monitor Editor Mark Sappenfield all surrounding the main event, to take place on Thursday, Feb. 25, at 7:30 p.m. CDT.

Principia alumna Cheryl Nyasha Johnson from Zimbabwe was featured in Glamour magazine. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Principia and is now a fashion designer with her own brand, NATi NATi.

Dean of Students Maya Dietz and Student Body Vice President Elliott Matthiesen added their remarks about recent and upcoming events. Dietz started off by thanking those who spoke at Winter Convocation, as well as student leaders who organized airport shuttle rides to get students back on campus at the beginning of the semester.

The semi-annual club meeting is this Friday at 1:00 p.m. CDT, Matthiesen reminds students, and later that evening clubs will host club fair. Club advisors and presidents should keep an eye out for an email regarding the event, he says.