FSU's Focus on Equity During COVID-19

Updated April 1st, 10am. Please note this is a living page which will be updated as information and guidance change.

As we problem solve and find creative ways to achieve our mission during this trying time, we remain committed to maintaining a focus on equity and access for our students, faculty, staff, and larger community. 

We urge everyone to think about how we can make this adjustment more equitable for our internal and external community who are experiencing this differently. We are thinking about our low income students, food and housing insecure community members, students with disabilities, and many more. If you hold privilege in these areas, we encourage you to ask yourself: “What can I do to create a more equitable experience for those who don’t have the same advantages as me?”

Folks all over campus are working hard to answer this question. We still have work to do, but here are some solutions we are working on:

  • Quick Tips: DICE and CELTSS have created this document: “Centering Equity in the Virtual Campus Environment: Quick Tips & Considerations.”
  • Housing and food security: The Rams Resource Center food and amenities pantry will be open by appointment and while classes are occurring remotely. 211 HelpSteps (State of Massachusetts/United Way) provides information based on location for a number of services including but not limited to food, housing, mental health, medical care and insurance, transportation, and utilities. For those staying in other locations, check out your local resources and communities to see if they are rallying around food security initiatives. For additional support for housing or food security, please contact Kay Kastner, Coordinator of Student Support Initiatives.
  • Mental Health Support: The Counseling Center is available to all students for tele-therapy appointments. Students who are in need of additional social or emotional support can reach out and take advantage of this resource. For faculty and staff, if you are feeling stress or anxiety about these events and need someone to talk to, FSU offers employees access to confidential support and counseling through the Employee Assistance Programs. More info can be found on the COVID-19: HR Information webpage.
  • Prorated adjustments to student accounts: On March 20th, students were notified via email that the University will begin issuing prorated adjustments or credits to students for this semester’s housing, meal plan, and parking expenses. These adjustments will occur by mid-April. More info on Student Accounts here.
  • Work study pay: The U.S. Department of Education approved the continued payment of students employed through the Federal Work Study program. Supervisors will work with students to ensure they continue to get paid for the rest of the semester. For more information contact Heather McCarthy, Federal Work Study Coordinator.
  • Emergency funding: The University has limited funding in two Emergency Funds (one under the Alumni Association) to provide critical financial support for students in economic distress. Students can learn more about emergency funding here.
  • Accessible and inclusive teaching: We’ve compiled faculty resources on this Libguide: Maintaining Equity and Inclusion in Remote Learning and encourage folks to review the materials posted. There is also a dedicated thread in the Faculty Blackboard group.
  • E-Books: Currently the Campus Bookstore (Follett) is offering the following: free online shipping, free access to Lumen Learning OER Courseware, free shipping on rental returns & deadline extensions. The Bookstore is also providing free access to eBooks through RedShelf, which covers about 80 percent of their titles. Please check the campus bookstore website for updates and more information current information.
  • Remote learning and working: Plans have been executed to address the IT needs of community members who will be learning and working remotely.
    • Wifi access: See email entitled "Advisory: Internet Service and Hotspot Options for Students" from Information Technology Services on March 31st. There are several options currently available to access the Internet from a computer for free (sometimes for a limited time) and others that cost money.  They include the following kinds of Internet access:
      • Directly from a connection to a home network
      • Directly from a connection made available at designated public locations
      • From a connection to a cellphone phone (or other mobile device) with a service plan that enables a computer to access the Internet through the phone (often referred to as a “mobile hotspot”)

      For any student that currently does not have access to a high-speed Internet connection, there are two “no-cost” options potentially available to them:

      • Free Home Internet Service
      • Free Public Wi-Fi Hotspots

      In order to assist with continued learning in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Internet providers are offering free services to low-income families and households with students.  Many of these providers are also waiving data overage charges.  Below is a list of Internet providers and links to their websites where information about their current offerings can be found**:

      Click here for Additional Programs and Services

      Free Public Wi-Fi Hotspots: Another option available to students are the publicly available hotspots.  Below is a list of Internet providers and links to their websites where information about their current offerings can be found**:

    • Laptop Loaners: The University has added limited inventory to the Laptop Loaner program. For more information contact the VP for Enrollment and Student Development’s Office. Please note: inventory is limited and backlogged. Students may also purchase a discounted laptop or discounted software.
  • Academic support for remote learning: Center for Academic Success and Achievement (CASA) remains committed to supporting students through this transition. Virtual academic coaching, tutoring, supplemental instruction, and accommodations will continue to be offered. More information on CASA services here.
  • Affirming our Asian and Asian American family: We stand with our Asian and Asian American (A&AA) community members who may be experiencing xenophobia or racism at this time. We see and support our A&AA family. The Center for Inclusive Excellence will be hosting a Virtual Processing Space for the A&AA community and their allies on Friday, March 27th from 12:15-1:15pm. For more information and/or to access the Zoom meeting please email the CIE Director,  Patty Birch.
  • Intercultural ceremony: We understand that a major highlight for our first-generation college students, students of color, and LGBTQ+ graduates is the Intercultural Ceremony. We regret that the ceremony will be cancelled this spring. However, the coordinating team is working on a plan to recognize students and to ensure graduates receives their stoles for Commencement (Date TBA). Stay tuned.
  • Partnership with the City of Framingham: We continue to partner with the Mayor’s Office, Framingham Public School, and community based organizations on initiatives to ensure the broader community is safe, secure, and The City has compiled resources and information here.

This is just a snapshot in time of the ways we are maintaining our equity focus. The landscape and guidance is changing hourly and we ask for your understanding and flexibility as we continue to serve our community.  We encourage you to reach out and let us know what you need. We are listening.

Contact:

Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE)

Constanza Cabello, Ed.D.

Vice President of DICE

ccabello@framingham.edu