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WSU leaders address community in first virtual town hall

Thousands of members of the WSU community tuned in Friday for the first of what will be a series of virtual town halls.

Frequently asked questions among members of the WSU community were answered by President Kirk Schulz, Interim Provost Bryan Slinker, Vice President of Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales, and Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer Theresa Elliot‑Cheslek.

Among Schulz’s messages to viewers was that the university is being deliberative about the way it communicates with students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders.

“We have worked really hard to make sure we put out communications and don’t have to go back a day later and explain the things we’ve said,” Schulz said.

The complete virtual town hall can be viewed on YouTube.

Officials plan to host similar virtual town halls with members of the WSU community every two weeks or so. An announcement of the next event, as well as the latest information on WSU’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak, can be found on the university’s COVID-19 website.

Here are some key takeaway from the town hall:

Housing and Dining Fees

WSU Pullman will not charge students who live in university-owned residence halls or apartments a cancellation fee should students opt to terminate their contract. Those who choose to do so will have a prorated amount, as of March 13, applied either to their university account for the 2020-21 academic year or as a refund.

Dining plans are terminated along with housing contracts. Students who do so can either receive a prorated amount of the base fee as of March 13 as a credit for the next academic year, a refund, or can receive a refund and donate to Cougs Feeding Cougs to assist eligible students in need of assistance securing food.

Personal belongings can stay in university-owned residence halls and apartments through the end of a student’s current housing contract.

Students are asked to respond to a survey on their housing plans by April 10.

More information can be found in a letter sent to students with current housing contracts on March 25.

Grades

WSU is easing its rules on pass-fail grading. Because myriad circumstances for individual students exist, blanket pass-fail grading will not happen.

Instead, the deadline for requesting a pass-fail declaration has been extended to June 1. Students are encouraged to speak with an advisor prior to selecting the pass-fail option, as it may impact their federal financial aid.

The maximum number of course withdraws is also being increased from four to six and the new deadline for withdrawing is May 1.

Refunds

The university will not be issuing tuition refunds. More information on specific fees will be communicated to members of the WSU community net week.

Ways to help

Those interested in providing assistance to students are encouraged to look at two specific programs, Cougs Feeding Cougs and Cougs Helping Cougs. The former is a fund that assists in ensuring food security for students while the latter is an emergency fund for students in need of short-term financial assistance.

Summer session

WSU will have a summer session, though exactly how it will be delivered hasn’t yet been finalized. Interim Provost Bryan Slinker said officials don’t anticipate the session will include face-to-face instruction, but options will be evaluated as the ongoing COVID-19 situation develops.