May 1, 2017
Following today’s tragic events, our students’ sense of safety has been violated. They are grappling with a sense of loss and vulnerability.
As you are aware, the next two weeks are filled with a host of academic demands – last classes, review sessions, and final exams, among others. Some of your students witnessed the attacks, and some are friends of the victims. Others are scared, and understandably so.
I am writing to ask that you be sensitive to the needs of our students and the particular vulnerabilities they are experiencing right now, especially those who witnessed the attack and those friends of the victims and witnesses. In addition, many students evacuated from Gregory Gym were forced to leave class notes, final assignments, and other academic materials in the building leaving them unprepared for these final weeks.
When classes begin tomorrow, be patient with your students. Finals are already a time that tests the limits of many students’ anxiety and stress. For many, this tragedy will exacerbate such anxiety and stress. Your students see you as more than just their teacher. You can and do provide a desperately needed sense of calm and reassurance to them.
As faculty, you have broad discretion over course assignments, including providing your students the opportunity to makeup or excuse a classroom assignment or activity they might have missed this week, or assign an incomplete grade that can be carried into the next semester. You can hold additional office hours or study sessions. This should not impact the scheduling of final exams.
We are all committed to student success and now, more than ever, we need to ask ourselves what is best for students. Available resources include:
- Counseling and Mental Health Center will stay open until 7 p.m. for walk-ins through May 3
- CMHC Crisis Line (available 24/7) - 512-475-6628
- Behavior Concerns Advice Line (available 24/7 for concerns about students, staff, or faculty) – 512-232-5050
Thank you in advance for supporting our students.
Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Texas at Austin