A Letter to Parents from NYU President Andrew Hamilton
Date: November 10, 2021
TO: NYU Parents
FROM: NYU President Andrew Hamilton
Dear Parents, Loved Ones, and Guardians,
The library seems very full of students these days. That’s partly in contrast to last year, partly due to autumn weather having finally arrived, and partly owing to the mid-term grading period. Whatever the reason, it is an upbeat sight.
What Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, what St. Patrick’s Day is to Chicago, so is Halloween to NYU’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. Washington Square Park was packed with costumed revelers the weekend before last, as was the route of Greenwich Village’s Halloween parade. Notwithstanding the allure of the many activities that take place around the city in addition to the parade, NYU also has its own Halloween pastimes, including our pumpkin-carving contest. The creativity of our students never fails to astonish me.
Still, little this year escapes the shadow of the pandemic, including Halloween. Following the Halloween festivities, we reminded students about the availability of free testing, and that they should stay home from class if they feel sick, and we saw a slight — and not unexpected — increase in the number of cases after seven weeks of steady declines.
Students are clearly enthusiastic about the full resumption of in-person classes and residential living this semester. Nevertheless, we have heard from some — and from some parents, guardians, and loved ones — about the challenges of this year’s transition. Some students report having more difficulty connecting, making friends, finding “their people.” That was entirely understandable last year with our mix of on-campus, off-campus, and remote. But this year, too, has its challenges — from the ongoing mask-wearing requirement to reduced communal eating. Many of the ways in which students connect are hampered by public health protocols.
I wanted you to know that we are aware of the issue, and our student life and our Wellness Exchange staff are working to address it. Safety and community well-being must remain our priority for the time being, and so, notwithstanding our very high rate of vaccination, many of our health and safety rules remain in place. Some of these, we know, can make connecting more difficult: for example — student clubs and activities offices used to regularly serve food at events, which help draw participants; currently, though, we prohibit serving food at indoor events.
As I noted, since the start of the semester, we have mostly seen steady declines in the number of COVID-19 cases reported. Based on these trends, we have lifted some restrictions already in carefully calibrated ways (for instance, permitting non-resident NYU students to visit those who live in residence halls, and allowing students to attend other students’ performances and athletic contests), and we hope to lift still others, in the same prudent but steady manner that has served us well so far. We know how important the experience of campus life is to our students, and our COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team is keenly aware of this, too.
With the Thanksgiving holiday on the horizon, we are asking everyone in the NYU community to be mindful of the CDC’s holiday guidance, and reminding them that there is testing available both before and after they travel.
From my wife Jennie and me, here’s wishing that the Thanksgiving break brings you all some joyful and relaxed moments with family, friends, and especially your students.
I will be in touch again soon. All the best.
New York University