At 12:45 p.m. CST on Friday, February 25, 2021, the Student Government Association (SGA) held their semesterly Question/Answer (Q/A) forum with Illinois Tech President Alan Cramb and Provost Peter Kilpatrick. Also present at the forum were Dean of Students Katherine Stetz, Associate Vice Provost of Enrollment Services Abigail J. McGrath, Director of Public Safety Andrew Yocum, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Dr. Joseph Orgel, Vice President of Administration, Facilities, and Public Safety Bruce Watts III, Co-Interim Director of Athletics / Coordinator of Compliance Usha Gilmore, Assistant Vice President of Facilities, Operations, and Maintenances Kevin J. Gallagher, Co-Interim Director of Athletics and Head of Men's Soccer Coach Marc Colwell, Vice President of External Affairs Jess Goode, and Associate Vice Provost of Career Services Thy Nguyen. The event was emceed by SGA Executive President Alex Kern and was assisted by SGA Vice President of Events Martina Dimitrova, and Senators Keru Omad and Kimberley Goveas. Please visit SGA’s website (sga.iit.edu) if you want to view the forum or go to https://bit.ly/3dRO8h7.
In Fall 2020, I had all my classes in person with groups less than 10 people, more than 6 feet apart from each other and all wearing masks. A few months later, we are all healthy and we have two weeks in a row of 0 COVID cases at IIT. Why are we still studying online?
Despite the low numbers being reported at Illinois Tech lately, the city of Chicago is still seeing around 250 new cases of the Coronavirus every day. In other cities such as New York, a resurgence of COVID-19 is happening and their rates are starting to increase. Provost Kilpatrick said that Illinois Tech has to remain vigilant and that “we have to be a little more patient.” However, many faculty are still encouraged to teach at least a part of their courses in person. Students are also encouraged to reach out to faculty if they want more engagement or interaction in person this semester. As the pandemic slowly unwinds and rates decrease in coming months, Illinois Tech will push harder and harder to resume in-person classes.
The university has expressed concern about the financial situation and health of the students but still kept the tuition at the same rates this year. Please help us understand this.
President Cramb replied that the university increased their tuition last semester to be able to keep all of their faculty and staff member onboard despite the massive losses in income they went through during last year’s semesters. This year, however, the school did not increase the tuition rates. The school has consulted with students and their families along with the Financial Aid office to help make it as easy as they possibly can make it for students. “We’re being as thoughtful as we can to everyone and still run the university and still have (Illinois Tech’s) faculty and staff,” said President Cramb. Provost Kilpatrick also mentioned that the school is distributing money to eligible students via the CARES Acts. Last semester, a total of $1.8 million went to Illinois Tech’s neediest students. Another $1.1-1.12 million is set to be given this semester, and students in need can apply to be on the distribution list for another $.7 million. The school also has raised a few hundred thousand dollars for the Hawks4Hawks campaign to be given to students in need. Illinois Tech, furthermore, is spending money on technology and facilities to accommodate the COVID-19 situation, and is making investments to ensure that the school is prepared for the next year.
Why does the university deem it appropriate to allow guests to come and visit campus but not allow a reduced capacity, socially distanced, graduation ceremony?
President Cramb and Colwell replied that Illinois Tech is slowly but surely allowing more people to come to campus. For example, prospective students are going to be visiting campus soon (for Hawk Preview Days). These visits are going to be very short and not for more than 60 minutes, compared to a graduation ceremony that will have larger groups of people gathering for a longer time. In addition, Dean Stetz mentioned that the school is also going to start allowing students to admit guests into residence halls soon. Currently the school is working and finalizing on these protocols. Unfortunately, a graduation ceremony is not possible. However, the school is currently planning on hosting virtual ceremonies and giveaways for graduation regalia and decoration for the graduating students. The commencement fee has been refunded to all graduating students.
When international students come back from their home countries, is Illinois Tech going to take care of them and quarantine them? Even if they will not be living on campus?
This is highly dependent on the city of Chicago’s COVID-19 rules for people coming into the United States. With the vaccination process underway this year, President Cramb said that he is hopeful that international students can be vaccinated before they start school in Chicago so quarantining will not be necessary.
For students who can't go back home during the summer: would you provide a decreased price rate for on-campus housing since the tuition rate for next semester has been increased?
President Alan Cramb and Provost Kilpatrick replied that the tuition rate has not been increased next year. Students who are unable to return home during the summer can speak with Illinois Tech Housing. There is plentiful housing during the summer and the summer is a good time to catch up on coursework. McGrath and Nguyen have been working carefully with SGA and the Residence Advisors to determine what housing will look like during the summer, and this is a top-priority issue for them.
What was the reasoning for the decision behind cancelling fall and winter athletics?
Earlier this year, President Cramb had attended the North Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC) and talked with other universities’ presidents. Cramb said that he found that COVID rates at that time were increasing, and at that time it was still uncertain on what the vaccination process will look like in the coming months. Due to these reasons, plus the social distancing protocols, the school decided to cancel the sports until further notice.
When do you expect facilities operations to return to normal?
As soon as the city of Chicago allows it, and when vaccinations have reached the majority of the population and when the COVID-19 rates are low, we can start expecting facilities and on-campus activities to return to normal. Watts said that the Illinois Tech facilities are currently operating the same amount as they would be when the campus reopens completely.
Moving into live questions from the audience:
How can student organizations hold small in-person ceremonies of their own for graduating members, since there isn’t an official in-person event from Illinois Tech?
President Cramb suggested that students talk to Dean Stetz or Nguyen if they are interested in doing something like this. The Campus Life team is also going to help with this.
Registration is coming up for summer and fall courses. Is there confirmation on whether the university will be holding in-person classes during the summer and fall?
It is not certain if summer classes will be completely in-person. However, Provost Kilpatrick confirmed that the school will be going completely back to in-person in fall.
Will special graduating students receive holders and frames for their diplomas? Last year graduates just received the certificate via mail and nothing else.
McGrath mentioned that last year, the school had very little time to prepare for things like that, however this year the school is looking into suppliers to ensure that this happens by May. Plus, the Illinois Tech Bookstore is going to have diploma covers available for purchase for $5, according to Dean Stetz.
Would it be possible for the Bog to reopen given the new changes to Chicago’s socially-distanced indoor dining policy?
Nguyen and the OCL team is working on this and they are going to have the Bog open latest by this summer.
At this point in the forum, Provost Kilpatrick and President Cramb brought up the recent Uyghur Genocide event which was hosted by the Muslim Students Association, as well as general diversity and inclusion topics. They, along with other members who were on the call, had attended the event which took place the week prior. Provost Kilpatrick said that the advertisement for the event had some strong language in it, which raised concern among some of the Chinese faculty and students. “[Sensitive topics] need to be talked about in a way that is very civil and respectful and dignified,” he said. He suggested a campus-wide dialogue on how to discuss difficult issues from multiple perspectives without being disagreeable.
Our E-sports competitive players would like to know if the university will be investing in E-sports.
Illinois Tech has been looking into housing and events for E-sports team members and championships.
Is there a fee if we enroll for the co-terminal program but then decide to not go with it later on?
There is no fee for enrolling or leaving the co-terminal program.