NEW WILMINGTON, PA- President Richardson met with Lead College Correspondent Lauren Millhorn on October 27 to discuss Halloween weekend, updates on COVID at Westminster College, and retention rates as we approach the end of another fall semester. Richardson first addressed student complaints about Public Safety officers remaining unaware of the updates to the visitation policy. She claimed that instances where Public Safety attempted to report students for entering other dorm buildings were miscommunications.
“Dean Vance tells me that Public Safety leadership was notified about the policy change at the same time students were,” Richardson said. “Apparently, there was one officer who didn’t receive that information [on time], and that officer has since been updated. Public safety can’t penalize students; they document possible violations, and then they go through the student conduct process. Dean Vance tells me that no students were referred to that process because the officer was misinformed.”
Richardson also shared that the Board of Trustees will meet this weekend to discuss the recent resolutions that both faculty and SGA proposed for vaccine requirements. The Board of Trustees is still waiting on the fine details for President Biden’s vaccination mandate.
In light of the upcoming holiday weekend, the President discussed administration’s procedures for potential surges in positive cases. Such a surge over last Halloween weekend forced campus into a quiet phase for the remainder of fall semester.
“Were we to have a strong increase [of positive cases], [our plan] is outlined in the COVID policy of the College. If there is a big outbreak, then we would likely move to a quiet phase. That would be done, frankly, in consultation with the Department of Health. We work with them and try to adhere to their recommendations as much as possible.”
Richardson encouraged students to engage in safe Halloween fun by following the regular procedures of proper masking, distancing, and handwashing. She wished the Westminster population a safe and happy Halloween.
She also discussed the College’s current stance in terms of enrollment numbers, emphasizing that registration will determine retention rates for fall 2021.
“The College’s budget is driven, in many ways, by enrollment. We are a tuition-dependent institution. Anything that we do as we plan for the current year and years ahead looks at enrollment…We had a larger entering class this fall than we had the previous two falls, so that will help [enrollment numbers].
“We’ll know more [about student retention rates] when registration is finished. The best predictor of whether someone’s planning to return next semester [is if] they register for classes…We’ll be looking at that with great care.”
Richardson explained the College’s process for addressing students who don’t register for the upcoming semester.
“Students who don’t register are contacted by their academic advisor or the department chair if they’re an advanced student well in the major. We’ll try to find out [why] they’re not able to register and try to mitigate [their reasons]. We’ll know, I think, a whole lot more [about retention rates] in two weeks—when registration’s wrapped up.”