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Academic calendar, racial justice, housing assignments and more

In our second summer newsletter to undergraduates, we share campus updates and answer FAQs.

Hello students,

Here’s our second weekly newsletter to all undergraduates and their families about the upcoming school year. You’ll find information on the following below. 

  • The academic calendar for 2020-21
  • An important update for international students
  • Application process for housing students with special circumstances
  • Housing assignments and leaves of absence
  • An update on advancing racial justice
  • New websites
  • Our planning process 

The academic calendar for 2020-21 

Last Thursday, the Steering Committee for the Faculty Senate approved the academic calendar and course meeting schedule for 2020-21. Here are the details, and here’s a quick summary:

The revised calendar includes four 10-week quarters, adjusted to allow sufficient time to safely move undergraduates into and out of campus housing and incorporate COVID-19 testing protocols now being developed. 

The four quarters do not include final exam periods. Final exams, in classes that use them, should be replaced by continuous assessment spread through the quarter.

The new daily course meeting schedule starts at 8:30 a.m. and offers class options extending into the evening to accommodate the limited number of in-person classes that will be held. Please note that when you look at class meeting patterns, the vast majority of courses will be online.   

An important update for international students

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced changes to a temporary exemption regarding online coursework that it had put in place this spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Among other things, the new rules say that “nonimmigrant students within the United States are not permitted to take a full course of study through online classes.”

“We are concerned about this decision, which will create more uncertainty and complexity for international students,” President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said in a statement. “Our international students must be able to continue making progress toward completing their degrees, and as a university we intend to support them in doing so.”

The university is analyzing the DHS guidance to provide Stanford students accurate and timely information. Bechtel International Center is reaching out to all impacted students. More information is posted here.

Application process for housing for students with special circumstances

As we mentioned in our email last week, we’ll have limited housing available next year for undergraduates of all class years who may need to reside on campus during a quarter in addition to their quarterly cohort assignments, which you’ll find here. If you feel you may have special circumstances that warrant consideration for these limited opportunities, please submit a housing request before 6 p.m. Sunday, July 12. 

The location of housing assignments allotted through this process will depend on the number of students requesting housing. Students will be placed in a dormitory or house with a Resident Fellow and/or Escondido Village Graduate Residences Building A, in accordance with the housing assignments process that will be outlined by Student Housing later this summer. 

Housing assignments and leaves of absence 

We’d like to comment on two FAQs from this past week: How will the housing assignment process work? And, can I take a leave of absence? We know you’d like to live with your friends next year, and we’d like this too. We are discussing how to make this possible. 

We also understand some of you are considering a leave of absence (LOA) next year. Stanford will allow students to take leaves of absence as they normally would. The exception is first-year students and incoming transfer students, who must enroll in autumn quarter. 

Stanford’s LOA policy remains in place, but the process of how LOAs will be requested, given the new four-quarter calendar, is being revised. An update on the process is coming soon. 

An update on advancing racial justice

Last Tuesday, President Tessier-Lavigne shared an update on advancing racial justice at Stanford, including enhancing support for the Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership (our community centers), and initiating 10 new faculty hires focusing on the impact of race in America.

New websites

We’ve launched a new website that’s a companion to this newsletter. “Re-Approaching Stanford” is where we’ll gather everything you need to know for 2020-21, with FAQs arranged by topic—from academics to social life to returning to campus and more. We’re just getting started, and will add more information as it becomes available.

Also, Stanford’s Summer Session office recently launched this “Summer Opportunities” website, featuring many activities for students, including pop-up non-credit classes, workshops, guest speakers and even a lecture on the hit musical Hamilton.

Student intern takeover!

Nowwe’d like to turn things over to our summer interns. They’ll answer two more FAQs below, just after our signatures. 


Susie Brubaker-Cole
Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church
Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education

Fall planning process

As expected, Stanford has been receiving many important questions and concerns about the university’s return-to-campus protocols and overall structure for the 2020-21 academic year. This feedback is extremely informative to how we plan for autumn quarter and beyond.

Working groups

In order to address as many topics as possible, we have created a system of more than 30 working groups. These groups have been categorized into the following sections: 

  • Policy: Developing policies for Community Living, Social Distancing, Appropriate Protective Wear, and Screening.
  • Residential Assignments: Creating plans for the Undergraduate Housing Assignment Process, Undergraduates Living in Graduate Housing, and Undergraduate Students Minoritized by COVID-19.
  • Residential Operations: Determining appropriate protocols for Dining Operations and Common Space Usage.
  • Campus Operations: Creating processes for Managing Positive COVID-19 Cases, Emergency Preparedness, Returning to Shelter-in-Place, Managing Student Information, and Identifying and Planning for the Provision of Core Supplies. 
  • Medical Operations: Developing processes and protocols for Student Entry Testing and Students Living in Shared Apartments.
  • Residential and Campus Staff: Providing Student & Professional Staff Training; Undergraduate Student Staff Employment, Assignment, and Role Descriptions; Undergraduate Residential Student Staff Training; Exploring Graduate Live-Ins in Undergraduate Housing; Resident Fellow Expectations & Policies; Professional Staff Training in Trauma Informed Care; and Evening Support roles.
  • Campus Life: Deciding the structure of Social Life on Campus, Off-Campus Social Isolation, and New Graduate Student Orientation. This includes Student Organizations, Greek Organizations, Community Centers, BEAM: Career Education, Traditions, Acts of Intolerance, and Frosh Planning.
  • Communications: Organizing overall communications, Resident Preparation and Training, Family Support, and Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) and Student Affairs Joint Communications for Students & Families.

An additional set of working groups is focusing on academic continuity, including student support and enrichment programs, planning for in-person classes, and planning for online classes. We will share more information about academic planning in a future newsletter.  

Student interns

Stanford understands the necessity of incorporating student feedback and perspectives into its decision making process. With this in mind, the university has asked a group of student interns to help inform our journey towards the best possible Stanford experience we can provide to you all.

Student interns are actively contributing to the conversations happening in our working groups, along with researching proposed plans from other universities, relaying student input, and helping with communication efforts. We hope that by having a diverse student intern team, one that spans across different majors, class years, and backgrounds, we will make decisions about next year that support and prioritize all student experiences. 

As we make these decisions, we would love to hear your input and feedback. What questions do you have? What would you like next year to look like? Do you have any concerns that we should be aware of? Please use this form to share your ideas about the planning for the 2020-21 academic year, or to express your interest in getting involved with the process. If you have any questions about the planning process, please submit a ServiceNow ticket here.

--  Summer interns Taylor Crutison (’20, Human Biology) and Wesley Stephenson (’22, Urban Studies)