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President's Message, Autumn Updates and Next Steps

In our sixth summer newsletter, we provide information related to fall.

Dear students,

We know that given the President’s announcement today, you are eager for information about what life as a Stanford student will look like this year. At the bottom of this message is a large collection of information for continuing (not incoming) Stanford students to help you begin to think through what is best for you and your family over the next twelve months. Before this, we believe it’s important to reflect on this time in history for our university and how it may be impacting you individually and as a community.

We see in the eyes of the many students with whom we’ve spent time in the last five months over Zoom the disorientation of this historical moment. They, like so many Stanford students, have been moving toward their greatest goals. Stanford students work hard. You plan. You invest time and energy. You achieve. You juggle. Classes. Internships. Undergraduate research. Study away. All those plans. This moment has thrown all of us into a universe where those plans may seem thwarted, derailed, elusive...and so much more. One student spoke about this time in terms of feeling like falling off a ladder. Now what? Now where? 

While this pandemic may leave us confused and unsettled, it does not have to stifle our ability to have hope and vision. We urge you to consider this historic moment as an opportunity to choose to step off the ladder you’ve been climbing. Now, you can reimagine and redefine what you want, how you shape your future, and what you can contribute. You have a moment to choose to step off the ladder, look around and ask “what can I do to help?”, “what do I care about?”, and “what role can I play in bringing about positive change?” These are not simple questions, nor do they have obvious answers. Even at our ages, we are challenged to feel sure of our own answers. But, this is a remarkable moment to be able to ask them…and to choose to embrace hope.  

That’s what we encourage you to do as you look to next year. As you read through the different options and considerations below, ask yourself what is next for you, and what you want to put into the world for this next year.

With great faith in you and your ability to make our world better,

Susie & Sarah

Susie Brubaker-Cole, Vice Provost for Student Affairs

Sarah Church, Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education


In the following section we will touch on:

• Deciding What is Right For You: Options Available to You for Next Year

• Students with Specific Needs

• Resources & Opportunities on Campus & Away

• Overview of Life on Campus in the Fall Quarter

Deciding What is Right for You: Options Available to You for Next Year

For this coming year, students can enroll throughout the course of the autumn, winter, spring and summer quarters, and can take any one of these quarters “off” as a “Flex Term.” Before enrolling in Axess each quarter, you will be asked to complete a short form to help us understand your enrollment plans. For each of the four quarters, you must choose one of the following options:

Enroll in Classes  

Students can enroll in courses and have access, as normal, to the resources that we provide on campus and/or remotely. Tuition will be charged at the full-time flat rate for that quarter. There is no per unit tuition billing in any of the four quarters.

Take Your “Flex Term”

During your Flex Term, you will be able to participate in Stanford activities, such as student organizations, and use many of the associated university resources You can take one Flex Term in any one of the four quarters of this coming year.

For students interested in full-time Stanford-funded opportunities such as research or Cardinal Service, except under exceptional circumstances, you must have been enrolled in classes for two quarters before you are eligible to participate in full-time Stanford-funded opportunities during your Flex Term. Therefore, these types of opportunities will, with rare exceptions, only be available in Spring and Summer Quarter.

Tuition will not be charged for the Flex Term.

Take a Leave of Absence

If you want to take time away from formal course work and the university during this year, you are welcome to take a Leave of Absence (LoA). Undergrads can take one un-enrolled quarter (your Flex Term) away from Stanford without having to file for a LoA. You must file a LoA form if you take quarters away in addition to your Flex Term. It is important to note that while on a LoA, you will not have access to the university’s programs and services. 

International students should consult with Bechtel before taking a LoA to understand the implications for their ability to remain in the United States during a LoA. 

In summary, you can:

• enroll in as many quarters as you wish; however, in most circumstances, financial aid will only be available for three quarters.

• take one quarter away from classes as a Flex Term. During your Flex Term, you won’t enroll in courses but you can continue to access university resources and services remotely.

• take a leave of absence for as many quarters as you wish. When you take a leave of absence, you won’t have access to university resources or services.

Please visit the ReApproaching Stanford website for more detailed information about this coming year’s enrollment framework and updated LoA policy.

Students with Specific Needs

International Students

International students have additional concerns and challenges to weigh as they look to decide what to do for the next year. A few key considerations:

• International students will be receiving a separate communication from the Bechtel International Center with considerations for their visa status.  In addition, the Bechtel International Center will be hosting multiple town halls to help address specific questions.

• In-Person Courses: All entering international frosh and transfer students who have been approved to reside on campus will be able to enroll in the in person courses offered each quarter.   

Students with Special Circumstances Needing Housing

In July, students with special circumstances were able to apply to live in on-campus housing outside of their cohort’s designated quarters. Special circumstances included international students who may face travel or visa complications; students experiencing homelessness; students with home environments that prevent them from being able to participate in a remote learning environment or are unsafe; student-athletes approved to prepare for and compete in their intercollegiate seasons; and other special needs. 

Students who were approved for housing on campus through this process will be able to live on campus. We recommend closely reviewing the information below on what campus life will entail under COVID-related restrictions. These may present a range of challenges, including the potential for less freedom and more social isolation than many students may want to experience.  It is also important to note that while we are preparing a number of measures to keep COVID transmission rates as low as possible (see below), we expect there to be some prevalence of the virus on our campus and in surrounding communities.  

If you are a new first year student, a new transfer student or a sophomore who did not apply for housing through this process and, given these changing circumstances, would like to be considered for housing on campus, please report your concerns to the Stanford Student Services Center by 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 16. Submitting your information through this process will not guarantee housing. Your circumstances will be reviewed with the same standard that was applied in the first process.

For students approved to live on campus who receive financial aid, if your actual travel costs to campus turn out to be significantly more than what was estimated, the Financial Aid Office will make adjustments to your aid. To request this adjustment, contact the FAO with a copy of your travel itinerary.

Resident Assistants

Our RAs are a critical part of the Stanford student experience. ResEd is in communication with our RAs to (1) provide employment opportunities for the fall, and (2) to help student staff understand what to expect in subsequent quarters.

Resources & Opportunities on Campus & Away

Many of you have shared that during your time away from campus you have struggled with isolation and a sense of disconnection. Below are some of the ways you can stay connected to the campus community and the resources you can access during your time away from campus. We will also continue to update you as these resources evolve throughout the course of the next year.

Student Organizations

Students who are enrolled or on their Flex Term will be able to continue their involvement in student organizations. Financial Officers of organizations must be enrolled students because of the level of liability and financial responsibility they carry in that role. We recommend that the leaders of our student organizations reach out to their group advisor and/or connect with the Office of Student Engagement for guidance on how to lead their group during this time.

Mental Health & Well-being

Well-being Support Resources: Our virtual well-being website is an easy place to go to find the available resources and for advice on how to manage mental health during this time. Our well-being staff also provide coaching sessions for students anywhere in the world. Our coaches are experts in the change process and serve as skilled partners to help you make shifts in beliefs and behaviors to improve your overall well-being, or simply to offer support when you’re struggling. With them, you can clarify values, set goals and priorities, talk through challenges, and create your own vision for well-being.

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS): Our CAPS staff will continue our full telehealth services for students in California, and will continue to keep a team onsite for any students who need to be seen in-person. For students outside California, CAPS is able to provide care management services, including helping students connect to resources in their area, and supporting them while they are seeking care locally. CAPS 24/7 emergency support services will continue as usual.

Centers for Equity, Community and Leadership and First Generation and/or Low Income Office (FLI)

The Community Centers and the FLI Office will continue to provide community building and educational programming through the use of virtual platforms. Our goal is to ensure that students, no matter where they are geographically, feel connected to their “on-campus” communities and feel a strong sense of belonging at Stanford. We are also committed to planning our community building, educational and academic, mental health and wellness, and leadership and professional development programming with the most vulnerable students in mind. The Opportunity Fund remains available to help support students with exceptional financial needs.

Office of Accessible Education & the Schwab Learning Center

The Office of Accessible Education continues to serve students in our virtual environment. If you need accommodations, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our Schwab Learning Center (SLC) continues to help students understand their learning process and leverage their unique cognitive strengths. SLC can recommend strategies for students to help optimize their potential as learners and help make tutor connections. 

Internships, Jobs & Volunteer Opportunities

We know that many of you are concerned about getting the opportunities that you need to gain experience for your next steps after Stanford. To help support you:

• All of our career fairs and other career events are now virtual and can be accessible whether students are on campus or off campus.

• BEAM Career Education will offer virtual one-on-one career coach appointments, including virtual drop-in appointments.

• We are facilitating campus recruiting virtually via Handshake, our existing career services platform.

• BEAM is creating a hub that will contain internships, micro internships and projects for students to find positive, productive experiences.

• BEAM is launching a new program called Bridges. Through SAM (Stanford Alumni Mentoring), a new hub called Bridges will be available to students for the 2020-2021 academic school year. This hub will include opportunities for students to engage in paid or unpaid opportunities that are hosted by alumni at different companies.

• As BEAM is finding different experiential opportunities for students, they will be working closely with Bechtel International Center to identify opportunities that will support the needs of international students. 

• The Haas Center looks forward to working with students to explore viable spring and summer Cardinal Quarter opportunities.

Academic Advising

Getting help: Your Academic Advisor in VPUE (Academic Advising Director or AARC Advisor) is available to help with your academic planning for this year. You are invited to reach out to your Academic Advising Director or AARC Advisor if you would like to discuss your options for this academic year. 

Grading: The Faculty Senate approved new grading policies for the 2020-2021 academic year. All undergraduate and graduate courses will either be Student Option, which allows you the choice of Letter Grade or Credit/No Credit (CR/NC), or Satisfactory/No Credit (S/NC). No courses will be offered as letter grade only.

Office Hours & Tutoring: Guidelines related to office hours, tutoring, and student-led study groups are being finalized and guidance will be shared in the next two weeks.

Overview of Life on Campus in Autumn Quarter

While only approved students with special circumstances will be able to be present on campus during autumn quarter, we want to provide clear and transparent information about what we expect campus life will look like. It is difficult to fully predict how conditions will change throughout the quarter as COVID infection rates evolve and, correspondingly, state and county requirements are adjusted. Again, we do expect there to be some prevalence of COVID on campus and in surrounding communities.  Should conditions in our county worsen, restrictions on campus will change accordingly. The State of California has recently released its guidance for institutions of higher education that informs many of the areas below. We’d like to address a few key areas, share what the current conditions are and what we expect the conditions to be in the fall. As a reminder, students may cancel their housing assignment with no penalty prior to moving in.

Safety & Supplies

As you would expect, all students on campus will be asked to observe public health guidance, including wearing a face covering when outside of their private room, washing hands frequently, sanitizing surfaces, and practicing physical distancing. Upon arrival to campus this fall, students will be provided with critical supplies such as a cloth face covering, disposable face coverings, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer. 

Social Life

We know that many of you are eager to see one another and be able to spend time together. Unfortunately, we expect social life on campus to be extremely limited. We anticipate students will be able to:

• Be with their roommate in their apartment unit without a mask or face covering (once your arrival COVID testing protocol is completed). 

Students will not be able to:

• Have other students in their rooms.

• Have guests (including Stanford students not approved to live on campus) anywhere on campus.

• Gather in groups.

Academic Life

Courses & Classrooms: As we have shared, the vast majority of courses will continue to be held online, including for students who are residing on campus. Faculty are in the final stages of planning their course offerings for the year. For the limited number of in-person courses planned, the University is determining space use options in accordance with public health guidance.  

As the President’s communication noted, we are currently unable to hold indoor classes. We are exploring outdoor options for in-person classes, but these will be very limited in number. Once the university is granted permission to hold in-person, indoor classes, there will be extensive safety protocols for in-classroom learning, including required face coverings, physical distancing for students and instructors, and all seating will be at least 6 feet apart. Many of our regular classrooms will not be in use because they cannot accommodate these safety protocols.


Libraries: Green Library, as well as select campus libraries, are open by appointment only. All visitors must complete the COVID-19 Hygiene Best Practices web class, as well use the Stanford Health Check Tool to self-report your health status prior to each visit. Face coverings must be worn at all times while in the libraries, and patrons are required to adhere to physical distancing guidelines. Currently, library access is limited to the following current Stanford ID cardholders: graduate students, post-docs, professors (including emeriti), academic staff, fellows, and Stanford visiting scholars. Undergraduate students will be able to visit the libraries starting Monday, August 17. To check the status of library access and services, please visit

Recreation: As of now, the Dish walking and running trail, the Outdoor Center gear rental program, the Avery rec pool, the golf course and driving range, tennis courts, Cobb track, the Stanford Red Barn equestrian center, and many outdoor fields are open. Visit for the latest information on what's open and what we are offering.

Dorm Spaces: Each student will be assigned to a private bedroom; the majority will have a private bathroom. Guidance from the state requires that the common area spaces in our undergraduate housing remain closed. Laundry rooms and kitchenettes will be open, but students must follow face covering, physical distancing, and other guidelines.

Dining Options: Dining halls will be open for to-go meal service only.

Leaving Campus 

Students will be asked to remain on campus except for emergencies and shopping for basic needs, such as groceries or medicine.


Information on move-in dates and processes will be coming soon. If you choose to fly, we encourage you to wait to purchase your plane ticket until move-in dates are confirmed.

Medical Precautions

Campus Arrival: Students will take a COVID-19 test upon arrival to campus and will be asked to limit exposure to other students for the subsequent five days.  Five to seven days after arrival, students will be given a second test. Students will not be asked to go into formal quarantine during this period, but instead will be asked to exercise caution and good judgement. And, if sharing an apartment, to communicate expectations with roommates early.

On-Going Safety Precautions: We expect that students will be participating in testing in a regular cadence after arrival. The frequency will be determined by conditions in the county and on campus. In addition, students will be asked to screen and report symptoms daily through a health check app.

Exposure: Should a student be exposed to someone who has tested positive, the student will be moved into a quarantine space on campus. Quarantine spaces will have a private bathroom. During that time, the student will receive meal delivery, have access to WiFi and be supported by a Residence Dean.

Positive Tests: If a student tests positive, they will be housed in an isolation space and will receive meal delivery, have access to WiFi and be supported by a Residence Dean.  In addition, students in isolation will receive frequent contact from Vaden and a Vaden Physician is on call 24/7.


As we’ve shared earlier, we will ask undergraduate students to sign a compact agreeing to abide by the conditions established to reside on campus. We will share the compact with all undergraduates in late August. If a student cancels their housing assignment after moving in, they will only be charged for the time they stayed in housing. No other fees will be assessed.

Living Off Campus

Some students have shared that they plan to live off campus in the Bay Area with a group of friends from Stanford. There are a few details we’d like to share about the university’s expectations:

• Undergraduate students who are not living on campus will not be allowed to come to campus.

• Undergraduates living on campus, as part of the campus compact, are to avoid off-campus travel except for medical and essential services, and this will not include visiting undergraduates living off campus.

We also want to be clear that other University policies, including the Fundamental Standard, will still be applicable to all students. Students who were not approved to be on campus are not permitted to come to campus. Coming to campus for any reason when you are not authorized to be here will be considered a violation of the Fundamental Standard.

Staying in Touch

We know that this is a lot of information to process and much to consider. We welcome your continued engagement as we adjust to these changes. To get involved, share your ideas or express your concerns, please go here. If you have any questions, please submit a ServiceNow ticket here