COVID-19 Student Communications

Dear students, faculty and staff,

We are coming to the end of the fourth week of this unusual fall semester, and I am grateful for the efforts you have made to help us reach this point successfully. Our Emergency Management team continues to monitor the virus closely, and meets regularly to discuss developments and trends, adapting as needed to keep our campus and community as safe and healthy as possible.

Many colleges and universities throughout Michigan have now resumed on-campus instruction and activities, and we are regularly sharing best practices and lessons learned with their leadership teams. As I’ve often said, there is no playbook for operating a university through a pandemic, and we are all watching and learning from one another.

Care on campus
CMU now offers COVID-19 on-campus testing for students, faculty and staff. If you wish to be tested, please visit the COVID-19 testing webpage for information about making an appointment. Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please contact CMU Health by calling 989-774-6599 before visiting the testing center.

We are entering flu season, and as part of our ongoing efforts to keep our community healthy, we will offer free flu shots for our campus and community members later this month or in early October. We will have additional details on dates, times and location to share with you next week.

Update on positive cases
To date, CMU has had 196 confirmed positive cases among our students, faculty and staff since June 15. Of these cases, 27 are currently active. This also means 169 individuals have recovered and were cleared to return to classes and the workplace. If you know who these recovered individuals are, I hope you will treat them with the same kindness you offer others as they reenter our community. Receiving a positive test result for COVID-19 does not mean a person should be judged, shamed or shunned for being exposed to the virus. After all, we are a community that cares, and we treat everyone with compassion and respect.

Any one of us could, at some point, receive a call from a contact tracer, and it is vital that we feel safe and comfortable answering their questions honestly and thoroughly. Contact tracing is one of the most important steps we can take to slow the spread of the virus in our community. If you are contacted, please do your part to keep our community safe: Answer questions to the best of your ability and follow all the instructions you receive.

We are about a quarter of the way through this semester, and I am proud of the efforts you have made to make this a successful fall at CMU. Keep up the great work! Thank you for wearing masks, practicing social distancing and taking precautions to keep yourself and others safe.

Be well,
President Davies Signature
Bob Davies, President

Dear students,

Like many of you, we are excited to be back on campus for another academic year at Central Michigan University. COVID-19 has changed nearly everything about the way we live and learn on campus, and we appreciate the sacrifices you are making to enable us to have a successful fall semester.

Thank you for all you are doing to keep our community safe. Thank you for wearing your masks, maintaining safe distance from others and doing your part to protect yourself and others.

Today, we, as CMU’s president and student body president, are writing to ask you to keep it up during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.

Holidays are usually a time to gather with family and friends. However, throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen large gatherings — and even smaller gatherings held without safety precautions — lead to new surges in cases of COVID-19. In the last few months alone, celebrations for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July weekends were linked with spikes in new positive cases across the country.

We’ve worked too hard to stop now. We have the power to slow the spread of this virus on CMU’s campus, in the Mount Pleasant community and among our family and friends. Each of us can do our part by:

  • Staying home or limiting travel to visits with small groups of close family or friends.
  • Avoiding parties and gatherings.
  • Wearing our masks and practicing social distancing.

This hasn’t been easy, and we know it’s disappointing to have another holiday disrupted by COVID-19, but there are signs of hope. Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases, said Labor Day weekend could give the country a “running start” to contain the virus this fall. We, too, remain optimistic.

We are a resilient community, and we will get through this together. It’s up to us to keep ourselves and our community safe. Please, celebrate Labor Day safely.

Fire Up and Mask Up,

Bob Davies, CMU President
Katie Prebelich, SGA President

Dear students, faculty and staff,

We’ve reached the end of our second week of classes, and I want to express my gratitude to all of you who have truly embraced the spirit of “We Do Community.” You have been wearing masks, practicing social distancing and taking other precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Thank you very much for all you are doing.

To date, we are aware of approximately 100 positive cases among our campus community of nearly 18,000 students, faculty and staff since our return to campus. While any increase in cases may seem alarming, this figure represents less than one percent of our university population, and the majority of these cases remain linked to the three off-campus houses I mentioned earlier in the week.

In this message, I want to share some important information on the following, which I hope will alleviate concerns you may have:

  • Reporting positive cases of COVID-19 in our campus community.
  • On-campus COVID testing.
  • Contact tracing with the Central Michigan District Health Department.
  • Our decision-making process.
  • Allowing residential students to end their housing contract without penalty.
  • Caring for yourself and others.

Reporting positive cases

We are working closely with our partners at the Central Michigan District Health Department to report new cases of COVID-19 within our university community. You may have noticed that the numbers CMU reports on the confirmed cases website are different from the numbers shared by the health department. I want to explain why this sometimes occurs.

Each day, the health department releases cases they believe are associated with our return to the Mount Pleasant area. CMU staff review the list and determine if the individuals named are current students or employees. Often, the health department’s list includes cases that are not current CMU students, faculty or staff; we do not include those cases in our count as they are not actively present on our campus.

Our Emergency Management Team is working diligently to ensure we’re reporting positive cases within our university community in a timely manner. In partnership with the health department, we have identified a process to expedite reporting and identify positive cases connected with CMU. Beginning Tuesday, Sept.1, we will update our new cases page daily instead of weekly.

On-campus testing for COVID-19

Beginning next week, we will offer on-campus COVID-19 testing. We have selected a lower-level room in Foust Hall to conduct testing, well-ventilated and separated from other offices. We will prioritize testing for individuals who are symptomatic or who have been identified as close contacts for a COVID-positive person. For information about testing, please visit the COVID-19 testing webpage.

Contact tracing

Contact tracing is one of the most critical steps in limiting the spread of COVID-19. I am extremely proud of the work being done by CMU health professions students, faculty and staff to assist the Central Michigan District Health Department in this effort.

Remember: If you are called by a contact tracer, please answer as honestly and completely as possible, and follow their instructions regarding testing, isolation or quarantine.

Our decision-making process

I have been asked several times what would trigger CMU to shift to remote-only instruction. Our goal is to continue in-person instruction for as long as we feel we are able to manage and mitigate risk related to COVID-19. If we feel we are no longer able to do so, we will shift.

Together with our Emergency Management Team, I am reviewing several data points daily, including:

  • Percentage of CMU cases in our campus community and the number of CMU cases as a percentage of counts in the overall region.
  • Cases connected with clusters/pockets versus community spread.
  • Capacity of our quarantine/isolation residence hall.
  • Overall trend lines of new cases connected to CMU and of new cases in the greater community unrelated to CMU.

At this point, we are not seeing community spread from existing cases. The data seems to uphold our decision to continue to offer in-person instruction. We will continue to monitor this virus closely and to work alongside our partners in the health department and local government to make decisions about our operations. Health and safety will remain our top priorities.

No-fee residential contract cancellation

Residential students who are enrolled in all-online courses or who have arranged with their faculty to participate in their HyFlex classes remotely and wish to return home may end their housing contract at any time during the fall semester without paying the $500 contract cancellation fee. Students are responsible for paying a prorated daily amount, covering meals, FLEX dollars and housing costs, for the time they have lived on campus. Students who live in a residence hall or university apartment may contact their residence director/residence hall director to schedule a checkout time.

Take care, and thank you

These are stressful times, and I am cognizant of the physical, mental and emotional toll this pandemic has taken on every member of our community. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. Students can contact the CMU Counseling Center, and faculty and staff can connect with resources through the Employee Assistance Program. It’s vital to make time to take care of yourself and your families.

This is also a time to treat others with extra patience and grace. Reach out to your friends and colleagues to offer a listening ear and a virtual hug when they need your support. We are a community that lifts each other up, and I am thankful every day for the kindnesses I see happening everywhere across our campus.

I will continue to provide frequent updates as we move forward together. Thank you again for all you are doing for CMU and for each other.

Be well,
Pleasident Davies Signature
Bob Davies, president

Dear students,

In response to a sharp increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases within our student population, the Central Michigan District Health Department issued a public health emergency order restricting outdoor social gatherings.

Effective immediately, no more than 25 people may gather at outdoor events in the Mount Pleasant area — specifically within Union Township and the city of Mount Pleasant. Indoor gatherings remain limited to 10 people or fewer per the existing Michigan Executive Order.

Local law enforcement, including the CMU Police Department, and CMU will be monitoring student gatherings, and violations of these limits may result in a misdemeanor charge, fine and even suspension from CMU.

We know that increases in positive COVID-19 cases follow large parties, and no one wants to become infected or be responsible for infecting others. Please be safe. Avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands. We all share the responsibility to keep ourselves and our community safe.

Take Care,

Tony Voisin
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Students, faculty and staff —

As you know, Central Michigan University has been planning for its return to campus for several months. Part of this planning has involved preparing for an inevitable increase in positive cases of COVID-19, and we have processes in place to address these new cases.

Since our students began to arrive last week, CMU has seen a substantial increase in its COVID-19 positivity rate among students. Over the past seven days, we have had 54 new COVID-19 cases in our campus community. Particularly concerning are pockets of positive cases and symptomatic individuals living off-campus — two in Greek-affiliated houses and one in an additional large house north of campus.

We quickly identified and instructed these individuals to isolate or quarantine. We are working closely with the Central Michigan District Health Department on contact tracing, which is a critical step in mitigating further spread of the virus. Individuals who are identified as close contacts are being directed to quarantine and are receiving daily monitoring calls from both the Michigan system for contact tracing and CMU’s team of contact tracers.

Fortunately, most students who tested positive have demonstrated only mild symptoms. As a reminder, CMU tracks the number of positive COVID-19 cases within our campus community and updates the information on our Fired Up for Fall site every Monday.

We met this morning with our partners from the city of Mount Pleasant, Isabella County, Union Township and the CMDHD to discuss this increase in numbers and our approach to managing the safety of our community. We will continue to communicate and work closely with these partners as we move forward.

In response to these new cases, we have strongly increased our safety messaging to students and are taking steps to proactively prevent further spread, including:

  • Directing all Greek organizations to suspend all in-person activities.
  • Working with landlords and apartment complex managers to enforce limits on gatherings.
  • Fining, and even suspending, individuals who host and attend large gatherings moving forward through our Office of Student Conduct.
  • Partnering with a private company, Helix, to begin on-campus testing within the next week for individuals who have been identified as symptomatic or close contacts. Student-athletes also will be tested as required by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. We will share additional details about this testing soon.

As we strive to prevent further spread of the virus, I again ask everyone to avoid large parties and gatherings. As I recommended previously, please limit all indoor gatherings to fewer than 10 individuals and outdoor gatherings to no more than 15-20.

I am aware of the videos circulating on social media that show me engaging with students at off-campus parties, which may have given the impression that I condoned those gatherings. That was certainly not my intent. That weekend, I rode along with officers from the CMU Police Department and visited a number of gatherings to remind students to wear masks, practice social distancing and to celebrate responsibly. I wanted to reiterate that message as often and in as many settings as possible..

Along our route, I was invited to throw a few bags of cornhole, and I spent a few minutes engaging with those students and reminding them to be safe. In retrospect, I see that my participation in the game — regardless of my intent — sent mixed messages about the importance of avoiding large gatherings, and I apologize for the confusion and concerns my actions caused. As a leader and lifelong learner, I will occasionally make mistakes; when I do, I endeavor to learn from them. As our students have asked of me, I will “do better.”

Remaining on campus this fall relies on every member of our community accepting the responsibility to protect ourselves and others. The activities we engage in — both on and off our campus — have repercussions for everyone who lives, learns and works at CMU and in our local community.

Here’s how you can do your part:

  • Remember to wash your hands, wear a mask, practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings. Use the CMU Health Screen app or website every day before you come to campus or leave your campus residence.
  • If you recently attended a large gathering, please monitor your health closely, and report any symptoms immediately using the Health Screen app or by calling CMU Student Health Services at 989-774-6599.
  • If you receive a call or message from a contact tracer, please respond immediately and honestly. Contact tracing is a critical part of slowing the spread of COVID-19 and is only effective if everyone fully cooperates in the process.

If you have been directed to quarantine, please monitor your symptoms carefully, and do not return to campus until you have completed the quarantine and are cleared by your contact tracer.

While we cannot eradicate every instance of COVID-19, together we can slow the spread of the virus in our community. Please, do your part to keep yourself and others safe.

Be well,
President Davies Signature
Bob Davies, president

Dear students,

Being on campus this semester carries new responsibilities for us all. The majority of students are taking these responsibilities seriously; however, a small minority of students are jeopardizing their own health and safety, and that of others, with their actions off campus.

Attending large parties and ignoring safety guidelines increases the risk of COVID-19 transmission for everyone who lives, learns and works on our campus and in our community. We will not allow the actions of a few individuals to jeopardize others, and we will immediately fine, or even suspend, individuals who host or attend large gatherings.

Without fail, at other institutions nationwide, large weekend parties have resulted in an increase in positive COVID-19 diagnoses — and in some, the shutdown of their entire campuses. The actions of a few selfish students have ruined an entire year for thousands of their peers. The same will happen here at CMU if students continue to engage in this type of reckless, irresponsible behavior.

CMU’s Fired Up for Fall plan, which is based on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, outlines our expectations and rules. You all know the right things to do: Limit the size of your get-togethers, wear a mask and practice social distancing. It is impossible to ask you not to socialize, yet I must ask you again to do so responsibly. You are adults, and we expect you to take responsibility for your actions. Remember: What you do matters.

Your choices carry repercussions for everyone at CMU, and we expect more from our students. Please, choose wisely.

Tony Voisin
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Dear students, colleagues and friends,

Earlier this week, UNC Chapel Hill was forced to shift to remote-only instruction only two weeks after moving students onto campus and beginning classes. Just yesterday, Michigan State University announced plans to hold classes remotely instead of in-person. These decisions by other institutions raise a pointed question: Will Central Michigan University be next?

I remain hopeful that we can have a successful fall semester here at CMU. To do so, we must all accept our shared responsibility for keeping our community safe and healthy — and this means embracing best practices for health and safety both on and off campus.

Students: I know you want to, and will, spend time with your friends — humans are social creatures and we thrive on feeling connected to others. However, this is not the year to hold large parties. It is the year for smaller, socially distant get-togethers with close friends. When you gather with friends, do so responsibly: Wear a mask, maintain social distance, wash your hands often and limit the size of the group to no more than 10 people inside and perhaps 15-20 outside if you can socially distance and wear masks. I promise you: It is possible to have fun and be safe at the same time.

For our faculty and staff: Just as we ask our students to practice safe behaviors, we, too, must be willing to embrace them in our lives outside the workplace. We must be vigilant in our personal lives as well as in our professional roles.

COVID-19 is a highly contagious virus, and it is inevitable that we will see additional cases on our campus in the weeks ahead. If we wish to limit the number of cases, our actions must be intentional. If we want to prevent an outbreak and avoid a shift to remote operations, we must share the responsibility of protecting ourselves and others.

Please, join me in making this a safe, healthy and successful semester at CMU.

Be well,

Bob Davies, CMU President

Dear students,

In just a few short days, we’ll begin a new academic year at Central Michigan University — one like no previous year in our more than 125-year history. COVID-19 continues to pose unique challenges, and CMU — like all organizations — is reacting daily to new developments and adapting to fluid circumstances.

I know you have questions about what this fall semester will be like at CMU— it’s completely understandable to feel a little anxious and uncertain. To address some of your concerns, I’d like to share a few thoughts on what to expect when classes resume next week related to:

  • The look and feel of campus.
  • How classes will be held.
  • Preparing for a successful semester.
  • Staying Fired Up during this pandemic.

The look and feel of campus

To protect the health and safety of our campus community, CMU is following best practices from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of COVID-19. This means everyone will be required to wear a mask or face covering and practice social distancing. You’ll find hand sanitizing stations in every building, as well as signs reminding you to wash your hands and practice other safe behaviors. We are committed to doing everything we can as a university to protect your health and safety, and we also rely on you to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Please be sure to review the health and safety protocols outlined on the Fired Up for Fall website.

The Mid-American Conference recently announced a postponement of all fall sports with hopes of moving them to the spring. This news was disappointing for me and many members of our community, yet I remain optimistic we will be able to cheer on our student-athletes later this academic year. You can read more about the MAC’s decision in my recent blog post.

The residence halls will feel less crowded this year. To allow for social distancing and to decrease density in each building, we have limited the number of students living in each building. In addition, some students attending all their classes remotely have chosen to live at home this semester. Residential restaurants and other dining facilities on campus have been reconfigured to allow for social distancing, including less capacity and reduced seating in some areas. You’ll find many options for great meals on campus.

We continue to follow state orders to limit indoor and outdoor gatherings, which means many campus events and activities are moving to virtual formats. Some registered student organizations also may limit attendance at meetings or host them virtually. I am impressed by the creativity and innovation our students show in finding ways to connect and build community in spite of social distancing. You will still feel the energy and excitement of life at Central as you walk through our campus, despite the many changes.

Classes will be held in new formats

To give students and faculty as many choices as possible this semester, CMU will offer classes in several formats, including online only, HyFlex, hybrid and face to face. You can learn more about each type of class by visiting the Fired Up for Fall student information page. No matter how you attend class, you will learn from faculty who are experts in their fields and who are excited to support you on your educational journey. Be sure to connect with them early and often, and take advantage of their office hours.

Preparing for success

As I said previously, this semester will be unlike any other. You will face new challenges, and you will have to learn, live and work differently. I know it won’t be easy, but I know you are up to the task. I believe in you.

As you approach this semester, set high goals for yourself. Don’t settle for just getting by — commit to excellence and work hard to achieve it. Go out of your way to meet new people, whether in person or virtually, and learn to see the world from their perspective. Be open to new ideas and experiences. Ask for help. The pandemic has raised many new challenges and caused significant mental and emotional stress. When you need someone to talk to, or you find yourself struggling, please reach out. You can find a number of resources, including information about CMU’s Counseling Center, on the Find Help webpage.

Finally, embrace our core values: integrity, respect, compassion, inclusiveness, social responsibility, excellence and innovation. Let them be your guide in everything you do each and every day.

Staying Fired Up

I know 2020 hasn’t been an easy year, and there are challenges still ahead. Yet, in spite of all the difficulties you have faced so far, you’ve stayed on the path to earn your college degree. You’ve worked hard and stayed strong, and I am extremely proud of you. I’m excited to see you this fall, and I look forward to getting — and staying — Fired Up for a great academic year.

Be well,
Signature
Bob Davies, president

Dear student:

We are fired up to see many of you on campus next week!

As I mentioned in my email last week, each day you plan to be on campus, or before you leave your apartment or residence hall room, you must first complete a mandatory self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms.

Yes, every day. Don’t worry, it’s easy — you can do it right from your smartphone or tablet. This is critical to keeping our campus healthy this fall.

DOWNLOAD THE CMICH HEALTHSCREEN APP

Log into the app to answer a few short questions. The app will show you a green check mark if you are approved to leave your residence hall room or apartment, or to come to campus.

If you do not have a smartphone or cannot run the Healthscreen app, you must complete the self-screening through a web browser at cmich.edu/healthscreen or by calling 989-774-1044.

We look forward to welcoming you to campus as we all do our part to make the coming weeks and months as positive, healthy and low-risk as possible.

As you prepare to return to campus, please review CMU’s required health and safety protocols on the Fired Up for Fall website. Remember to wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands and avoid large gatherings and parties. If we all take responsibility for our health and well-being, we can help slow the spread of COVID-19 and enjoy a successful semester.

Fire Up Chips!

Tony Voisin, associate vice president, Student Affairs

Dear Student:

We look forward to welcoming you to Central Michigan University next week. As always, your safety and well-being remain our top priority, and we understand that the COVID-19 virus raises many questions and concerns about living on campus this fall.

Just as there is risk of spreading the virus each time we visit the grocery store, stop for gas or visit with friends, there also is a risk associated with coming to CMU’s campus. We are reaching out today to share housing options for the fall semester so you and your family can make an informed choice. We want you to feel as safe and comfortable as possible so you can enjoy a successful fall semester.

Do I have to live on campus if I am a first- or second-year student or I have an Office of Residence Life Housing Contract?

If you are registered for all online classes, instruction does not require you to attend in person, and you have no on-campus obligations, you may cancel your housing contract without penalty.

To cancel your housing contract and live at home (your permanent address) without penalty, send an email to reslife@cmich.edu by 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020. You do not need to fill out a residency exemption form, but you must reference that you are canceling your contract due to COVID-19. Students who cancel after Aug. 11 will be responsible for a $500 contract cancellation fee.

Will I retain my scholarship if I live at home?

Most academic, need-based, merit and other scholarships will not be impacted by a decision to live at home. However, students who receive any form of housing grant will lose those awards if they are not living on campus.

If you have questions about your scholarships and eligibility, please contact the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at 989-774-3674.

What if I need to or want to live on campus?

We have been working hard to prepare for your arrival. We are ready. Living on campus is an integral part of the learning experience; however, we recognize that COVID-19 will impact the traditional housing experience. If you decide to live on campus, we will be here to support your transition and your learning journey.

If the university has to move to all-remote learning at some point in the semester, will on-campus housing (residence halls and on campus apartments) remain open? Will room and board payments be refunded?

Like all other institutions, CMU cannot make operational guarantees during this pandemic. Our full intent is to keep the university open with face-to-face classes and to keep our residence halls and apartments open.

In fact, we did not close any of our housing facilities last spring as we continued to house students who chose to remain on campus. President Bob Davies has been clear that the university will remain open throughout this school year as well. CMU is doing everything it can to continue to serve our students in the face of significant disruption brought on by this pandemic. However, we also realize that this is a very fluid situation, and things can change beyond our control.

In terms of refunds or credits for housing and meals: If CMU is ordered by the governor or the Health Department to have students leave the residence halls, CMU will make financial decisions at that time. In the event of such a closure, we intend to be fair and equitable.

As we have consistently demonstrated throughout this challenging time, the health and safety of our community remains our highest priority. Every decision we make is guided by this principle.

Will I need to quarantine when I come to campus if I am flying or traveling from another state?

At this time, CMU is not requiring students to quarantine upon arrival. However, we encourage students arriving from hot-spot locations to be vigilant about wearing a mask, social distancing, handwashing and avoiding crowds. We also recommend that students limit their contact with others in the days before arriving on campus, if possible.

What if I am traveling to CMU from another country?

Students who are returning from international travel or coming to CMU from another country

Students returning from international travel who plan to live on campus will be expected to reside in quarantine spaces provided by the Office of Residence Life until the 14-day period has expired. Please contact the Office of Residence Life at 989-774-3111 for information about on-campus quarantine housing prior to your arrival.

Fire Up for Fall

Together, the Central Michigan University community is facing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing our educational mission while protecting health and safety. Now we aim to start strong for the fall 2020 semester. For vital information about health and safety protocols, please visit the Fired Up for Fall website.

Please do not hesitate to reach out to our Office of Residence Life with questions or concerns by calling 989-774-3111.

Most sincerely,

Tony Voisin
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs

Greetings from Central Michigan University!

As we prepare to welcome you back to campus this fall, I’d like to ask for your help in making the 2020-21 academic year the best ever at CMU.

During your time on campus, you’ve likely seen and heard this phrase often: At CMU, we Take Care of ourselves and others. Take Care means we look out for one another. We offer kindness and support. We reach out proactively to help. We treat everyone around us, including ourselves, with compassion and respect.

As we continue to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, the phrase Take Care is more important than ever. Nationwide, the virus continues to spread and there is still no vaccine or cure. This means that every time we interact with others, we run the risk of spreading infection, even when we feel healthy. Fortunately, there are simple steps we can all take to protect ourselves and others — and we are adopting these practices at CMU.

When you come to campus, you will be expected to:

  • Practice social distancing, maintaining at least 6 feet between yourself and others.
  • Wear a mask or face covering at all times indoors, as well as outdoors if you cannot maintain safe social distance.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough.
  • Review the Fired Up for Fall website.

Remember, these practices aren’t only to protect yourself — they are meant to protect others as well. We are all in this together, and the health and safety of our entire community depends on everyone being responsible, compassionate and caring.

As some of you know, I am not only the university president, I also am the parent of a current CMU student. I’d like to put on my “dad hat” for a moment and put this very bluntly: Students must take responsibility for protecting their own health and the health of their peers. CMU has put many safety measures in place, but if you, our students, do not accept ownership of your safety and well-being, those measures won’t be effective. Our goal — your goal – is to be on campus this fall. I have heard from hundreds of students that they will do anything to remain on campus with their friends — and that means they must take responsibility for making that happen. Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing. Avoid large gatherings. If you have symptoms, tell someone and we will help you. If you are called by a contact tracer, answer honestly and completely.

If we all take responsibility for our behavior — if we are all committed to keeping our community safe — the likelihood of a successful on-campus semester increases substantially. OK, dad speech over, putting back on my presidential fedora.

Compassion and responsibility are part of CMU’s core values, and I reflect on them often. I ask you to become familiar with them, too. They are: integrity, respect, compassion, inclusiveness, social responsibility, excellence and innovation. We will discuss them regularly this year.

Today, I want to focus on the word “inclusiveness.” At CMU, we define inclusion as: full participation for all in every activity and venue of CMU. It means that every student, faculty and staff member, graduate, guest and visitor feel they can be part of the great things happening on our campus, and they will feel welcome to do so. We cannot achieve excellence if some members of our community do not feel equally seen, heard, represented, included, respected and valued.

Each of us has a role to play in making others feel welcome and valued, and it begins with treating everyone with compassion and respect. Remember the words you likely learned in kindergarten: Treat others as you wish to be treated. Be kind. Be respectful.

Every day at CMU, you meet people whose lives, experiences, beliefs and perspectives are very different than your own. You may feel challenged by the things they say and do, just as they may feel challenged by you. I ask that you embrace the experience of being uncomfortable and open your mind to new points of view. You don’t have to agree, but I ask that you listen, ask respectful questions, seek understanding and act with compassion.

These aren’t just suggestions for making the most of life at Central Michigan University, they are tools and skills that will prepare you to live and work in our increasingly global society. The world is more diverse and connected than ever, and your experiences at Central will help you succeed in life beyond graduation.

I am fired up to see you again this fall. Until then, be well, take care and, as always, Fire Up Chips!

Bob Davies, president