Dear Scarlet Knights,
Welcome to the Fall 2021 Semester! On behalf of the Division of Student Affairs, I am thrilled to welcome our new students to–and our returning students back to–the Banks of the Raritan. Having students back on campus has been reinvigorating for all of us.
In a typical year, college is a time to explore new experiences, discover new talents, learn about unfamiliar cultures and religions, and form new friendships. The past year and a half, though, have been far from typical. Whether your education has recently been remote or in-person, the pandemic has altered how we interact with one another. The college experience may expose you to a lot of new social experiences and because we may have all been cooped up during the pandemic, we need to be more mindful of the impact our actions have on others.
Through a survey administered last spring semester, we learned that 70 percent of students had difficulty learning effectively online and 81 percent suffered from the lack of interactions with other students. While you are likely feeling very excited for in-person classes and activities, we are all still reeling from the past year and a half and may need to reacclimate to in-person interactions. I invite you to review the key findings of the Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership to gain a better understanding of your peers’ experiences and challenges during COVID-19. If you find yourself relating to some of the findings, click on the Student Success website, which highlights important university resources for students.
Academic success and positive social engagement are essential to how the Division of Student Affairs plans programs and delivers our services. In addition to the resources available on the Student Success website, departments such as Recreation, Student Health, Counseling, Dean of Students, Off-Campus Living, Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance, Cultural Centers, and Graduate Student Life offer many events and services to support your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. A full list of Student Affairs resources available to you may be found at studentaffairs.rutgers.edu/resources.
I’d like to reiterate what Chancellor-Provost Conway stated in her message last week: your health and safety are our highest priority. I want to thank you for your compliance with the vaccination mandate or weekly testing protocol (if you received an exemption). The safety and wellbeing of our community is also a shared responsibility. As we continue to navigate the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, please help us maintain the on-campus experience to which we have been looking forward. We must continue to be vigilant and careful by wearing face coverings indoors, maintaining appropriate distance, and following the recommended university guidelines for COVID safety.
When I look back on my college years, I do so with pride; I want you to say the same about Rutgers. We will continue to be there for you to support your journey as a Scarlet Knight. If there is anything my Student Affairs team or I can do to help you, I welcome the opportunity to connect you with the appropriate resources. I hold office hours for students every Friday from 10:00 a.m. to noon to discuss any issue or concerns you may have, or if you simply want to have a meet and greet; you may schedule an appointment by completing this form.
Finally, I leave you with a reminder about the Knight’s Call and the responsibility that we all have to ourselves, each other, and the broader Rutgers community to uphold what it means to be a Scarlet Knight.
Wishing you a successful semester!
Salvador B. Mena, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs
Rutgers University–New Brunswick