Actual work is starting to come in for me to support efforts to have student life and the curriculum carry on in some shape. After having lived in the same place for over 16 years, some of our friends are also professors. That was the first help conversation today, talking to a not high-tech friend whose video conference connection failed in the middle of a class. This class is a canonical read-and-discuss situation, meaning if the professor is going to hold class in the way they and the students are accustomed to it, they just* need a working video conference. On the other hand, bandwidth and connections are finicky. I gave my thoughts, with the most important one being that maybe the class needs to have a conversation about how the class is going to be a little hinky for the rest of the term.
The other conversation wasn’t a help conversation per se. Each residential college convenes an academic year–long meeting of selected seniors in which the participants present on and discuss their terminal projects over dinner weekly. It’s an interesting program to consider in the time of The Virus. A ruthless look at things would declare it unnecessary. And yet, it’s part of the hundreds of ways that Yale offers inclined students the opportunity to nerd it up. For some (it may have for me) it offers also the chance to play adult a little each week and thus ease them into the post-college world Yale is fashioning them for. The kind of gathering that I see fellow alums having, having foodie meals and talking intellectually or pseudo-intellectually and convincing themselves it’s all Very Important. But I’m not bitter. In any case, this is where I am and if there’s a chance that there are students in these gathering who will really and truly improve the lives of their community and others elsewhere by participating in these convenings, I’m here to help make it happen. For me right now, the support is also a glimpse into how this university-wide move to online life is going to happen or not. My main piece of advice to the Head of College who oversees the coordinators of the several residential colleges’ gatherings, as well as some of the coordinators, was similar to that to my friend before: This is going to be hard. Be a community, have a conversation about how this is not going to go perfectly, have tolerance and forbearance. Specifically here, it occurred to me that they could employ a graded entree into having the meetings online: Start a meeting with a voice-only conversation about how everyone’s doing and feeling, move to showing a pre-recorded presentation by a student on their work with all participants using their video but muted, and then move to a discussion on the work hence with all students unmuted or their muting managed by the designated host. We’ll see.
More directly connected to The Virus, CT’s cases are up to 159 known (tested) positives and one death. We’ve shot up quickly, though relative positives are still possibly more connected to testing levels than actual infection levels. Somehow Rhode Island remains quite low, though it had its first known infection before CT did. The wave is still rising in CT, and my dread is real. Typing that made it a bit realer, but it’s good to acknowledge.