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Seaver College Fall 2020 Semester Update

July 9, 2020

I am grateful for your patience and understanding as we continue to define the path forward for Seaver College amidst the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. I write today to provide guidance regarding our decisions for the fall 2020 semester at Seaver College.

Three principles guided our decision-making process. First, our highest priority is to preserve and protect the health, safety, and well-being of every current and future member of the Seaver community. For this reason, every decision has been informed by reputable scientific evidence and expert guidance from the State of California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (L.A. County Public Health), and medical consultants. Secondly, our response to the pandemic must be fully aligned with our Christian mission and uphold community values. Finally, the uncertainty of the pandemic demands granting individuals the respect to self-assess the current situation and the autonomy to exercise choice.

For the fall semester, Seaver College will reopen its campus while providing students flexibility in how they engage the curriculum and participate in learning regardless of their residential location.

Instructional Format

Seaver students will have multiple options to select from in choosing how they wish to participate in fall semester courses. Options will range from attending in-person classes on the Malibu campus, fully online courses, or a mixture of both in-person and online class meetings. Additionally, some on-campus classes will require attendance at the scheduled days/times while others will provide options for remote/online instruction with consideration provided to students distant from campus.

Presently the college is working with faculty to determine the delivery mode for each course. When add/drop resumes and new student registration begins, all students will have the option of selecting a course schedule based on delivery modality as well as the course content and schedule. While it is not possible to offer every course with multiple modes of delivery, we anticipate that sufficient variety will exist to allow all students to continue timely progress toward degree completion. The college will provide detailed instructions regarding course delivery options and the add/drop or registration process in forthcoming guidance messages.

International Programs

Due to entry restrictions imposed by the European Union, Switzerland, and Argentina; curtailed travel options; quarantine requirements; restricted occupancy; local conditions; guidance from program directors; and our care for the student experience, the following international programs are suspended in the fall 2020 semester:

  • Buenos Aires
  • Florence
  • Heidelberg
  • Lausanne
  • London

The fall 2020 Shanghai program was suspended by Pepperdine earlier this summer. Because these programs are being suspended by the University, students will not be charged any IP withdrawal fees.

The Washington, DC program will continue to operate as planned and in accordance with all academic guidance and policies related to the University's Malibu campus.

We understand that the decision to suspend most fall semester international programs is disappointing. International programs are an important part of the Seaver College experience, and we look forward to resuming these valuable cultural learning opportunities in the spring 2021 semester. We have been closely monitoring the conditions at each IP location throughout the year, and it recently became evident that suspending the aforementioned programs was required to uphold our commitment to prioritize the safety and well-being of all program participants. As you continue in your academic experience at Pepperdine, I hope that you will continue to engage with international programs and seek an opportunity to participate in a study abroad experience in a future semester. Presently we are considering options to allow for greater student participation in summer 2021 and will provide updates as the academic year progresses.

Seaver College is committed to ensuring the continued progress toward degree completion for all students whose international program has been suspended. We will do this by providing course offerings that fulfill degree requirements in both general education and academic major programs for all IP students on the Malibu campus. Students currently enrolled in any of the suspended programs should take the following actions:

  • Create an Alternative Course Plan - Students will be withdrawn from their program and fall IP courses before the add/drop period reopens on July 27. IP students will receive priority class registration when add/drop resumes (see Add/Drop section below). Prior to that date, students may reach out to their faculty advisor, academic division, or onestop@pepperdine.edu for academic advising assistance.
  • Register for On-campus Housing - As detailed in the "Housing" section of this message, sophomores may reside in an on-campus residence hall, at home, or in an off-campus arrangement. Students desiring to live on campus may begin the room reservation process by accessing the housing portal. Please contact housing@pepperdine.edu for further assistance.
  • Enrollment Deferral and Visas - At this time Seaver College is planning to operate all spring 2021 international programs pending an improvement in conditions. Fall 2020 and academic year 2020–2021 IP students have the option of deferring their planned enrollment to spring 2021, but not to summer 2021 or future academic years.

Deferments to spring 2021 for students who previously signed an IP contract for the full 2020–2021 academic year are guaranteed. Academic year 2020–2021 students must sign a new spring 2021 contract by August 31, 2020 in order to confirm their space. Students who have signed a contract for fall 2020 and who request to defer to spring 2021 will be considered on a space-available basis and placed on a spring 2021 waitlist.

Additional information about spring semester visas will be forthcoming.

  • International Students Enrolled in International Programs - Please notify Office of International Student Services (OISS) personnel of your adjusted plans for fall 2020

All students enrolled in the Washington, DC program will receive forthcoming guidance from the IP office within the next week. All Washington, DC students are required to reside in the program facility.

International Student Guidance

The college's updated academic plan allows international students to either stay in their home country and enroll in online courses or return to Malibu and enroll in courses of their choosing.

We are unsure at this time if the SEVIS record of international students who choose not to return to the US and enroll in online courses will remain active. Consequently, these students may be required to obtain a new SEVIS record and I-20 from the Office of International Student Services (OISS) and pay a new SEVIS fee prior to the semester of their return.

The University was surprised to learn of the July 6 update provided by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Without question, the determination that international students currently living or planning to live in the US for fall 2020 may not take a full course load of only online courses will create hardship for some students. In this update, ICE/SEVP announced,

"Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The US Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will US Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings."

The new ICE SEVP rule indicates that international students residing in the United States must have in-person classes or a combination of in-person classes and online classes and all of these classes must allow for normal progress in their degree program. Seaver College intends to support residential international students by offering in-person and hybrid (or mixed mode) courses in the fall semester. By enrolling in a mix of in-person, hybrid, and online classes that allow for normal progress toward degree completion, all international students living in the US will be able to comply with the updated ICE/SEVP ruling. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with OneStop or an academic advisor before enrolling in fall semester courses to ensure compliance with this new rule.

OISS will be providing updated and detailed guidance to all international students in the near future. All questions regarding an international student's enrollment or immigration status should be directed to OISS. International students are asked to remain in close contact with OISS and provide updates on their fall semester plans. Most importantly, students affected by this ruling can be assured that Pepperdine will continue to monitor the situation and act in ways that support the continued enrollment of our students.

Athletes

Student-athletes will be receiving an update from the Athletics department concerning return to campus protocols and timeline. All questions regarding athletics should be directed to your coach or the Athletics department staff.

Academic Calendar

The fall 2020 semester academic calendar is finalized and unchanged from prior guidance. The first day of classes is August 17 and students should follow the guidance of the Housing and Residence Life office regarding their move-in date. During the semester, classes will proceed without a travel break and conclude on Thursday, November 19. Final exams will be conducted on November 20, 21, 23, and 24. Please review the final exam schedule for details. Students should not make travel plans for November until they have finalized their fall semester course schedule and reviewed the final exam schedule.

Presently Seaver anticipates the spring 2021 semester beginning on February 8, proceeding without a spring break, ending on May 20, and concluding with the commencement ceremony on May 22. As the fall semester approaches, we will continue to update you as we finalize the spring 2021 academic calendar and our plans for the summer 2021 sessions.

This revised academic calendar minimizes student travel between semesters, limits travel during the academic semesters, and allows residential students to be away from campus from late November to early February during the cold and flu season. The slightly delayed start to the spring semester hopefully also provides time for the development and implementation of effective COVID-19 treatment and vaccination programs.

Add/Drop and Registration

The aforementioned changes necessitate additional preparation to finalize the fall schedule. Students should plan for the following schedule for add/drop to reopen as they consider making adjustments to an existing course schedule.

July 27, 8 AM–5 PM Students registered for a fall semester international program
July 28, 8 AM–Noon Athletes and debate students; returning graduate students
July 28, 1 PM–5 PM Seniors (more than 89 completed credit hours)
July 29, 8 AM–Noon Juniors (60–89 completed credit hours)
July 29, 1 PM–5 PM Sophomores (30–59 completed credit hours)
July 30, 8 AM–10 AM Continuing students (29 or fewer completed credit hours)

Students registering for the first time at Seaver College will be provided a date and time to register for classes in accordance with the following schedule.

July 30, 8 AM–10 AM Incoming Seaver graduate students
July 30, 10 AM–Noon New transfer student registration
July 30, 1 PM–5 PM First-year student registration
July 31, 8 AM–5 PM First-year student registration continues

Housing

Aligned with the principles that guided the college's decision making, students will have a choice in where they reside during the fall 2020 semester.

  • First-year and new transfer students who intend to take any classes in-person have two options:
    1. Reside on campus in a residence hall either in a double room (standard rate applies) or a single room (standard rate plus 15%).
    2. Reside off campus, presumably at home, for the fall semester.
  • First-year and new transfer students who intend to take all of their courses online must live off campus, presumably at home. Students seeking an exception to reside in on-campus housing while enrolling in only online courses may do so by contacting housing@pepperdine.edu and stating the reason for the request. Students should be aware that the University on-campus residency requirement for first-year and new transfer students may be enforced in the spring 2021 semester depending on conditions.
  • Sophomores and continuing second-year students have two options:
    1. Reside on campus in a residence hall either in a double room (standard rate applies) or a single room (standard rate plus 15%).
    2. Reside in any off-campus arrangement. Students who choose to live off campus in the fall 2020 semester will need to cancel their housing contract (see details below). As these students will likely be required to sign longer term leases, they will not be required to return to on-campus housing for the spring 2021 semester.
  • Juniors, seniors, and Seaver graduate students may reside in any off-campus arrangement, at home or on campus. On-campus housing for these students is pending availability. If space is available on campus, students may reside in either a double room (standard rate applies) or a single room (standard rate plus 15% applies to rooms that are typically assigned as double occupancy).

Housing and Residence Life (HRL) is working to balance our commitment to provide on-campus living while promoting public health and safety during the pandemic. To reduce the number of people living on campus during the fall 2020 semester, HRL urges all junior, senior, and graduate students who can make alternate housing arrangements to please do so. For cancellations occurring before July 16, all contract cancellation fees will be waived.

Students electing to cancel their on-campus housing for the fall 2020 semester must submit a cancellation request through the housing portal no later than Wednesday, July 15 to avoid financial penalty. Students cancelling their housing contract beginning July 16 are subject to regular cancellation fees ($700 from July 16 to August 1; $800 from August 1 to August 17; $900 thereafter). The "cancellation request" page may be found after the "application status" page in the 2020–2021 academic year application.

No additional forms or documentation are required and all cancellation requests will be processed promptly. HRL has compiled a list of off-campus housing options for interested students. All students wanting to contract for a single room (standard rate plus 15%) should complete this form by Wednesday, July 15.

Based on current information from state and local public health agencies, the University does not anticipate limitations on residential density. At the same time, students and families should be aware that if conditions change, limitations may be imposed by these agencies and/or recommended by the University's medical consultants. If the University acts in the interest of community safety to limit housing to one student per bedroom in residence halls, suites, and apartments, housing contracts may be terminated for certain student populations (possibly, graduate students, seniors, and juniors). Pepperdine remains hopeful that the termination of any housing contract will not be necessary. However, should the University need to act, HRL will inform each affected student as soon as possible and in advance of contract termination. Contract termination fees will not be assessed in this case.

Room assignments and move-in time slots for all first-year students will be released on Friday, July 17. HRL understands that travel plans are dependent on this information, but asks for patience and understanding as we respond to changing conditions and do everything possible to support on-campus residency for students.

Tuition

Seaver College and Pepperdine University recognize that many of our students and their families have been affected significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our institution and our people have experienced these same negative effects. At the same time, our commitment to providing each student a premier educational and residential experience of his or her choosing during the pandemic has required significant institutional investment beyond a normal academic year. After considered deliberation, Seaver College's tuition will remain unchanged from the previously published amount of $28,875 in the fall semester. The Student Government Association Campus Life Fee—which supports Inter Club Council, Student Government Association, Student Programming Board, Student Wellness Advisory Board, as well as on- and off-campus programming—will be $63 in the fall 2020 semester.

To support students and families during this unprecedented time, the University has an appeal process for those with documented special circumstances. For more information on how to submit an appeal for additional financial assistance toward tuition costs review the Special Circumstances page.

New January Winter Session

Seaver College plans to leverage the extended winter break and offer a four-week intensive January session. This session will begin on January 4 and conclude on January 29. At this time, our plan is to offer only online courses during the January session; however, conditions permitting, we hope to be able to offer some in-person classes, as well as study abroad, undergraduate research, internship, and other similar special programs. We will keep students updated on January session offerings as conditions change and our plans progress.

To further support students and their families, the January session will be offered with special pricing. All students who enroll in flat rate tuition in the fall semester will be able to enroll in a maximum of four (4) credit hours of classes at the rate of $250 per credit hour. Due to the special pricing provided to students during the January session, additional institutional aid is unavailable, but students may qualify for federal and state aid. The college is hopeful that students use the January term to advance their academic success and maintain full progress toward degree completion.

Appreciation and Future Decisions

We appreciate the patience and understanding of our students and their families throughout the summer. We know that you have sought the definitive information provided in this message, and we have longed to provide it to you. At the same time, waiting until today to announce fall semester decisions has allowed us to respond to conditions that have changed materially since mid-May. Further, our decisions are now informed by current guidance, guidance that has changed significantly over the past several weeks.

The decisions announced in this message will guide our actions as we prepare for the fall semester. At the same time, we will remain vigilant and continue to carefully monitor COVID-19 conditions nationally, locally, and on all Pepperdine campuses. The health, safety, and well-being of the Pepperdine community will remain our highest priority, and it will continue to be the primary factor that guides our decision making. We hope and pray that future revision to these decisions will not be required. Nonetheless, every student, parent, staff, and faculty member can be fully confident that if conditions require us to act, we will do so swiftly.

Acknowledgments

These decisions reflect the intellect, wisdom, and concern of a selfless group of individuals that I am privileged to consider as both colleagues and friends. While reluctant to name individuals, the leadership provided by President Gash, Provost Marrs, and Vice Presidents Phil Phillips and Connie Horton has been inspiring and critical to these decisions. As always, I am indebted to the selfless individuals—Kendra Killpatrick, Kristy Collins, Beth Laux, Kindalee De Long, Paul Begin, Dana Dudley, Nicole Marrs, Grace Hall, Abigail Ramsey, and many others—who support me in leading Seaver College. Their skill, insight, dedication, and sacrificial service to Seaver College reflect the best of our mission. I am blessed to serve alongside them.

While the contributions of many informed these decisions, they are mine alone. All questions or concerns may be directed to me at seaver.dean@pepperdine.edu.

Closing

Without question, the fall semester will be different than previous semesters. We will wear face coverings, maintain physical distance, and sacrifice freedoms to provide safety to others. Campus classrooms, dining, and recreation will be altered, and some of our friends and colleagues will be far away. Each of us can view all pandemic required adaptations as losses or we can understand that each provides an opportunity for us to learn anew. I don't understand why COVID-19 has manifested itself upon our world and its people, but each of us alone determines how we respond.

My challenge to the Seaver community is to acknowledge that we are an educational community, a Christian university, and to use this knowledge to guide our learning and understanding, both inside and outside the classroom, during the fall semester. Regardless of where we reside, let's discover new ways to engage, to study, and to play. Let's commit to persevering when the skies darken and to celebrating when the sun shines. Let's discover new ways to worship and serve that honor both our Lord and our neighbor. Finally, let's pledge to be a source of light to one another so that collectively the light of the Pepperdine community serves as a beacon of hope to our nation and the world. We have been blessed with lemons; let's enjoy the wonderful lemonade we can make together!

I wish you the very best in the remaining weeks of summer. Please continue to be well and stay safe. You remain in my prayers.