College will pay student employees through the end of the semester, postpones graduation and senior week festivities

On April 7, Dean of the College Karlene Burrell-McRae ‘94 sent an email to the Colby community announcing that students with on-campus jobs would be paid for the rest of the semester. This decision comes amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic and the College’s March 12 order that all able students leave Mayflower Hill. 

“There were many people involved in thinking through this process. President Greene and CFO Doug Terp and his team all played significant roles,” Dean Burrell-McRae stated in a recent email to the Echo. “What was most important was that we always kept in mind the question, what could we do to effectively support students so they can do their best to focus on their studies under these extraordinary circumstances? It was an opportunity to use our resources to address some issues of equity and remind students we are committed to their future.”

Students who qualify will receive payment as a part of their room and board reimbursement for the second half of the spring semester. According to Burrell-McRae, the amount will be calculated based on the average number of hours students spent at work prior to mid-March, and will not exceed 15 hours a week. 

“I heard from many students that they appreciated the gesture, and many shared the impact this act will have on their lives as they try to complete the semester from home,” Dean Burrell-McRae said. “Some faculty and staff members also shared that they were pleased we were able to support students in this way and remarked that it was a compassionate decision.” 

Indeed, one Colby senior who had been employed as a tutor at the Farnham Writers’ Center expressed her gratitude in a recent interview with the Echo. 

“I appreciate the effort they’re making to help us out even when we’re not on campus,” she said

According to Dean Burrell-McRae, Colby is not the only institution that is supporting previously employed students, however, she is unaware of many other schools implementing similar policy. 

Additionally, on April 9, President of the College David Greene announced via email that senior week and graduation festivities would be postponed until further notice. Class reunions will also be delayed. 

“It has become evident that it would not be safe to call the Class of 2020 and its families together in Waterville on Memorial Day weekend,” President Greene stated in an email to the student body. “However, that does nothing to diminish our commitment to identifying a time when we can hold a proper commencement and the celebratory activities that accompany it (including senior week activities, if possible) when it is safe for people to travel and gather to recognize the members of this senior class.”

One graduating senior noted her disappointment, but overall satisfaction, with President Greene’s course of action. 

“I really appreciated how [he] stressed in his email that we will be getting a physical commencement when it’s safe to gather and celebrate as a group again,” she said. 

President Greene also explained that he is working with senior class leaders and faculty members alike to devise an alternate plan in which to celebrate the College’s graduates on May 24. 

“[We] are eager to find a creative and poignant way to mark the moment on the weekend in May that has long been on our calendars,” Greene stated. “This would not be a virtual graduation ceremony; rather, it would be a way for us to connect from wherever we are in the world and acknowledge the talents and achievements of the class.”

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