News

3/29/20: Coronavirus updates for GSAS students

Dear MA and PhD students,

I hope you are doing as well as can be expected in this difficult time. In writing weekly bulletins we aim to update you regularly on the changing landscape, and to let you know what we are doing to address the concerns we hear from many of you, to the extent that we can.

We copy on this message —our third— Directors of Graduate Studies and the Master’s Program Directors to underscore that we have all been working together to address the myriad and always unfolding challenges of the second half of the term. As Columbians, New Yorkers, and individuals, we are all under uncommon duress, but our mission to educate and support you remains paramount in our minds.
 

ACADEMICS: COURSEWORK AND DEGREE CONFERRAL

LANGUAGE PLACEMENT / TRANSLATION EXAMS WILL BE HELD:
Language exams will be held as announced. Please contact the department of the language in question to learn more about the particular modifications made for Spring 2020 placement and translation exams.

LATER DEADLINES FOR A MAY 20, 2020 DEGREE CONFERRAL:
To have the degree conferred in May 2020, PhD students must deposit their dissertations by May 22, 2020. MA students must complete coursework in time for their MA programs to submit graduation lists to the Registrar by Thursday, June 4.
 
PASS/FAIL CORRECTION: The Pass/Fail mandate is for all classes; it supersedes all other grading options. This is not the normal Pass/Fail option in which actual grades are submitted and converted to Pass or Fail. NB: There will be no P/D/F in any class, as GSAS initially communicated. Our apologies.
 

ACADEMICS: NEW RESOURCES FOR GRADUATE TEACHING  

The CTL has put together a new resource for graduate student TAs who are teaching or supporting classes that have shifted online. This resource provides an overview of considerations, approaches, and tools. This resource is available as part of CTL’s Contingency Planning: Teaching Online portal. 
 

ACADEMICS: DISSERTATION DISTRIBUTION AND DEFENSE

DISSERTATION DEFENSES HELD REMOTELY:
This week, fully remote dissertation defenses were held for the first time in Art History and Archaeology, Classics, Economics, Mathematics, Physics, Psychology, and Slavic Languages, as well as in doctoral programs in SEAS, Journalism, and Teachers College. Congratulations to our newest PhDs, and particularly for defending successfully their dissertations under these trying circumstances.
 
REMOTE DEFENSE SURVIVAL GUIDE:
Have an upcoming dissertation defense? See Defending a Dissertation by Videoconference, created for public use by newly minted Duke PhD, Ashton Merck.
 
GSAS SUSPENDS REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTFOR SUMMER DISSERTATION DISTRIBUTION:
In light of the extraordinary circumstances we currently face, GSAS will suspend the registration requirement for students who distribute their dissertation during summer 2020. Distribution should occur no later than 8/14. However, students in the Natural Sciences who will be paid from faculty grants during the summer must register as usual during that term in order to receive their salaries.
 

SUMMER PHD FUNDING

GSAS will disburse summer stipends through the same process and schedule as previous years to Humanities, Social Science, Math, and Statistics PhD students in their guaranteed funding years. We continue to process requests for early disbursement of the summer stipend.  Please write to gsas-dean [at] columbia.edu () if you would like to have your summer stipend disbursed earlier that the customary date. You must be enrolled in direct deposit in order to receive a summer stipend.  If you have not yet done so, please see instructions here.
 

COLUMBIA HOUSING

Issues related to housing have been our foremost student-life concern. We are in continuous discussion with Columbia Residential about the various scenarios our students are now in, even as we work to address the emergencies of today.

As you know, the university has not required graduate students to leave campus housing or the Columbia community during this time of disruption. Columbia Residential has allowed students the choice to remain in housing, to leave temporarily and sublet, or to move out and break their lease without penalty.

We are aware that these options have not been equally feasible given the circumstances in which students find themselves currently, especially the move-out option. Some students left for a number of reasons, perhaps intending to return soon, and left behind their belongings or furnished rooms; others planned to sublet their apartment for the summer, which may seem now an increasingly unrealistic prospect.

GSAS has confirmed that students who left Columbia housing before their eligibility expired and who wish to return to university housing in the future will be given priority status at the time of reentry. 

Columbia Residential has asked that we compile a list of students who left their apartments either temporarily or permanently and who have a variety of related difficulties, such as belongings or furniture left behind, or inability to continue paying rent for empty apartments while living somewhere else. Your DGSs and MA Program Directors have been instrumental in helping us compile such a list, so that Columbia Residential may begin to contact students to address these issues.

We are aware that many of you have questions about summer sublets, which we hope to be able to bring to the attention of Columbia Residential after the issues of immediate urgency of March and April have been addressed satisfactorily.
 

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING: REMINDER

If you have the Aetna Columbia Student Health Insurance Plan, you have national and international coverage. Please see here for more information, and contact Columbia Health and CUIMC Student Health Service for questions about referrals.  You will find additional resources below:

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: ISSO IS OPERATIONAL

ISSO is still your best resource for questions about your student status, travel, employment, and taxes. The staff is working remotely, but ISSO is operational and will continue to respond to email, process online applications, mail documents, and update website information. Go to the ISSO COVID-19 Hub for ISSO operations, FAQs, and updates.

Be well; stay well.

Sincerely,

Carlos J. Alonso, Dean
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences