President Pastides provides update on decision to cancel classes

Carolina students and families:

I hope this email finds you all tonight a bit more comforted with some confidence in the activities of the coming days. As you no doubt are aware, earlier today we made the very difficult decision to cancel classes on the Columbia campus through Friday, Oct. 9.

We are confident this is the right decision and in the best interest of our students and the local community. Resuming normal operations for 34,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff at this time would have placed an undue burden on the region’s recovering infrastructure.

As I told you last night, this decision could not be made lightly. A great deal of thought and planning, consultation with state and local officials and, I’m not afraid to tell you, a bit of hand wringing occurred before we decided to move forward.

We are confident this is the right decision and in the best interest of our students and the local community. Resuming normal operations for 34,000 students and 6,000 faculty and staff at this time would have placed an undue burden on the region’s recovering infrastructure. That number of individuals coming to the city center at this time would hinder the recovery efforts.

Furthermore, while city water service has been restored to campus, there is no certainty that it will remain constant, available and safe. We remain under a boil water advisory which impacts our ability to provide food service and other essential services to a fully operational campus.

Families, please be sure to ask your student what his or her plans are for the coming days. And students, you might head that question off and give them a call with your intentions. Regardless, your safety is of utmost importance.

If you choose to leave Columbia: travel in daylight and be extremely cautious—road conditions in many places are hazardous; consider taking a friend or roommate with you; and, if you are an on-campus resident, please check out with your RM. For those who stay, we will continue to house and feed our on-campus population.

The provost’s office is working with deans, department chairs and faculty members to find flexible and creative ways to make up for lost classroom time. There will be regular communication with you from faculty about academic expectations.

With a smaller student population expected in town, it will be easier for us to provide essential and other services. Therefore, the following will be offered to ALL students tomorrow and the remainder of the week—those who live both on and off campus:

  • Bottled water distribution
  • Food service at Honeycomb Café, Bates Café and others
  • Thomson Student Health Center
  • Counseling Center in Byrnes
  • Strom Thurmond Wellness & Fitness Center
  • Thomas Cooper Library
  • Student Success Center
  • Activities and entertainment in the Russell House
  • Portable toilets at residence halls, Russell House and Greek Village

I know there are many questions about classes and coursework. The provost’s office is working with deans, department chairs and faculty members to find flexible and creative ways to make up for lost classroom time. There will be regular communication with you from faculty about academic expectations. Students, please understand that work must be made up and please be prepared to do so. You may welcome these couple of days for the opportunity to catch up or get ahead.

Of course, the recovery continues around us. If you are in Columbia over the next several days I recommend using some of your time to volunteer in the relief effort. We’ve had more than 2,700 students sign up to volunteer so far and there is always a need for more.

We’ve extended the drop-add deadline for students who need to change their class schedule. Also, I am happy to report that it is our intention to adhere to the planned academic calendar, including fall break.

Of course, the recovery continues around us. If you are in Columbia over the next several days I recommend using some of your time to volunteer in the relief effort. We’ve had more than 2,700 students sign up to volunteer so far and there is always a need for more. There has been a great deal of tragedy around us—including in our Carolina family—but on the whole our campus has been fortunate. We truly have the support of a large and engaged family. Please keep our state and those negatively impacted by this tragedy in your thoughts and prayers. Stay safe over the coming days and we’ll see you soon.