The Associated Students of Madison held a virtual town hall meeting on Zoom with administrators to answer student questions about mental health, academics, segregated fees and financial aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The meeting included panelists from the Office of Student Financial Aid, University Health Services and Recreation and Wellbeing, as well as the Dean of Students Christina Olstad and the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning Steve Cramer. 

Cramer fielded student concerns over some faculty assigning what students feel is an unjust amount of course work given the current circumstances. He recommended students speak to their professor directly or contact [email protected] to express their concerns if they feel overwhelmed. 

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“It’s quite common that when an instructor who has not taught online before … moves to an online environment there’s all of the sudden this feeling like ‘oh, gee, I don’t have enough content … and it’s a very natural reaction to kind of pile it on,” Cramer said. 

Associate Vice Chancellor for Health and Wellbeing and Executive Director for UHS Jake Baggott said UHS will try to continue mental health services for students remotely. Baggott said UHS is actively following and researching the mental health licensing laws of states across the country to provide the best health care they can while still abiding by any restrictions. 

UHS can also help connect students with other resources in their area if they are not able to directly help, Baggott said. 

UHS Interim Director of Mental Health Services Andrea Lawson said most mental health services have moved online. UHS is continuing to work with students on their mental health needs, whether they be new concerns or existing ones that students are looking to address, Lawson said. 

“One of the silver linings maybe in this is that our availability is immediate,” Lawson said. “We have same day availability for access appointments right now and we also have drop in support through on call.” 

OSFA Assistant Director for Student Engagement Justin Mumford said in addition to the income continuation that was initially offered, student employees who are not able to work during this time can apply for a one time grant based on their pay rate and hours they would have worked.

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OSFA Associate Director for Special Awards and Student Engagement Lauren Klink said if students are struggling financially at this time and need any additional help, they can apply for emergency funds through their website

“There is a substantial need for the work that students are doing,” Mumford said. “It’s an incredibly important part of our UW Madison community … so we will look forward to the return to normal operations.”

Student Services Finance Committee Chair Jordan Pasbrig said they likely will not offer a segregated fees refund because many of the services the fees finance are still running in some capacity and have staff that need to be paid.

UHS and RecWell, among other services, are still available at this time, and the construction of buildings like the Nicholas Recreation Facility is still ongoing, Pasbrig said. But Klink said students can apply emergency funds towards outstanding segregated fee balances if desired. 

Olstad said she encourages students to continue to share their voice in the process and reach out to the Dean of Students office and other resources on campus if they have any concerns.