Students Share On Campus Living Experience with LUMS Management
A townhall meeting was held on October 3, where more than 95 students invited to live on campus during the first phase of the partial reopening, shared their experiences with the senior management of LUMS.
Representing the University were Vice Chancellor, Dr. Arshad Ahmad; Provost, Dr. Farhat Haq; Vice Provost, Dr. Tariq Jadoon; Professor of Practice of Public Health and Director Health and Safety at LUMS, Dr. Samia Altaf; Dean, Mushtaq Ahmad Gurmani School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Dr. Ali Khan, and Dean Office of Student Affairs, Dr. Adnan Khan, who listened to the queries and concerns of the students, and discussed ways in which the students could be made more comfortable on campus.
Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:
‘Our goal is to have the same rules for everyone on campus.’
Dr. Arshad Ahmad said that during the trial period the management tried to implement some SOPs to see if they actually work not just for the students on campus, but for everyone residing at the university. “We are mindful and we do know that there appear to be different rules for different people here. Our goal is to have the same rules for everyone on campus and that is the direction we are going in. That includes students, faculty and staff as well as any visitors.”
He also explained that this informal discussion would help the LUMS management support the needs and requests of the students on campus, as well as be better prepared for the next cohort. “We are putting pieces together from this experience to determine whether we can allow more mobility, including work, that goes beyond the campus. There are many data points to pick up that will determine the decision. The good news is that we will be deciding soon.”
‘The idea is to have one more phase instead of two.’
Dr. Samia Altaf gave an overview of the situation on campus. “We have set up many new systems and procedures, and mobilised our resources even in these constrained times. In the past two weeks or so, we have had just one positive case of COVID-19. That case and all its contacts were traced and managed meticulously. We also had three suspected cases, but after following set protocols and having them isolated and tested, we found out that they were COVID negative, which was a huge relief.”
Keeping in mind this data, Dr. Tariq Jadoon explained that though initially the plan was to have phase two and three, “We are thinking about slightly modifying our SOPs. Based upon the experiences we have had so far, the idea is to have one more phase instead of two in approximately 10-15 days and bring in 200 odd students to campus.”
Dr. Adnan Khan reiterated that the data collected from phase one is promising and that very soon in phase two, more students would be invited on campus.
‘Let the Deans know if you have issues with the courses.’
Dr. Ali Khan also encouraged the students to get in touch with the Deans of their respective schools if they face problems regarding their academics. “Let the Deans know if you have issues with the courses. It is incumbent upon us to look into the issue. Feedback is essential at this point.”
Dr. Farhat Haq told the students that the frustration they feel about online learning is something the whole community is feeling. “Faculty members are also concerned and I would encourage you to reach out to the Dean with your complaints if you are feeling that you are not being heard.”
The campus has counselling and psychological services for students to access.
In response to concerns raised by students regarding mental health, Dr. Samia Altaf highlighted different ways to tackle this issue. She said that the campus has counselling and psychological services for students, which you can access from 9 am to 5 pm directly, and after 5 pm there is a possibility to connect through phone or other means.
“I am also offering that anytime students on campus can gather together 6-8 people in one place at one time for 40 minutes, I am happy to come and we can have a conversation about what is causing us stress. We can meet outside under a tree, six feet away from each other, while all of us are wearing masks and we can talk about strategies to relieve your stress.”
Many students also raised concerns about how they were suffering from poor health due to online classes.
Dr. Altaf agreed that it is inevitable one feels anxiety, which in turn affects the physiological state. “This is why I have repeatedly stressed that physical activity and fresh air are absolutely essential every day.”
‘Go for a walk, be out in the open, get some exercise.’
Dr. Ali Khan reiterated the necessity for the students to factor in physical activity in to their everyday lives.
He encouraged students to send in suggestions on how more outdoor activities could be introduced while keeping each other safe. Dr. Khan was most appreciative to a student’s suggestion that bicycles should be made available on campus and was keen to look into the matter and provide them for students.
In response to a few questions, Dr. Adnan Khan clarified that outdoor activities are encouraged as long as students did not cluster or come into close contact with each other.
The students appreciated the efforts by the LUMS management to hear their experiences and being open to suggestions while ensuring the health of the entire community is taken care of. Dr. Ahmad encouraged all the students to take the survey as feedback was imperative for LUMS to make more informed decisions with regards to the students.