Community Conversations: ‘Please Keep Your Masks On’

News subtitle

The interim provost and guests discussed COVID safety, the endowment, and diversity.

Shontay Delalue
Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue was a guest on this week’s Community Conversations webcast. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

Watch the Nov. 10 Community Conversations webcast with Interim Provost David Kotz ’86, Sam Brook ’25, Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue, and Trustee Chair Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84.

“Get vaccinated if you haven’t—that is our single greatest tool against this pandemic,” Sam Brook ’25 told viewers of this week’s Community Conversations.

Brook, a first-year student, joined Interim Provost David Kotz ’86 to share an undergraduate perspective on campus life this fall.

Kotz was also joined by Senior Vice President and Senior Diversity Officer Shontay Delalue, and Dartmouth Board of Trustees Chair Elizabeth Cahill Lempres ’83, Thayer ’84 for a conversation moderated by Vice President for Communications Justin Anderson.

A Student Perspective

Before matriculating at Dartmouth, Brook spent five months as an intern in the Kansas City, Kan., county health department, and spent the past summer as a pharmacy technician—opportunities that let him witness the COVID-19 vaccine rollout firsthand. Then he tested positive for the virus during his first week of classes, experiencing mild symptoms. Though the experience was isolating, he said, “I was lucky that I got it at the beginning of the term before things started to ramp up.”

Brook urged his fellow students and community members to get vaccinated, test regularly, and wear masks. “Those three things are so important to quelling this pandemic, and I implore my peers to do those things,” he said.

Brook’s message remains timely, as COVID-19 cases have been increasing regionally and at Dartmouth, said Kotz. “This recent spike serves as a reminder of just how quickly things can change.”

Vaccine Clinics

Kotz reminded community members that all Dartmouth employees, regardless of where they work, are required by a federal executive order to be vaccinated by Dec. 8. Information on finding a vaccine site is available through the Centers for Disease Control.

For those already vaccinated, Dartmouth will host on-campus vaccine booster clinics for students on Nov. 16, and for employees on Dec. 9; details will be published in the Vox Daily newsletter, which is sent to faculty, students, and staff.

Kotz also encouraged all community members to get their annual flu vaccine. Several flu vaccine clinics have been held on campus this fall. For more information, contact Dick’s House pharmacy. The flu shot is also available at area pharmacies and clinics.

Masks: Still Required in Public Indoor Spaces

Dartmouth’s face-mask policy “is one of the most important reasons we’ve been able to retain our in-person learning this fall,” Kotz said—but not everyone is following the rules.

Lack of compliance with masking rules has led the Alumni Gym to temporarily close for a day in October and for two days this week, and Kotz said that rude behavior toward gym staff who have sought to enforce the policy has led some staff members to resign. The library is experiencing similar issues.

“For the benefit of public health—for your health—please wear your mask everywhere indoors except when you are alone or you are eating,” Kotz said.

The View from the Board

Lempres spoke about how the pandemic is shaping the board’s thinking about priorities at a moment when endowment returns are at a record high and the Call to Lead capital campaign recently topped its goal of $3 billion.

“We have an obligation to invest these resources wisely toward strategic priorities that are going to benefit the College in the long term, but we also have to recognize the people that worked really hard and put a lot of sacrifice into keeping Dartmouth running in the past year and a half,” Lempres said.

That’s why the board recently approved employee bonuses, raised the student minimum wage, and dropped the family contribution requirement for families earning less than $65,000 a year, among other initiatives, she said.

A Proactive Approach to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Delalue, who joined Dartmouth in July, described recent changes within the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, including increasing the office’s physical space and restructuring the work of the office into two arms, one focused on diversity and inclusion strategic initiatives, the other responsible for policies and procedures related to discrimination, harassment, equal opportunity, and affirmative action.

Delalue and her team are assessing the progress made through Dartmouth’s existing inclusion and climate initiatives: Inclusive Excellence, Moving Dartmouth Forward, and the Campus Climate and Culture Initiative.

“Our ultimate goal is to create a comprehensive institutional diversity, equity, and inclusion plan that will really speak to a number of issues that can move the needle forward in positively impacting our climate,” Delalue said. “I’m excited to expand upon the great foundation that has already been laid.”

Also Discussed …

  • Pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for winter term: all students are encouraged to get tested before returning to campus; prepaid test kits are available to students with a permanent U.S. address. Students who remain in the Upper Valley during break should continue regular testing if they access Dartmouth facilities.
  • All undergraduate, graduate, and professional students are encouraged to complete the Healthy Minds survey from the Jed Foundation. The survey measures knowledge and attitudes about mental health and assesses mental health and inclusion issues on campus. The survey will help Dartmouth establish long-term improvements to campus climate and to its mental health system as the institution is increasing counseling and wellness staff, among other mental health efforts.
  • Dartmouth’s emergency notification system, DartAlert, was tested this afternoon, immediately before Community Conversations aired. Kotz encouraged viewers to register their phones with DartAlert.

Community Conversations is a production of Dartmouth’s Media Production Group and the Office of Communications that airs on selected Wednesdays at 3:30 p.m. The Nov. 10 broadcast is the last webcast of the fall term.

For the most recent information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic, visit the Dartmouth Together COVID-19 website.

Hannah Silverstein