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Update from Student Affairs

November 16, 2020

Dear Students,

I’m writing to share a number of updates and to thank you for participating in the recent student survey. We received nearly three hundred thoughtful and detailed responses, which helps us to better understand your current experience, and guides our planning for the Spring semester. The survey results show that students feel that the faculty have been engaged and accessible and that the asynchronous materials have been the most useful, though many students expressed some difficulty adjusting to virtual learning this semester. Many of you also appreciate the in-person hybrid opportunities, even as class discussions and scheduling in virtual learning—as well as opportunities for social interactions—remain a main challenge. As the Dean indicated in her message last week, we are working to address your concerns in both the short-term and as we look ahead to the Spring semester. We have expanded access to on-campus facilities and are working to increase in-person opportunities to the degree permitted by current health guidelines and safety protocols. We also launched the student-led mentorship initiative GSAPP Peers, and matched almost two hundred students across the School to foster lines of communication and an improved sense of community. Thank you to all the participants in making this possible and keeping us connected.

Over the course of the past weeks, we have been working with Program Council and student organization representatives to respond to the request for a Student Organization Handbook, which has been created and is now available for your reference online. We hope that this will be a useful planning resource for those of you involved in student groups or thinking of creating one.

During the recent midterm reviews, we heard the desire to see more of your peers’ work in progress that is typically visible throughout the building. In the absence of physical pin-ups, we have created a password-protected webpage on Columbia’s server to host work students are interested in sharing. The site will be live tomorrow and includes Miro presentation boards from the Core I Architecture Studios, which you will be able to view by logging in with your UNI. Participation is entirely optional, and you may reach out to communications@arch.columbia.edu to submit images or links to work you are interested in sharing.

Pre-registration for the Spring 2021 semester will begin on November 23. Please see the course listings on our website, and we will send more detailed instructions from the Student Affairs office in the coming days. As we plan ahead for the next semester with the hope of further increasing in-person sessions and access to facilities, I ask you to remain especially cautious in this moment when COVID-19 cases are increasing across the city and country. Thank you for your continued commitment and diligence in adhering to the University’s enhanced health and safety policy and the Columbia Compact. Please remember that violations of the compact, no matter how minor, can jeopardize student privileges including studio access.

The most recently updated COVID-19 Public Health Protocols can be found on the University website, and include:

  • Wearing a face covering over nose and mouth at all times on campus
  • Keeping at least six feet (two arms lengths) apart from other people
  • Completing Columbia’s symptom tracker app every day before coming to campus or leaving a campus residence hall, and staying home when sick or after possible exposure to COVID-19
  • Following basic health precautions including frequent hand washing/sanitizing and workplace and shared-space hygiene
  • Following signs and guidance posted throughout campus spaces and buildings
  • Participating in testing and contact tracing when required, and isolation and quarantine protocols, when required.

Thank you again for your ongoing feedback and contributions throughout the semester, and for your efforts and commitment to the health of our community. Please feel free to contact me at ds89@columbia.edu with any questions or concerns.


Danielle Smoller
Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation