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Note To Parents


September 2021

Dear Friends and Families,

The campus is fully active and our students are enjoying connecting in person with each other and with our faculty and staff members. Our outdoor canopies are filled with activities each day, athletic teams have begun competing, and student organizations are programming and connecting with each other. A hint of autumn’s arrival is beginning to show on our trees. I have an image in my mind of an old woman awakening, sitting on the bed, putting her feet on the ground while stretching with a far reach, and greeting the day with a yawn. We are emerging from a yearlong slumber.  

We continue to exercise caution and have eased into the semester to prevent the spike in coronavirus cases we’ve seen on other campuses this fall. Requiring all community members to be vaccinated and weekly testing are working for us. The former helps minimize the potential of severe illness should someone test positive, while the latter will allow us to quickly make decisions to hopefully prevent an outbreak. Because COVID-19 is not completely gone from our lives, there is always a looming fear of a pivot, which is cause for anxiety for some of our students. I’ve heard from some students about the fear of us having to implement strict restrictions again. I share with them that the key to our success is for each of us to continue being safe in our approach.  Masking indoors, avoiding large unmasked indoor gatherings, and staying home if feeling ill are ways we can stay safe this year. I once again call on our students to do what others think is impossible — to trust each other to do the right thing to keep us safe. They are doing remarkably well.  

This week I will meet with some students interested in exploring additional ways to safely gather indoors once it gets too cold to be outside. The yearning for community is even more palpable than last year and the possibilities for doing so are endless. Tapping into students for ideas and supporting their creativity will allow the old woman on the bed to comfortably rest her head each night.  

I hope you are hearing from your student about the ways they are connecting outside of the classroom.  Ask them about their experience with open-ended questions, query for additional ideas, and direct them to staff members across campus who can help make their ideas come to fruition.  

Sending you best wishes,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students 
 



August 2021

Dear Friends and Families,

Yesterday marked the official opening of the 210th year of the College. Our new students have spent the last 10 days connecting with each other, exploring campus resources, and learning about our behavioral and academic integrity expectations. I was excited to spend time with some returning students as they connected at our community picnic. Each conversation this week has inevitably focused around the excitement of in-person instruction and reuniting with friends, of being in community with each other.

I want to share with you portions of my Convocation remarks, which focused on the three things I hope for our students this year.

After acknowledging the loss of connection, community, and especially the loss of human lives in our circles this past year, I thought it important to acknowledge the tenacity and persistence we’ve all exhibited as we dealt with constant changes. It’s what Kathy Caprino recently described in a Forbes article as having a “Flux Mindset.” This is the ability to stay “emotionally afloat” during the pandemic and to see change as an opportunity to find silver linings. I reminded students to look back and identify the things that have allowed them to continue to propel themselves during their challenging moments — what matters most. So, the first important thing is to remember that they’ve already faced some big challenges and experienced success in trying moments. I hope they remind themselves of this when faced with the next unexpected change, which will inevitably come.

The second thing I hope is that we find ways to build community because it matters so much to our well-being. The effects of the pandemic, quarantines, and isolation have been felt acutely. We are social creatures, and it is our instinct to find connections with others. There have been studies in what is known as the Blue Zones. Residents of the Blue Zones live throughout the world, but they have nine commonalities that lead to longer, healthier, and happier lives. These commonalities fall into four categories. To oversimplify, these include diet, exercise, purpose, and community. Community well-being is a pretty powerful thing.

Health and happiness are inextricably linked to our connections and our sense of belonging, and our students can build their community unlike any other moment ahead of them. Communities take care of their members, demonstrate compassion toward each other, embrace conflict and the learning that occurs from appreciating multiple points of view, extend a welcome to others, and assume good intent. Students can do these things by thinking about the impact their behaviors have on others, by investing time and energy in encouraging others, and by letting others know they are supported. An email of gratitude, a note of support, bringing a cookie to a friend who is focused on writing a paper or a faculty member who has spent additional time explaining a concept, picking up a piece of trash that several people have walked past — these all matter. Each student has the ability and the power to impact our community.

The third and final thing I hope for our students is that while they are here, they remain present. Thinking about and planning for the future are certainly important, but so is utilizing their days on the Hill as an opportunity for growth, a way to challenge themselves or cultivate experiences rather than accumulating a list or checking boxes. It is a good time to ask questions and seek answers. Instead of asking a professor “Will this be on the test?” ask them “Why is this important?” You see, how you show up here matters now more than ever, and there are countless opportunities to engage in real ways to address some of our biggest issues — health, safety, racism, classism, homophobia. The list goes on, and I hope students will make space not only to engage in discussions, but to work with others on creating solutions. I encourage them to take advantage of every new opportunity, reflect on the things they value, and be sure to include them in their daily lives. Don’t squander integrity, goodwill, opportunity, or love. Focusing on those values will bring them tremendous satisfaction.

Ultimately, our students are responsible for themselves and this community, and I hope they will positively contribute to our collective success.


May 2021

A Look Back

Dear Friends and Families,

I hope you are well and feeling optimistic as our nation slowly reopens after a long pause. Similar to past years, the last two weeks of the academic year give me an opportunity to pause and reflect. I’ve thought about our on-campus experiences, the pandemic’s impact on our community, and the individual and unexpected challenges faced by our students. This was a difficult year for everyone, and I believe we are changed for the better as a result.

We began with a fearless determination and a healthy dose of doubt, and our resolve to define and create a safe on-campus experience was affected by how much we didn’t know. Yet, as we slowly navigated each obstacle and carefully considered each new piece of information, we grew more confident that our community — our faculty, staff, and students — would work together to support each other.

Our fall semester adjustment came with restrictions, feelings of isolation, and loss: loss for the community-building experiences for the newest members of our community and those students who were simply not able to join us on campus; and loss for the celebratory moments of accomplishment and pride in our athletic competitions, our theatrical and musical performances, and similar such opportunities. When faced with the reality that so many students would return to campus, we created ways for smaller groups of students to connect, added virtual support services in the Counseling Center, and provided online opportunities to create a shared experience. We learned how to learn and how to connect through Zoom, albeit with less intimacy. We fumble through, learned from our experiences, and then made alterations for the second semester.

The spring proved to be just as challenging, but we drew upon our successes of the fall as classes resumed in February and national and regional rates of infection grew. We trusted that our testing and distancing practices would work and recommitted to them to get us successfully to the end of the semester. And they did. We will soon be making decisions about the next academic year, and I am hopeful. As we plan for a more normal experience, it will be my top priority to rebuild the sense of community we cherish, to provide our new sophomores with an opportunity to really experience our campus, and to welcome our newest class. 

changing seasonsIn closing, I share with you these four photographs of the tree outside my front door. I love this tree! It is a reminder of how dramatically things can change from one season to the next, and how we can still flourish and come back more vibrant than the year before. I look forward to what is ahead and wish you and our newly minted graduates much success and growth.

Best regards,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


March 2021

Dear Parents,

I hope this message finds you well and full of hope with spring’s arrival. I am thrilled that our current campus operating status allows for greater normalcy, and I look forward to the day when our students can fully engage in the activities they so deeply enjoy, those that make a residential campus so special.

The pandemic has been a challenge for colleges across the country, and the lack of personal connection and increased isolation have affected mental health. Our Counseling Center has responded with a variety of wellness offerings in addition to the many services already provided. The pandemic has also amplified racial disparities and systemic issues, both in our society and on campuses. Hamilton is not exempt from the self-reflection necessary to identify and address these disparities. Last summer’s clarion call for a deliberative assessment of the experiences of those who have felt historically marginalized across all sectors of society, but particularly on our campus, resulted in President Wippman forming an Advisory Council to review all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton. The goal is to create an environment where all those who come to study, as well as those who choose to work here, can feel welcomed, can thrive, and can feel supported in achieving success.

Earlier this week, the Advisory Council sent a list of proposals to the president and asked all members of the community to reflect on how their own words, work, and actions affect others. I invite you to engage your student in this important conversation. Some suggested topics for discussion can focus on the things they are learning from others with respect to perspectives that may differ from their own, how they navigate the campus and interact with others, or how they express their authentic selves in and out of class. These conversations can be very rich and provide students with an opportunity to consciously think about their experiences. I hope they provide you with an opportunity to hear how your student may be growing while away at college.

With warm regards from College Hill,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


March 2021

Dear Parents,

I hope this message finds you well and full of hope with spring’s arrival. I am thrilled that our current campus operating status allows for greater normalcy, and I look forward to the day when our students can fully engage in the activities they so deeply enjoy, those that make a residential campus so special.

The pandemic has been a challenge for colleges across the country, and the lack of personal connection and increased isolation have affected mental health. Our Counseling Center has responded with a variety of wellness offerings in addition to the many services already provided. The pandemic has also amplified racial disparities and systemic issues, both in our society and on campuses. Hamilton is not exempt from the self-reflection necessary to identify and address these disparities. Last summer’s clarion call for a deliberative assessment of the experiences of those who have felt historically marginalized across all sectors of society, but particularly on our campus, resulted in President Wippman forming an Advisory Council to review all aspects of diversity, equity, and inclusion at Hamilton. The goal is to create an environment where all those who come to study, as well as those who choose to work here, can feel welcomed, can thrive, and can feel supported in achieving success.

Earlier this week, the Advisory Council sent a list of proposals to the president and asked all members of the community to reflect on how their own words, work, and actions affect others. I invite you to engage your student in this important conversation. Some suggested topics for discussion can focus on the things they are learning from others with respect to perspectives that may differ from their own, how they navigate the campus and interact with others, or how they express their authentic selves in and out of class. These conversations can be very rich and provide students with an opportunity to consciously think about their experiences. I hope they provide you with an opportunity to hear how your student may be growing while away at college.

With warm regards from College Hill,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


February 2021

Dear Parents,

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, what once felt like a short-term sprint has turned into a seemingly never-ending marathon. We just passed the one-year anniversary of COVID-19 in the U.S. and many are feeling they are done with a pandemic that appears to be far from over. Students are tired of restrictions on indoor gatherings, wearing masks, physical distancing, and being away from family and friends. Increasingly they are fed up with the “new normal” routines.

Ironically, the successful completion of the fall semester and the successful start of a new semester have brought new challenges. Most of us have experienced so-called COVID fatigue, which can lead to careless behaviors and a sharp rise in cases. For example, as I write this message, I am reviewing incident reports from the weekend indicating that there was at least one extremely large gathering on campus and several other gatherings where students engaged in drinking games while not wearing face masks or following physically distanced guidelines. COVID-19 fatigue is very real – and very dangerous – as the virus mutates and becomes more contagious.

A friend in the medical field sent me a recent article from the American Medical Association website titled What doctors wish patients knew about pandemic fatigue. In it, the authors highlight nine things we should focus on as we continue to face restrictions. 

  • Recognize signs of COVID fatigue
  • Seek mental health care
  • Find ways to have community
  • Maintain hope
  • Create a schedule
  • Focus on what you can control
  • Practice positive affirmation
  • Set boundaries for social media
  • Continue to follow preventive measures

Our programming and messaging efforts this semester will continue focusing on many of the factors we already know work. Most importantly, we should remind ourselves why we’re wearing masks and distancing from people we hope to keep safe. We’re not doing this because we’ve been told we must, but rather we must do this to protect those around us. Please remind your student to be intentional about socializing, relaxing, and exercising, especially now when it is harder to get outside. These are the keys to managing COVID fatigue and getting to the end of another semester successfully.

Best wishes for continued health,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


January 2021

Dear Parents,

We are only two weeks into 2021, so it’s still appropriate to wish you and your family a happy and safe new year.

My colleagues and I are busy preparing for your student’s arrival in a few short weeks, which includes replicating those practices that worked well last semester and improving protocols in other areas.

As you know, the number of infected individuals has risen across the country and Oneida County is no different. As of this writing, the infection rate in the county is 3.6 percent compared to .03 percent when we welcomed our students to campus in August. This is due to a sharp increase in positive cases in the past several weeks. It will be even more important this semester that we maintain a “protective bubble” on campus and that we follow a vigorous testing regime.

We will allow students to enter each other’s residence halls once we have established our bubble – hopefully a few weeks following their arrival. Our programming efforts will continue to focus on healthy connections and community building, especially now that the cold weather is upon us and the use of outdoor canopies is not practical. We will also work with local vendors for campus deliveries to reduce the reasons for students to leave campus for any reason other than medical needs or emergencies.

I need your support. I ask that you convey to your student the importance of remaining on campus, particularly if your student has a car. Our success this semester will be more challenging, but I am confident if we employ the “we are all in this together” spirit that we had last semester, we will have another successful term.

My wish for you this coming year is for health, positive connections, and peacefulness.

Best regards,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


December 2020

Dear Hamilton Parents,

During this holiday season, my message is one of gratitude for your partnership this past semester. Thank you for supporting our efforts to keep your students safe and healthy as our community made the sacrifices necessary to successfully provide in-person instruction and alternative extracurricular and recreational opportunities. We’re gearing up to do it again in the spring, but for now let’s all enjoy a safe, relaxing, and well-deserved holiday.

Best wishes to you and your family.

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


October 2020

We recently passed the halfway point of the fall semester with only one student and two employees testing positive for the coronavirus. More than 35,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered to date. The safety protocols, including aggressive testing, put in place are working, but that’s only because students, faculty, and staff are following the guidelines. Unfortunately, about a dozen students have been unable to meet these obligations and they have left campus.

Our success so far, the limitations placed on in-person social interaction, and the colder weather may tempt students to become less vigilant in protecting themselves – and others – from the virus. Please help us by encouraging your student to continue following the College’s COVID-19 policies. Our COVID-19 Task Force has been weighing ways to relax our restrictions that are both safe and practical.

Student Life staff members are aware of the challenges faced by our students and have added more programming options, especially geared to help new students meet others, create relationships, and relax. These include a program to match new students with upperclass student pen pals, an online speed friending event, outdoor tie dye and pumpkin carving, pop-up giveaways, S’mores and campfire nights at the Glen House, and our annual “Exploring Identities” panel where current students share their own experiences navigating identity development and community at Hamilton. Students can learn more about these programs on the Sadove Student Center Instagram account and the Student Activities website.

Recognizing the stress the pandemic has placed on students, our Counseling Center planned for increased demand by adding services, including the ability to connect virtually. Our contract with a teletherapy service also provides access to Black therapists, which has been a need for us given our location. Please remind your student that our support services are available to them.

Finally, many students are concerned about the future and are looking forward to taking positive steps by voting in the general election. The non-partisan student group HamVotes has been working to increase voter education, registration, and ballot access, and the College is supporting those efforts with safe transportation for early voting and Election Day transportation.

It is hard to believe, but the last day of classes for the fall semester is just three weeks after the election. Our planning for the spring semester is well under way, and you can expect further updates in the weeks ahead.

Thank you for your partnership during these unusual times and continued best wishes for good health, safety and wellbeing.

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


Contact Information


Dean of Students Office

Elihu Root House
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Mon.-Fri.: 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
315-859-4020 315-859-4077 dosdept@hamilton.edu
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