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Note To Parents


February 2020

Heavy snow and cold temperatures made last week’s FebFest activities more seasonal and heightened anticipation for the College’s spring break in less than a month. Students have a lot on their minds at this point in the semester. Here’s a quick look at some of what my student life colleagues and I are thinking about:

  • Housing Selection: This week, students will learn which special-interest communities have been approved for next year and have the chance to apply to join one (current communities exist for students interested in Spanish and video gaming). That will be followed by selection for substance-free housing, and then the general housing selection in April. Students are aware that they are required to live in College residences and may not sign leases for off-campus housing. Doing so incurs significant personal and family liability.
  • Common Ground: President Wippman has encouraged our community to wrestle more deliberately and substantively with difficult issues. Common Ground is a forum where speakers discuss contemporary issues and model respectful dialogue from different perspectives. Now we’re expanding the Common Ground concept with a pilot program that trains students to facilitate difficult conversations with their peers – not to change minds, but to encourage understanding of different viewpoints.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: In my role as Hamilton’s chief diversity officer, I facilitated a discussion with the College’s senior staff to reaffirm Hamilton’s overarching diversity goals. We are developing a website that will detail the diversity efforts that are happening across campus and will share that information with you in the coming months.
  • Community Care Contacts: Finally, to ensure our students have every opportunity to be successful, we have created a pilot program this semester to train individuals in student life (who are not therapists) to serve as another resource for students. They will meet over coffee or lunch with those referred by the Counseling Center and serve as an additional touchpoint for students.

Your students are smart, talented, and conscientious; it is a genuine pleasure to share these four years with them.

Best wishes,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


January 2020

I hope this finds you well and looking forward to all the promise of a new year. There is much excitement on campus with the arrival of students for the second half of the academic year. On Friday, I welcomed our newest members to the community, and I hope to connect with them in the next few weeks as they transition to their new surroundings. I am equally pleased to welcome back those students who studied away from campus or were on a break from the College. I already feel the buzz of energy and connection.

I spent part of my break sorting through a box in my home office where I had collected articles and papers to read at a later time. (Somehow Marie Kondo has found her way into my life.) As I was ridding myself of “things that do not bring me joy,” I came across a 2012 article from Business Insider titled, “How to Spend Time in Ways That Make You Happy” and decided it was time to give it a read!

The article echoed some topics I talked about with a student last semester. We discussed his ability to continue balancing all the things to which he committed himself, especially since he couldn’t explain why he enjoyed some but not others. Quite simply, he was tired and struggled with purpose — not an uncommon experience at the end of a busy semester. Our conversation focused on priorities and commitments, on time and energy, and about concentrating on those tasks that needed to be done. I wish I had had the article to give him at that time. It concluded that individuals who control their time experience higher levels of happiness, and it recommended spending focused time with the right people and on the right activities. Happiness changes over time, the article concluded, which is a message I will continue to amplify this semester. It may be valuable to reinforce a similar message with your child.

You may be aware that our Counseling Center, like many others at colleges across the country, has experienced increased demand. Although we have added staff members in the last several years, wait times have grown. To address this, during peak times in the semester we are piloting a program that replaces traditional intake appointments with initial consultations that allow therapists to assess a student’s need and identify appropriate resources. Some students will move on to individual counseling at the center, and others will be directed toward alternative resources, both on campus and off, or will receive recommendations for different services. We expect this approach to reduce wait times, provide students who need therapy with quicker access to a provider, and help students who many not need therapeutic intervention to identify other resources. 

We have also added a service called WellTrack, a set of online tools and courses designed to maintain mental health and provide real-time interactive therapy. Students can access this new resource online or by downloading the app and logging in using their Hamilton email address. The College’s on-call service can be accessed directly through that app as well.

I am also pleased to announce that Hamilton is partnering with Fonemed to provide students with after-hours and weekend access to registered nurses by telephone at no cost. This service will complement the excellent care already provided weekdays when the Johnson Health and Wellness Center is open and by our remarkable New York State-certified student EMTs. To use this service, students who call the Health Center after hours will be routed automatically to a patient coordinator at the Fonemed Medical Call Center. The coordinator will document symptoms and identify a chief complaint. If the call is deemed urgent, the student will be referred immediately to a registered nurse; if not, an RN will return the call, typically within 30 minutes. Our Health Center will receive reports the next business day, so that appropriate follow-up care and support, if necessary, can be provided on campus. I extend my gratitude to Health Center Director Barb Fluty for identifying and establishing this new service. Of course, students may still choose to self-refer to a local hospital or urgent care in the evenings and on weekends. 

We are committed to the well-being of our students and will continue assessing and exploring ways to ensure they have the resources to be healthy and productive at Hamilton. I look forward to a successful, safe, and balanced semester, and to meeting many of you on campus in the coming months.

All my best,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students

P.S.  I finally did get rid of that article!


December 15, 2019

It’s been a wonderful semester on College Hill, one where our students’ lives have been complete with many successes and an equal amount of challenges. These past two weeks, I’ve attended end-of-semester course presentations that represent the culmination of thoughtful hard work, and have attended community gatherings and celebrations. We’ve had an incredible fall athletic season where every sport has advanced to postseason competition — a feat never before achieved in Hamilton’s history — and wonderful musical and theatrical performances. And who could forget a night with Tina Fey? We even had our first snow day in years, and many students “went outside to play!” Tonight we will enjoy a late-night breakfast study break in the library (where I will no doubt witness mounds of bacon being consumed), and students will wrap up the week with a whirlwind of finals and presentations.

Most of our students will head home for winter break, and while reuniting with them will be wonderful, the truth is that re-entry may be difficult for students and perhaps even more so for parents. Your son or daughter will no doubt be very tired and need to catch up on sleep. You may notice some changes and feel that your student came home only to see high school friends and to sleep all day. This is normal. I recommend you allow them some time to rest and catch their breath before you really begin catching up with them. Schedule family time, such as a few meals together, to talk about the semester — the successes they’ve had as well as the challenges they’ve faced and how they may have handled them.

Going away to college promotes healthy and necessary feelings of independence, and this independence continues when a child returns home for break. As a parent you may want to go back to pre-college rules and expectations, but I recommend considering this as a new phase in your student’s growth toward becoming an independent adult and begin shifting the relationship you have with your young adult child. From this point on, your relationship can be based on mutual respect and understanding. They are a little more mature now so let them show off their maturity. Talk about a new set of expectations, and listen from their slightly more adult perspective. Tell them what you are seeing that is different, and work through solutions with them rather than for them. Most importantly, be patient. This slow evolution to adulthood is right on track and prepares them for the next phase of their lives toward adulthood. Most important is that you spend time together and appreciate the many changes they are facing. Before you know it, they’ll be home for summer ... and that is a much longer break!

Best wishes for a peaceful holiday!

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students


October 24, 2019

Dear Parents,

It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through the semester. For us that means the leaves have just passed their peak colors, our athletic seasons are well under way, and our students’ gaze now turns to everything they need to accomplish by the end of the semester. Midterms are upon us, many students are submitting their first big papers of the semester, and academic pressures are beginning to mount. For those students who were able to return home for fall break, being in a familiar place likely provided them with a touchstone of familiarity and enough energy to sustain them for the next half of the semester. I know students who weren’t able to travel home also had the chance to decompress for a few days.

Students are experiencing the second half of the fall semester differently, depending on their class year.

  • Our seniors have begun thinking about securing jobs or narrowing down options for graduate school, while many of our juniors are making plans to spend the spring semester abroad or, for those currently away from campus, returning to College Hill.
  • Our sophomores are getting closer to declaring their majors and either are happy to have made that decision, or are still considering which direction they should pursue. It is good for you to ask questions that might allow them to grapple with the complexities of their decisions and to let them know that having a change of mind is perfectly acceptable. Some questions I recommend are:
    • What are you hoping to learn from that internship?
    • What insights have you gained from your advisor?
    • If you could speak with alumnae in your field of interest, what questions would you ask them?
    • Have you connected with someone in the Career Center?
  • For many of our first-year students, this is the point in the semester when homesickness sets in. According to the Higher Education Research Institute, approximately 65 percent of college first-year students experience homesickness. The newness of the campus has worn off, routines have set in, schoolwork has mounted, and social connections are not yet as deep as they were in high school. This article provides some good insights that might be helpful. I also love this video created by a first-year student at Cornell. It’s a sweet reminder that things will work out with patience and self-care.

Regardless of where your student is developmentally at college, know that an encouraging word or a listening ear goes a long way … and a care package! A note or cookies from home can make all the difference in the world!

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students

Instagram: deantmartinez
Twitter: DeanTMartinez
Life on the Hill Podcast


September 17, 2019

The fall semester began less than three weeks ago, but students, faculty, and staff have quickly settled into their routines.  I'd like to invite you to visit campus for Family Weekend, September 26-29. Alumni will also be on campus for Fallcoming. Highlights include the opportunity to sit in on classes, the State of the College address with President Wippman, a reception with faculty, a Career Center Open House, and a variety of performances, athletic contests and other student showcases.

While the year on College Hill is off to a good start, I want to call your attention to a concern at colleges and universities across the country. Marijuana use among college students is not a new phenomenon, but the potency of today’s marijuana, combined with the use of vaping, has created a greater concern among health professionals and those of us in the higher education community who work with students every day. Consistent with national trends, Hamilton is seeing increased use of e-cigarettes and marijuana.

In the coming days, we will be sending a caution to our students regarding the use of one or both in combination. You play a critical role in educating your student about the dangers of tobacco vaping or marijuana use, and I ask for your partnership in relaying a consistent message. I encourage you to take a few moments to learn about the new research on these matters, including the Surgeon General’s recently released warning regarding the use of marijuana and its effect on the developing brain. You may also want to review the Centers for Disease Control’s fact sheets and talking points for parents.

In addition, please remind your student to be honest about their use of e-cigarettes when seeking treatment for any respiratory ailments. Hamilton’s Health Center professionals will not release any information to my office regarding individual use of such products, but sharing this information with our College’s health care staff can help address any medical issues. Thank you for your assistance.

And if you haven't done so already, please register for Family Weekend on the College website. For those who will be joining us, have a safe trip to campus. I look forward to seeing you.

Sincerely,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students

Instagram: deantmartinez
Twitter: DeanTMartinez
Life on the Hill Podcast


Augut 22, 2019

Greetings from College Hill!

I hope this message finds you well. On Tuesday, we welcomed the newest members of our community, and there was much buzz on campus as our new students began heading out on their orientation trips. I am excited about the upcoming year and want to share with you some thoughts ahead of the first day of classes on Thursday, August 29.

The health, well-being, and safety of our students remain our top priorities in the Division of Student Life. My office will continue working with our students to ensure their individual and collective success in our community. I will share the following information with your student in an upcoming communication with them, but I hope you can reinforce the messages the next time you speak with your child.   

  • After Hours Nurse Advice – Just like at home, students sometimes need health advice outside of normal business hours. Students on the College’s MVP health insurance plan can contact a 24/7 Nurse Advice Line for NON-EMERGENCY medical questions at 1-888-687-5277.  (Those not enrolled in the College’s MVP plan are encouraged to reach out to their insurance provider and ask about a similar service. Most insurance companies offer this benefit to their participants.). In an EMERGENCY, students should contact Campus Safety, and they will be sure to get immediate attention. I ask that you speak with your student about the various medical options available to them and help guide them through this process. It is most important that students seek medical attention before symptoms worsen.
  • The Counseling Center offers numerous resources for our students, including after-hours support for those in crisis. Our health insurance provider also makes available access to online modules that can help students learn about and manage their emotional health. These modules can be accessed anytime. 
  • Maintaining Good Health – We will continue promoting healthy lifestyles this year by focusing on exercise, nutrition, and healthy behaviors. I read this article last year on the importance of sleep for college students and thought it was worth sharing again. 
  • All students are required to reside on campus. The College does not sanction any off-campus houses for students or student organizations, or their activities. Such houses are unauthorized, unsupervised, and unregulated. Any student who assumes the responsibility of leasing an off-campus space against College policy has been advised to check with a parent’s homeowner’s insurance policy for liability coverage.
  • Finally, we launched a podcast for our students featuring interviews with members of our community, news on campus, and topics students should be aware of at various times of the year.  I hope you will listen and let us know what you think.

The start of another academic year is an exciting time for our students, faculty, and staff. I look forward to connecting with you again, but as always, if you have any ideas to share, or have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Here’s to a wonderful academic year!

All my best,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students

Instagram deantmartinez
Twitter DeanTMartinez


May 22, 2019

Dear Parent or Guardian,

As Hamilton’s 2018-19 academic year comes to a close, I write to acknowledge the work of our students and offer a few suggestions for making the most of the summer.

Many students have jobs, research projects, internships, or other commitments that may keep them from home the next several months. Nevertheless, I hope you will still have some significant time to reconnect with your child, enjoy each other’s company, and engage in meaningful conversations. When those conversations take place, I encourage you to offer the following general advice, whether your student is graduating or returning to campus in the fall:

  • Encourage exploration. Summer is a perfect time to try different activities so that your student can begin narrowing down post-graduation plans. Exploring different types of interests and activities will help students learn what they are good at and, equally important, what they don’t like to do. 
  • Practice play. During the school year students are constantly on the go and are working to find balance in their lives. For those who will be returning in the fall, summer gives them a chance to forego deadlines and time pressures so that they can rejuvenate and come back ready to tackle the new year. You can help by encouraging them to make connections and enjoy non-career-related activities. 
  • Help them set realistic goals. Students return to campus with a host of ambitious projects on their list of things to accomplish in the next year. It is important to guide them in focusing on a few things: an academic challenge, a career-related pursuit, and a social or co-curricular milestone that will provide them with an outlet for connections with peers.

For the parents and guardians of our graduating seniors, I look forward to seeing you at Commencement on Sunday. And for all our parents and guardians, best wishes for a summer full of exploration, play, realistic goal-setting, and relaxation.

Sincerely,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students
 


January 15, 2019

Dear Parent or Guardian,

I don’t think it is too late to wish you a Happy New Year!  I hope you have entered 2019 with health and peace.

I typically take a moment at the start of each semester to review both the successes and challenges of the past and to look optimistically at things to come. The fall semester allowed me to focus on community-building aspects in my role on campus, and how we share our talents, skills, and experiences. Meeting with students over small dinners or in working meetings (as well as at the late night breakfast in the library during finals, the Lighting of our Village event, and at numerous sporting and student organization events) gave me insight into the challenges our students face connecting with each other, even on a small campus. Research reveals that young adults are plagued by a constant connection to social media and others’ depictions of happiness. I encourage our students to think about the things in their lives that make them happy, and not by others’ perceptions. This is an important task for developing young adults’ self-reliance and contributes to their well-being.

As we start a new semester, we will continue focusing on practices that promote student health and well-being. Mindfulness, exercise, proper nutrition, connecting with others, and sleep all contribute to one’s sense of personal fulfillment, and I hope our students will gain a greater understanding of how these skills lead to success well beyond their time on College Hill. We will kick-off a series of wellness conversations on Wednesday, January 30 — which is Sleep Awareness Day — with information and activities that focus on the importance of getting adequate rest. 

Please engage with your student in conversations around well-being, both in moments when they are feeling stressed, or in other conversations you have with them. When they seem anxious (which will happen inevitably), encourage your student to reach out for support and to consider how they might break down challenging tasks into smaller, more manageable actions. Also, ask about the things they are doing to manage their time and their health. Focus conversations on sleep, exercise, and proper nutrition. Help them focus not just on grades, which are important of course, but on the skills that will help them be successful. If we all reinforce these messages (and practice them in our own lives) our students will see how they can have greater agency for their health.

Best wishes for successful semester,

Terry Martinez
Vice President and Dean of Students

P.S.  Please be sure your student has received a flu shot!!

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
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