October 30, 2020
Oct. 30 Safe Return news center update
Thank you for all you have done this week to keep our campuses healthy, safe and a wonderful place to learn and have some fun. This week the students celebrated Saints Spirit with Harry Potter Week on the Duluth campus, it was great to see the creativity of our students and departments through the decorations in Tower Hall. This is an example of the great work going on with faculty and staff who advise and support our student clubs and organizations; you continue to find new ways to engage in this COVID environment and we appreciate all your efforts!
Upcoming Election Day and Beyond
Having an election during a pandemic is an historic event for our country. And it comes at a time of polarized ideologies, widespread mistrust and deep feelings on the issues and the candidates. As a Saints community, it is incumbent upon us to model and ensure an environment where safe and respectful conversations on the issues can be had. As a democracy, it’s important that all are empowered to exercise their constitutional voting rights in a safe environment.
Post-election we anticipate, regardless of the presidential election outcome, a time of emotional and potential volatile reactions given the polarity we are experiencing today. For our CSS community, it is critical that as we uphold our Benedictine values with our colleagues and our students, particularly today, the days leading up to November 3 and in the post-election period. I am asking that as a community, we all commit to these guiding principles:
- Respect all persons: Treat people with dignity and reverence.
- Hospitality: Listen with the ear of your heart, and respond with sensitivity to all.
- Community: Share responsibility to create and support the community; care for and take care of one another.
We make a difference in the communities we are a part of. This election season it is more important than ever that we live out these values.
Election Day and Employee’s Time off to Vote
With Election Day less than a week away, the Human Resources Office would like to remind employees about State voting leave laws. Thirty states have voting leave laws on the books, and twenty-three of those states mandate paid time off for voting. Under Minnesota law, employees have a right to be absent from work on Election Day for the time necessary to appear at their polling places and cast their ballots.
Under Minnesota law, this time is paid. We ask that employees provide advance notice of the time away to vote to their supervisors if at all possible. All States do not require providing time off and pay to vote on Election Day. However, we are electing to provide time off with pay to all employees regardless of work location. The time off and pay law applies only to Election Day and does not apply to early voting. If you have questions, please contact the Human Resources Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Alert Level: A huge thank you to our students, faculty and staff for your efforts to continue to keep the spread of COVID on our campuses and in our communities to a minimum. Your efforts to continue to take precautions have had a positive impact on cases. At this time, however, we determined to keep our Alert Level at “Yellow” due to the increase in community spread we are experiencing in St. Louis County and across Minnesota. Please continue to use every caution as you go out and about. What you are doing is working! Face coverings, physical distancing, hand-washing and as much as possible, staying home.
- Study Away: Due to the current COVID conditions world-wide, the College has made the decision to cancel all study away programs for the spring semester. Decisions about summer programs will be made in the coming months.
Coming Soon: Additional Mental Health Support for Employees
The College is pleased to announce that we will be launching a new mental health resource called Ginger for our employees. Ginger is an on-demand mental health system that provides immediate, personal support through a virtual environment. This resource is in addition to the existing Employee Assistance Program (EAP) already in place at CSS. More details will be sent out to the community in the coming weeks about this new employee benefit for the College.
First-Generation College Celebration
Next week we will be holding a number of events to celebrate our First-Generation students. These events are designed to provide information, support and commend these students. The week’s celebration will culminate with Friday’s Tri-Alpha First-Generation Honor Society induction. View the flyer to learn about the week’s events.
Peace and Justice lecture series focuses on “New Immigrant – Familiar Stories”
During an upcoming Alworth Center for Peace and Justice lecture author and journalist Suketu Mehta will present “We Are Here Because You Were There’. This year’s series’ speakers all focus on examining the causes of today’s immigration patterns, and look into the challenges and opportunities offered by this new wave of immigrants. The event will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 12 and is free and available for anyone to attend through Zoom. Attendees are asked to pre-register at css.edu/peace.
Faculty Colloquium explores the power of stories
The next School of Arts and Letters Faculty Colloquium will be held via Zoom from 3:30-4:50 on Friday, Nov. 13. As they present “Aadizookewinini-STORY, I TELL-YOU,” Monica Marciniak and Jennifer Niemi will discuss why storytelling is sacred for Deaf and Native peoples, as it explains identity, beliefs and ways of life. Helping our communities make sense of the world, this living art teaches harmony and balance between the environment and human condition. Visit https://www.css.edu/about/events/spotlight/
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across campus:
- Congratulations to Heidi Johnson, librarian who was accepted into the “Antiracism and Libraries,” six week online course based on Ibram X. Kendi’s recent book “How to be an Antiracist.”
- Dr. Sheryl Sandal, Dean, School of Nursing and members of her faculty will be attending the American Association of Colleges of Nursing inaugural Diversity Symposium which aims to advance equity, diversity and inclusion in nursing education. Kudos to Sheryl and her team.
- One Campus One Read, our inaugural campus wide book group is underway. Over 150 faculty and staff have signed up to read “A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota.” Many thanks to our small group facilitators in helping make this happen!
- Finally, please continue to check out the EDI website for events, news and updates.
Congratulations to our theatre program for a wonderful performance of Votes for Women via Facebook Live last week. It was great to see a live performance, even if it meant watching from our computer screens – great job!
The Fall season will soon be away from us with daylight savings time switching this weekend. This means our days will become shorter and the weather will be shifting to colder temperatures. Please take some time to think about how you might approach the shift in seasons to care for your mental, physical and spiritual wellness given current limitations. We encourage you to take your earned vacation time to recharge. Take advantage of the College’s WellU program and give some thought to accessing new activities to keep you healthy!
Have a happy and safe Halloween weekend ahead!