COVID-19

Student Life

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ACCESS AND EQUITY
 

1. Will the Access Fund be available again in the fall to help students who need financial support to buy hardware or pay for internet access?

The Access Fund will not be able to support these costs during the fall semester since Cornell will be open and operating a residential semester. The Access Fund was able to support these needs during spring 2020 because of the emergency pandemic conditions that prevented on-campus options. If you have questions about the type of expenses that might be covered by the Access Fund or the Law School’s emergency funds, please contact Financial Aid before incurring them. Law students who experience unforeseeable situations that lead to financial distress are encouraged to contact the Law School’s Financial Aid Office or Dean of Students Office to discuss available options.

2. My laptop or computer is outdated and I need to upgrade it for online instruction but don’t have funding. Will the law school emergency fund cover the cost?

Law students’ approved cost of attendance accounts for technology needs, including a laptop or computer, which is needed to successfully manage the expectations and assigned work in the program of legal education when there is not a global health emergency and is helpful for remote learning as well. We understand that some students are reluctant to incur additional loans to finance these necessary technology costs, however, the approved financial aid package is designed to cover the cost of attendance and is the primary means by which the Law School meets students’ needs in this regard. Emergency funding is designed for unforeseeable expenses for which students cannot plan and for which no other resources are available. Students are encouraged to consult with the Law School’s Financial Aid Office who will direct students to other resources if and as appropriate.

MENTAL HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
 

1. I find that the online learning format and the pandemic itself triggers anxiety for me, which impacts my ability to focus and perform at my best. What resources can I access at Cornell that can help me manage this issue?

Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Cornell Health is fully staffed and operational for telehealth services. Cornell Health has been operating via telehealth during the entire COVID pandemic and has had excess capacity in clinical mental health services this entire time. Students are encouraged to schedule an appointment with a therapist if they need to do so. Additionally, the Law School will also explore options for signature holistic health and stress management activities in collaboration with campus partners including guided meditation and yoga classes, which may need to be offered online due to public health guidance.

2. Covid-19 has had a significant economic and health impact on me and my family. Where do I go to seek help if I need someone to talk to about my problems?

For clinical mental health needs, CAPS in Cornell Health is fully staffed and operational for telehealth services. Students who need financial support should first contact the Law School Financial Aid Office. Additional support can be provided by talking with staff in the Law School’s Dean of Students Office.

3. Will Cornell Health be open for in-person health visits in the fall?

Cornell Health is currently open for telehealth. In-person visits are limited to those with COVID-related illness as will be the case when classes resume in August. Cornell Health is located on Ho Plaza at the intersection of College Avenue and Campus Road, a short walk (less than 5 minutes) from the Law School.

MODIFICATIONS TO STUDENT LIFE
 

1. Are there public health guidelines for social events that must be followed?

All students, whether residing on campus or off campus in private residences, will be expected to comply with NYS guidelines related to physical distancing, the size of social gatherings, and mandatory face coverings. Hosting or participating in a social event that violates these guidelines on or off campus will be considered a violation. Details will be provided to student organization leadership before the start of the fall semester.

2. I’m on the e-board for my student club. What do I need to know about holding club meetings and activities as it relates to social distancing? Can we reserve meeting space on campus?

All student activities supported by law school-administered funds must comply with current public health guidelines. Law student organizations are encouraged to host events and programs virtually, particularly early in the fall semester. Because all classrooms and some common spaces, such as the Saperston Student Lounge, will be dedicated to the primary mission of delivering instruction, and because social distancing in the classroom will have the effect of reducing capacity in most classrooms by approximately 80%, we will assign access to classroom space on the basis of the perceived pedagogical or other institutional need for in-person interaction or instruction. As a result, meeting space will be at a premium. The Law School is working on the creation of supplemental meeting spaces to enhance student life and activities. Student organizations will reserve those spaces through MRM, though availability to do so will be delayed until late September or early October. For in-person meetings, attendance must be taken and members must adhere to social distancing guidelines.

3. Will my student organization be allowed to host guest speakers from outside the Ithaca area?

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, guest travel from outside the Ithaca area to campus is restricted at this time. Law student organizations are encouraged to invite guest speakers to present via Zoom.

4. Will my student organization be allowed to use its budget to purchase gift cards or otherwise sponsor hosted meals for members who attend virtual programs or events?

Unfortunately, the University’s processes do not permit the purchase of gift cards and there are not sufficient personnel resources to process individual receipts for food orders for each attendee at student-organization sponsored virtual events. The Law School Dean of Students Office is available to advise student organizations as they plan creative, engaging programming and community building events that comply with current public health guidelines and university financial policies.

5. What will the university do to support safer extracurricular activities?

Through the creation of outdoor and indoor spaces, virtual drop-in hours for organization leaders to connect with staff, and support leveraging technology for meetings and activities, the university will provide tools to ensure that social and extracurricular experiences remain an essential aspect of campus life.

STAFF SUPPORT
 

1. What staff support and guidance will be available to students?

Many Law School staff will continue to work from home during the fall semester in order to reduce density within the Law School building. Individual departments will work to ensure a high level of responsiveness and accessibility to meet student needs.

STUDENT BEHAVIOR COMPACT
 

1. Will the university’s behavior compact apply to law students?

Yes, the behavior compact applies to all university students--professional, graduate, and undergraduate, whether living on or off campus in the Ithaca area.

2. Is there any kind of educational class or training that students will receive so there is consistent messaging regarding COVID to all students?

Yes. All Cornell students will be required to attest to their understanding of all policies prior to the start of fall classes. A supplemental tutorial is being created. Further, as lawyers in training, Cornell Law School students are expected to adhere to the Standards for Professional Conduct and the school’s learning outcomes, and to demonstrate the civility and decorum expected of members and future members of the legal profession. Those outcomes set forth an expectation that students will demonstrate the practical skills fundamental to exceptional lawyering, including the ability to appreciate the impact of their conduct in diverse professional settings, both formal and informal, in-person and online. In this context, all law students are expected to abide by the behavioral compact as responsible university citizens and future members of the legal profession.

3. How will the terms of the behavioral contract be enforced?

There will be different mechanisms in place for the various elements of the behavioral agreement. Details are not yet finalized, but repeated violations can include educational sanctions and referral to the Judicial Administrator, as well as consideration in the character and fitness certification process.

4. What happens if I violate a COVID-related policy? What is the progression?

Specific details related to the disciplinary progression will be provided prior to the start of the fall semester. While public health education is the primary approach that will be taken, repeated violations and egregious violations can result in more substantial consequences, including referral to the Judicial Administrator, notice to bar exam officials, and suspension from Cornell University.

TUITION
 

1. Will law school tuition be reduced due to hybrid or online instruction?

Tuition is set typically early in the calendar year, is approved by the University Board of Trustees, and is announced campus-wide, such as in articles like this one. As noted in that article, the University’s budget parameters were set at the Trustees’ meeting in January, which would have occurred before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The costs of delivering legal education have not changed with the move to hybrid instruction. Additionally, as noted in the article linked above, “that percentage increase – the same as last year’s, lower than the two previous years and in line with tuition changes announced by peer institutions earlier this year – will remain in place, but the university is committed to addressing any higher need for financial aid.” Students who are experiencing additional, unexpected expenses due to the pandemic may apply for emergency funding and may seek additional guidance from the Law School’s Office of Financial Aid to do so.