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The Squirrel’s Scoop, 2/9/2022

Welcome to The Squirrel’s Scoop—The Clerk’s weekly news bulletin. The Squirrel’s Scoop brings you the biggest stories from the past week in one place.

COVID-19 Policy Changes

On Tuesday, February 1st, Vice President of the College Jesse Lytle updated the Haverford community about changes to the College’s COVID-19 policies effective last week. Spectators were reallowed at home athletic contests beginning last Monday, January 31st. Athletes and fans of Haverford’s winter sports met this change with excitement and are eager to get back to supporting their favorite teams. Bella Yin ‘24 expressed her enthusiasm about returning to athletic events, specifically basketball games: “It’s so fun being able to watch live sports games with my friends and embrace our school spirit!” 

Effective one week ago, on February 2nd, the indoor masking policy changed, as well. Students are now permitted to unmask in pairs when close to one another, as long as both parties consent. This applies to indoor dining at the Dining Center and private rooms in the libraries and other buildings. 

Lytle also confirmed in his email that snapshot COVID-19 testing is no longer mandatory for students and faculty, despite greater case counts due to the omicron variant. Defending this decision, Lytle wrote, “We are moving in this direction because we know that testing is helpful for knowing one’s status, but it does not prevent COVID transmission.” He explained that the College’s other, more cautious safety measures, such as the requirement of booster vaccinations, are better equipped to prevent the transmission of the virus.

Employee Positivity Rates Remain High

Since the beginning of 2022, Haverford has reported over 40 employee COVID-19 cases. This case count is over three times higher than the number of cases last semester, reflecting the recent nationwide spike in cases brought on by the omicron variant. During the first few weeks of the calendar year, both faculty and staff had the option of working remotely where possible, but now all classes are being taught in-person, and most staff have resumed work in-person, as well.

Though the college’s high restrictions are slowly rolling back and employee cases have since dropped to the single digits, regional case counts remain relatively high. After her professor canceled class due to an exposure, Sophie Reisbord ’24 explained how “this kind of thing happens during a pandemic, so most students are used to being flexible.” Reisbord notes, “it just goes to show that COVID is still defining daily life on campus.”

Benjamin Le, Associate Provost for Faculty Development, clarifies that COVID sick-time is no different than any other health concern or emergency a professor might have, except that they “may feel well enough to teach remotely from home.” In an email, he told The Clerk that a professor who tests positive for or has been exposed to COVID might “teach remotely on Zoom, arrange for alternate in-class activities that can occur in their absence, substitute with asynchronous activities that students can complete on their own time outside of class, or cancel class.”

Danielle Lynch Announced as Director of Athletics

In an email to the Haverford community on Tuesday, February 8th, Dean of the College John McKnight announced that he and his hiring committee have selected a new Director of Athletics. Their selection, Danielle Lynch, will begin her position at the College in just three weeks on March 1st. She will replace Micheal Vienna, who has occupied the Interim Director of Athletics role since August 2021. 

In his email, McKnight noted that Lynch is coming to Haverford from Susquehannah University, where she held the position of Associate Director of Athletics. However, according to the Haverford Athletics website, this position is not the only one that will prepare her for her role at Haverford: “Lynch brings more than 20 years of experience in college coaching and athletics administration to Haverford and is a respected professional within the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion.” Concluding his message to the community, McKnight expressed, “We look forward to welcoming Danielle to campus next month.”

FAB Invites Students to Enter The Marriage Pact

On Saturday, February 5th, Haverford students received an email from Fords Against Boredom (FAB) regarding the club’s partnership with the Marriage Pact. The email defines the Haverford Marriage Pact as “a large-scale matching event that provides students with their optimal marital back-up plans via algorithm.” To participate, students must fill out a questionnaire that asks about their values and interests. Then, the algorithm combines psychology, computer science, and market design to match students who completed the survey. On Valentine’s Day, all participants receive an email with the name and contact information of the person on their campus with whom they were matched.

According to FAB member Keeton Martin ‘22, the Marriage Pact started as a statistics project done by a student at Stanford University. However, it has recently transformed from a statistics project to a startup. By partnering with schools around the country, such as Haverford, the startup founders are hoping to create traditions of participation at these colleges before charging for the use of their algorithm. FAB is hoping to create such a tradition at Haverford, as they are shooting for a 50-75% participation rate, which has been achieved at most liberal arts colleges that the project has gone to previously. Martin stated his primary goal in bringing the Marriage Pact to Haverford: “I just hope that people meet other people on campus that they don’t know as well.” He added, “and maybe someone someday gets married to someone that they met through the Marriage Pact.”

Does the Marriage Pact work? Thus far, it has started multiple relationships, one of which resulted in marriage and allowed a plethora of students to plan first dates with others on their campus. According to Martin, this is enough to say that the project has been successful: “It really depends on what your metric for success is but I’d say it’s pretty cool that they’ve already succeeded in creating one actual marriage.”

New Gallery Opening: Condition Report

A couple of weeks ago, Condition Report, an exhibition by William Powhida, opened at The Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery. Last Thursday, Powhida gave an artist talk to offer students a deeper understanding of the exhibit. According to the gallery’s website, Condition Report explores “the often unobservable phenomena at play in American finance, culture, and politics”. It visualizes “the current condition and possible futures of the American project.”

Watercolor paintings, drawings, and prints comprise the gallery, which forms an interlocking web of people, companies, and concepts around the gallery’s core themes. The gallery is open to students and off-campus visitors through March 4.

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