Frequently Asked Questions
Room & Board Credits and Tuition
Yes. Whitman College received funding from the CARES Act to help students facing financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Office of Financial Aid is working to distribute the CARES Act emergency funds to students based on financial need. Any current, degree-seeking student who was enrolled at least half time in spring 2020 and is eligible for Title IV financial aid is eligible for CARES Act funds. Students whose expected family contribution is less than $40,000 received an email with instructions on how to apply for CARES Act funds. Applications will be evaluated, and funds distributed in order to have the most impact on students in need. Requests for funds must be received by May 22, 2020.
The federal government is not allowing CARES Act money to be used to support international or undocumented students, however, Whitman College is committed to providing alternative emergency aid funding. International and undocumented students who are facing financial hardship because of COVID-19 should also submit the funding application. Applications are due by May 22, 2020. If you have questions about emergency funds, please contact the Office of Financial Aid at email@example.com.
Whitman will issue credits to students who didn’t receive the full value of room and board charges because they left campus during the spring 2020 semester as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tuition and other fees will not be refunded or credited because academic programs, many cocurricular programs and support services continued through distance learning and online mechanisms.
The college will calculate a pro-rated amount of unused meal plan charges for each student based on their particular meal plan. The pro-rated unused amount will be based on the period March 30, 2020, the day classes resumed after spring break, through the last day of classes in the academic year. The amount will also be adjusted based on the percentage of a student’s cost of attendance that was met by Whitman need-based or merit-based grant aid.
The college will calculate a pro-rated amount of housing charges based on the last day a student occupied the residence halls. The pro-rated unused amount will be based on the period March 30, 2020, the day classes resumed after spring break, through the last day of classes in the academic year. The amount will also be adjusted based on the percentage of a student’s cost of attendance that was met by Whitman need-based or merit-based grant aid.
The total credit will be applied first to any outstanding balances a student may owe the college at the end of the semester, such as charges to their regular account, for a payment plan or for rental housing.
At the end of the semester, any remaining credit will be applied to the coming (fall) semester. Graduating seniors or students who formally withdraw from the college will receive a check for the total amount of any funds remaining in their account after all outstanding balances are paid.
We can sympathize. When faced with the mandate from the state of Washington to stop in-person learning, we knew the right thing to do for most Whitman students was to allow all students to continue their progress toward their Whitman degree. It was especially important to ensure seniors graduated on time. With an unprecedented pandemic, distance education was the only option that would allow us to achieve these goals. While the distance option was not our first choice nor how we intended to teach the semester, faculty are working hard to ensure that courses meet their learning goals.
The hallmarks of a Whitman education, provided online or in person, are expensive. In fact, we are spending more to keep our (virtual) doors open than we were before the pandemic. A Whitman education’s expenses (and excellence) are the people: our faculty and staff.
The rapid transition to remote learning required our faculty and staff to work more hours and in new ways. Instead of taking spring break, our faculty reworked their classes, technology experts were training faculty and staff to use online tools, counseling staff explored telecounseling regulations, and Student Engagement Center reworked internships and job opportunities to move online where possible. Our physical plant staff learned new sanitation techniques that minimize infection risk for them and those remaining on campus. We have ramped up communication with daily updates to ensure you stay informed during all of this change. Many additional offices and people also contributed to our shared goals of supporting students and learning.
In addition to faculty and staff doing more work, Whitman also lived its values in helping students who needed assistance. This included supporting students who were unable to afford to travel home unexpectedly or needed the college to provide remote learning tools such as laptops that they would not otherwise be able to afford. It was important to Whitman—and we hope important to you—that all students be safe and have necessary tools to continue their education.
Further, unlike inexpensive online education that relies on enrolling hundreds of students at a time for a course with a single professor and little interaction, Whitman’s class sizes and individual attention remain unchanged. While virtual communication may be less convenient than a professor’s in-person office hours, our faculty are readily available via email, phone, videoconference and are utilizing other remote technologies.
We are steadfast in our belief that our dedicated faculty and staff must be, and deserve to be, compensated for their work.
Whitman faculty and staff have done everything in their power to maintain the quality of education and keep students on track, but we know that you chose Whitman because of our nationally-recognized in-person residential experience. We also prefer the residential small college model.
But the value of a Whitman education cannot be reduced to a single financial transaction, nor does our promise to you rest on the experience of a single semester (or part of a semester). We believe the value of a Whitman education lasts a lifetime, and our promise to you is a lifetime promise. As a result, we are committed to making decisions that ensure Whitman’s strength not just today, but into the future. Issuing even partial tuition refunds would jeopardize both our short-term and long-term strength.
And at the end of the semester, students will have new knowledge and the corresponding course credits and progress toward graduation, which we know holds significant value.
Whitman is fortunate to have an endowment, but spending this endowment on tuition refunds would not serve students well nor protect the value of a Whitman degree. It would harm students with the greatest financial need and undermine the financial health of the college. To understand why, you need to first understand what an endowment is, and what it does for a college.
Like most colleges and universities, the cost to run the college is far greater than what is paid in tuition. A big part of this financial gap is paid by earnings on our endowment. Whitman’s endowment creates investment income in much the same way that your personal savings might earn interest in a savings account. Each year we spend the endowment earnings to help make up the difference between the tuition revenue our students pay and our operating expenses to provide their education.
Spending down even a fraction of our endowment would mean less money in the college’s budget not just for one or two years, but forever. Long-term, this could force us to make financial decisions that would permanently damage the quality of a Whitman education, harm our commitment to providing access to low-income students through endowment-funded financial aid, and negatively impact our long-term financial stability.
Since our budget is based in part on the endowment’s market growth and the pandemic has caused a decline in the stock market, we do not anticipate having the same level of earnings available this year as in the recent past. Our portfolio losses mean that the additional costs associated with moving classes online, providing room and board credits, and assisting those students who needed help to get home have an even greater impact on our financial status. It is our fiscal responsibility to make decisions that mitigate the impact of the pandemic while preserving our ability to fulfill our educational mission.
We want to help if we can. We encourage you to reach out to the financial aid office to discuss your situation. And, while many students have been financially impacted by coronavirus, we do not believe that issuing across-the-board refunds is the best way to help those who are most in need of financial assistance.
The college has every intention of reopening in the fall with in-person instruction on campus in Walla Walla unless the federal, state or local government continues to advise against it. It is very likely that on-campus instruction will look different to allow for appropriate physical distancing.
Whitman is working to be able to provide remote learning opportunities for students with underlying health conditions or who are unable to return to campus because of travel restrictions.
The Whitman College campus is closed to the public, and access to all buildings is limited to authorized employees. See more information about building access. Family members, including children, are not permitted in campus buildings. The college moved all courses online after spring break and employees are encouraged to work from home when possible.
Everyone is allowed to exercise outside with proper social distancing. That means running, biking or hiking, for example, by yourself or with another person as long as you can keep a six-foot distance. Group sports and activities are not allowed, and Whitman's athletic facilities, including the outdoor tennis courts, are closed. Both public and private gatherings of any size are not allowed.
All athletic and fitness facilities are closed, including Baker Ferguson Fitness Center, Harvey Pool, the Sherwood Athletic Center, the Climbing Center, Bratton Tennis Complex, and Borleske Stadium and fields. The employee Movement that Matters programs are also canceled.
Students with need-based aid who find that they are running out of flex dollar points toward the end of the semester — due to the additional spring break meals on campus — can work with the Dean of Students Office for assistance.
Yes. All events on campus are canceled until further noticed. Access to Whitman facilities is limited to students, faculty and staff. Whitman-sponsored community-based volunteer programs, internships and other programs in the region are suspended until further notice.
Nonessential travel is highly discouraged by the College in accordance with federal guidelines. International travel is generally prohibited at this time. Check the CDC’s travel website and the U.S. Department of State website for more information.
The spring athletic season has been suspended at this time. All college-sponsored travel is suspended.
Whitman College strongly recommends that students return home if possible. Students who do not have a safe place away from campus are allowed to stay. However, those who plan to stay in Walla Walla should not travel, even regionally, for the remainder of the semester
If you live off campus you should consider if you are prepared to stay in your rental for several weeks with very limited opportunity to get supplies and have outside interaction. The CDC encourages shopping as normal to avoid shortages caused by hoarding, however, you should still have enough supplies on hand for you to be comfortable should movement be restricted. It is important to understand that the college will not be able to provide supplies to you if you are not prepared. North Hall will not be available for off-campus students who need to self-isolate.
If you have a safe place to go away from campus for the remainder of the semester, you are encouraged to not return to Walla Walla. If you do not have a safe place to be, you are permitted to return to campus.
If you have already left, please do not return to get your things unless absolutely necessary, and only after discussing your situation with Residence Life and Housing. The college will help box up and store your belongings until it is safe to return. Please contact your RD to make arrangements.
Yes. All you need to do is fill out the post-spring break travel form and your mail will be forwarded to the address provided.
On March 23, Gov. Jay Inslee issued a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. This means staying at home or in your residence hall unless you need to leave for something essential, such as to access healthcare services or supplies, get food or household products, or perform essential functions for businesses.
You may leave your hall to get food, pick up necessary supplies or to go to the doctor/pharmacy. You may also leave to enjoy the outdoors, provided you follow proper social distancing guidelines.
No. During the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, you may not visit other people’s residence halls or rooms. Do not congregate in groups in public areas. Practice social distancing in all aspects of your life.
Yes. Campus Security will do the same, and has the authority to inquire about and restrict your movements, as do local law enforcement agencies.
Students who do not comply with the order will be subject to sanctions under the student code of conduct. Campus security has the authority to enforce the order.
Answers to your questions about accessing online learning are available on the Online Learning Resources for Students website.
There are several resources available to help you with financial resources or food insecurity.
The Food Pantry is open in the Glover Alston Center every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. All students are welcome to take products from the food pantry. It is located on the second floor of the building.
If you have additional emergency financial needs, contact the Dean of Students Office. You can email Associate to the Dean of Students Bridget Jacobson for assistance. If you have needs related to a marginalized identity, religion or faith, please reach out to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion by emailing Laura Sanchez.
Additional financial assistance for educational expenses may be available through the Office of Financial Aid. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
While physical access to Penrose Library and Northwest Archives are not available, the library staff has worked hard to make digital resources available for our students. See the Remote Access to Resources and Services website for information about online databases and digital resources to help you. Librarians are also available via email and chat to answer your questions. The chat function is staffed seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
See this video to learn more about what virtual resources are available from Penrose Library.
Since academic buildings are closed affecting access to printers, the Whitman College Print Shop will be fulfilling your printing needs.
If you need something printed Monday through Friday, fill out this form before noon and choose a pickup time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. that same day. If your print request is received after noon, your order will be available on the following business day. Printing will not be available on the weekends.
Pickup will happen at Boyer House (34 Boyer Ave., next to the GAC, and across from the Walla Walla Sub Shop). Please enter through the front doors, pick up your printing and exit immediately. We also ask that you keep social distancing protocols in mind.
Student employees who can complete their jobs remotely may continue to work. Please check in with your supervisor. We are working on creative ways to come up with new student work opportunities. If you are eligible for work-study and cannot continue your existing position, please contact Financial Aid.
Courses will be online for the remainder of the semester, but we are committed to working with every senior to make sure they can graduate on time.
We will celebrate the Class of 2020 on Sunday, May 24, with a virtual ceremony. The ceremony will include remarks from Board of Trustees Chair Nancy Serrurier and President Kathy Murray. The senior class speaker is Maude Lustig ’20, and the keynote address will be given by Katie Krummeck ’03.
Seniors will be able to submit a short video clip for the ceremony, and every graduate’s name will be read by Provost Alzada Tipton. More information about how to participate in the ceremony will be emailed to seniors. Links to view the ceremony will be available at a later date.
If you do not have access to a desktop, laptop or tablet with a camera and/or high-speed internet access, please contact the Dean of Students Office for assistance. Students who are still on campus and don’t have reliable internet at home may consider staying on campus for the semester, but should be aware that services will be extremely limited and movement could be restricted.
Because faculty will be working remotely, there will be no in-person instruction. All meetings with students will happen online, including one-on-one meetings, small group meetings or any other configuration of faculty-student interaction.
Our current understanding is that faculty who need to be on campus to facilitate online learning are allowed to do so.
Yes. Under the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, all non-essential employees must be working remotely. If you are unable to work remotely, please reach out to your supervisor for further instruction. If you have questions about whether your duties are considered essential functions, please talk with your supervisor.
We also ask that each of you work with your supervisor to complete the telework agreement that you received in BambooHR.
Staff who need remote access to Colleague or Millennium should contact Mike Osterman at 509-527-5419 to ensure computers are set up for this access.
Because Whitman is a residential college, many employees must work on campus or remotely to provide services that are essential to residential life, campus health and safety, critical research, the protection of physical and intellectual assets, or the continuity or resumption of academic programs and operations. Cabinet officers (and designated department heads or supervisors) are responsible for determining which positions are necessary for essential services. Those who will continue to work on campus – because their jobs require it (and they are well) – may receive special training on safe practices or be advised to maintain social distancing such as a physical distance from others of at least 6 feet. If they have an underlying health condition or concern complicated by exposure to coronavirus, they may request a change in job duties, location, or hours by contacting Human Resources.
The Welty Student Health Center will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday for appointments. It is not accepting walk-in visits. The medical provider will be on-site from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesdays. During this time, the Health Center will not be open for overnight stays.
If you are sick or injured and it is not an emergency, call the Health Center at 509-527-5281 for a nurse consult. The nurse will make an appointment or advise you of appropriate next steps.
The outside doors will be locked, swipe card access only. A staff member will greet you in the entry way to check your temperature before access through interior doors.
Acute respiratory illness such as complicated cold, cough with fever or difficulty breathing will be referred to a higher level of care. These include: Walla Walla Clinic Walk-in clinic (509-525-3720) Providence Urgent Care (509-897-3000) or Providence St. Mary Emergency Department (509-897-2500).
The most common symptoms in individuals with COVID-19 include:
- Shortness of breath
In late April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) added six symptoms of the novel coronavirus to its list as health experts learn more from treating patients with the virus. The symptoms, which the CDC reports could appear two to 14 days after exposure to the virus, are:
- Repeated shaking with chills
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- New loss of taste or smell
The CDC is recommending wearing cloth face coverings in public settings, especially where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores). Using a cloth face covering may help slow the spread of the virus and prevent transmission. Do not use surgical masks or N-95 respirators, as these supplies are critical for our health care workers.
You can make a simple, no-sew face mask from clothing items such as T-shirts or bandanas. See guidelines on the CDC website.
The good news is that even though you feel sick, you probably don’t have coronavirus (COVID-19). If symptoms are mild, self-isolate (stay home) in order to prevent further spread of the illness. If you or anyone you know develop respiratory problems, shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, vomiting or the inability to keep fluid down, please call the Health Center for additional guidance at 509-527-5295. If you are in immediate medical distress call 911.
You can also call the Walla Walla County Department of Community Health Informational Hotline with questions at 509-524-2647.
If you are self-isolating due to illness, there are things you can do to increase your comfort and decrease your stress.
- Notify your parents, family or guardians of your illness. Connect with them daily with progress reports. People may worry — frequent contact may alleviate added stress.
- Stay home, wherever home is for you.
- Even better: Stay in your room to minimize exposure to friends and colleagues.
- Wear a face mask (available at the Health Center) if you need to leave your room for the restroom or kitchen
- Request a friend, RA or RD to arrange for meal delivery
- Monitor your symptom: Do you have a fever (disposable thermometers available through the Health Center)
- Take fever reducing medication like acetaminophen (Tylenol). You will feel better!
- Drink lots of liquids. Hot beverages may help decrease mucus production and sooth a sore throat. Do not drink alcohol.
- Read a book for pleasure. Now is no time for intense academics
- Text, Facetime or message a friend. Friends want to know how you are doing.
- Try to get more than your usual amount of sleep. Darken the shades to help sleep later in the morning. Every minute of sleep is beneficial
You can re-establish your regular routine after seven days or when you’re fever free for 72 hours.
Regardless of how you feel, CDC and Washington State Department of Health guidelines indicate you should stay home for 14 days, monitor your health for symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath), and practice social distancing by staying out of all public places and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others whenever possible.
The Health Center cannot test for COVID-19. If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, contact the Health Center at 509-527-5295 for advice on testing.
If you have a fever, most of us benefit from fever reducers like Tylenol (acetaminophen). Decongestants may also help with runny noses and cough syrup with expectorant may help with mucus.
If you are self-isolating or quarantining, yes, food can be delivered. Contact your RD or RA for assistance.
Viruses are tricky as they stick to nearly everything. Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Use sanitary wipes to clean surfaces like door knobs, table tops, keyboards and cell phones. Don’t share food or beverages and use only noncontact methods of greeting. Take good care of yourself and your immune system by eating healthy foods, minimizing sugar intake, getting regular sleep and physical activity, and drinking plenty of water.
You should monitor your health for symptoms (fever, cough and shortness of breath) and continue to practice a high level of social distancing. This includes staying out of public places and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others whenever possible.
It is normal to feel stressed about the unknowns we’re facing. Know that Whitman College is doing everything it can to keep our community protected. The entire campus support system is here for you, including your Residence Life staff, academic advisors, faculty and staff. If you need additional assistance, the Counseling Center staff will be available on an on-call basis for students who need assistance. Call 509-527-5195 for assistance. The CDC has also put together resources to help people cope with stress and take care of their mental health.
Due to the campus closure for COVID-19, the Counseling Center staff is unable to provide in-person services to students. However, we want to continue to provide our students with support, especially those who were already working with one of our counselors. Counselors will be able to meet with students via teletherapy, through a HIPPA-compliant interactive video/audio service. Due to state law, only students physically located in Washington state can receive teletherapy. It is not suitable for all students. Talk with your counselor or call 509-527-5195 to see if teletherapy is appropriate for you. Students who are not located in Washington can receive a referral to a therapist in their area.
A counselor is on-call at all hours to assistant students who are facing a mental health emergency. Call 509-527-5195 to be connected.
During the campus closure, all group therapy sessions are suspended.