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University-funded summer programs to be conducted remotely

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, University administrators have urged programs to suspend summer grants that are yet to be awarded and to provide stipends only to students participating in remote experiences, according to recent announcements from Stanford in Government (SIG) and the Rowland and Pat Rebele Journalism Internship Program (Rebele). 

Additionally, Provost Persis Drell announced in an April 2 email to the undergraduate community that Stanford is not planning to host on-campus residential programs, and that the academic Summer Session will be online-only. 

“It appears increasingly likely that some level of social distancing will be needed for some time, and a return to ‘normal’ campus activities will not be able to occur overnight,” Drell wrote. “We have concluded that it simply is not feasible to proceed with normal programming this summer.” 

The provost additionally noted that “many programs will need to make new plans” and asked that “each program provide information to its constituents within the next week about its updated plans for the summer.” 

According to information from SIG, Rebele and the Haas Center for Public Service, the University’s change in policy includes the cancellation of all in-person University-sponsored internships and fellowships. That includes those provided through the Cardinal Quarter, which grants students the opportunity to engage in a quarter-long public service experience. Among the 500 opportunities offered through Haas are more than 80 SIG fellowships and stipends: fully funded, policy-centric internships at partner organizations across the country. 

“We recently received notification that the University has requested that summer programs like ours suspend award grants,” wrote SIG’s Fellowships and Stipends Team in a recent email. “Based on this, and in response to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, we must cancel Round 2 of SIG Stipends for 2020 … Please know that we share your deep disappointment, but also know the decision to protect our collective health and well-being is the right one.” 

Those who received stipends in the first application pool have the opportunity to transition to a remote work experience and retain their stipend, if such a change is feasible for the host organization.

“For students not interested or able to do a remote experience this summer, we have offered the option for them to defer their fellowship to next summer’s program,” wrote SIG Vice Chair of Fellowships Grace Romer in an email to The Daily.

Romer predicted that six to 10 additional students would have received funding through the second round of SIG stipends, which typically occurs in April. 

Though funding for SIG programs is provided by independent donors, the organization responded to the University’s advice and consulted with Cardinal Quarter in making its decision. 

“We support the University in protecting our community during these unprecedented times,” Romer wrote. “Working with students and community partners to explore remote work options this summer and opportunities to serve next summer will continue to strengthen these important relationships.” 

All Cardinal Quarter summer programs are subject to the same conditions; only those working remotely will be able to receive stipends, and those who are unable or do not wish to do so have the opportunity to defer their fellowship to next summer. 

“The [University’s] policy will allow us to continue to support Haas Center Cardinal Quarter opportunities on a remote-work basis for students who identify meaningful remote-work experiences,” wrote Haas Senior Program Director Jon McConnell in an email to The Daily. 

McConnell noted that neither Haas nor University leadership requested that awards that have already been granted be rescinded. 

As a result of these changes and their financial implications, the University has waived the summer earnings expectation that typically applies to financial aid packages for all incoming students and continuing undergraduates. Students who receive financial aid are usually expected to contribute their summer earnings to tuition expenses. 

For those participating in Cardinal Quarter, the Haas Center provides a portion of each student’s summer earning expectations directly to the University, provided that the student receives financial aid. This summer, however, because students are no longer responsible for the summer earning expectation, Haas will be providing a base stipend of $5,500 for all students who are engaging in remote work experiences through Cardinal Quarter. 

In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson E.J. Miranda noted that “by waiving the summer work contribution, the University is providing almost $5 million in support to undergraduate students who receive financial aid.”

However, those who are unable to shift their plans to a remote experience will no longer be able to receive the financial stipends upon which they may have been relying — in addition to other financial stressors resulting from the current pandemic.

For some Rebele summer interns, who receive stipends for summer journalism internships through the Stanford department of communication, the transition to remote work poses challenges. Newsrooms across the country, including ones like The Seattle Times that were planning to offer internships via Rebele funding, have canceled their internship programs altogether. 

“The [Rebele-funded] offer I had was from a really small, hyperlocal newsroom, and as of now they don’t think it’s likely that they would be able to support a remote intern,” wrote Daily staffer Danielle Echeverria ’20 in an email to The Daily. “I’m a senior now and co-terming in journalism next year, so this is really my last opportunity to have a summer internship and get that experience. I think it’s going to be very difficult to get hired as a reporter after I graduate from the coterm next year if I can’t somehow figure something out for this summer.” 

Contact Georgia Rosenberg at georgiar ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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