On Student Life in this AutumnTue, Dec 1, 2020
On Student Life in this Autumn
Dear Students of Waseda University,
December 1, 2020
I hope that you are all well. Today, I am writing to offer some words of encourage for these two final months of the Autumn Semester. I imagine that many of you freshmen and some of you sophomores have had neither face-to-face classes nor events with other students on campus so far this year. We, faculty members and staff, have been concerned about the situation.
I would like to inform you about the present state of university facilities and student activities so that you can feel some sense of student life at Waseda.
First, as for the state of our facilities on campus now, all the gates of our campuses are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (and until 6:00pm on weekends) seven days a week. You are free to come and go. It may be worth visiting your campus to take in the scenery of your university, even though many fewer students are on campus compared with normal years.
The following museums are open: on Waseda campus, the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Aizu Museum of East Asian arts, Waseda University History for Tomorrow Museum; on Toyama campus, Waseda Sports Museum; and on Honjo campus, Honjo-Waseda no Mori Museum. You can also visit the Okuma Garden (9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., open only on weekdays), which is the site of the residence of Mr. Okuma Shigenobu, the founder of Waseda University. You may enjoy seeing the leaves turning red and yellow in the garden.
All the libraries of Waseda are also now open. The seats in the reading room of each school have been limited to protect you against COVID, but those reading rooms are planning to relax the standards to accept more students.
The student union is also open for student activities. You can see some activities of students’ circles regardless of whether or not you participate in any circle. Watching their activities could be fun, to feel the energy of student life at Waseda.
I would like to tell you about some of the activities of the varsity clubs of the Athletic Department. The Waseda Baseball Team won the championship of the Baseball League of Six Universities, clinched by a victory over our arch rival, Keio University. The Waseda Rugby Football Team has won six consecutive matches in their League, including a victory over Keio University. The Rugby Football Team will have a final game with their arch rival, Meiji University on December 6 at Chichibuno-miya Rugby Football Stadium. (The game will be televised via NHK; you may purchase tickets via the internet for the live event). Watching the game always gives me a unique feeling of connection with Waseda and with the team.
Members of varsity athletic clubs and sports circles have been under strict self-control to prevent any infections. It is noteworthy that varsity club members have rarely generated clusters of COVID-19 infections. They are aware that the entire team will not be allowed to participate in any games or in practices if even a single member gets infected.
It also gives me great pleasure to tell you about “Waseda-sai 2020 (Student Festival 2020).” The student members of the “Waseda-sai Administrative Staff” have been planning for this event since 2003 without any help from faculty members or university staff. “Waseda-sai 2020” was held online on November 7 and 8, 2020. About 240 circles or groups and about 5,000 students participated in performing drama or dances, play songs or show other activities in real on campus during “Waseda-sai 2020.” During those days including practices and preparations, they have demonstrated very high levels of self-control and discipline. Only in two groups, one person each was infected with the COVID-19, and as a consequence those two groups gave up coming to campus to perform during “Waseda-sai 2020.”
The university acknowledges the strong wish of varsity athletic clubs or student circles to engage in their activities, and therefore permits these activities as long as they are able to prevent COVID infections. Those students are clearly aware of their own responsibility and understand that they are responsible as a team.
Lastly, and most importantly, let me explain about teaching. We faculty members and university administrative staff clearly distinguish between attending face-to-face classes and participating in student activities. If the university decided to offer face-to-face classes for many courses, the students in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area would feel obligated to come to campus to attend those in-person classes. Facing the strong possibilities that students or professors are infected, we thought that we should not force any students to come to campus for class meetings. We have therefore conducted in-person teaching in a very limited way in this autumn semester.
We will adhere to this philosophy and policy for the time being. For Spring Semester 2021, however, and insofar as the COVID-19 situation permits, we will convert about 70% of classes from online to face-to-face. Please keep wearing masks, washing your hands frequently, gargling, and measuring your temperature every morning. Please avoid parties or group dinners to protect yourselves. We can increase the number of in-person classes from spring 2021 only if everyone adheres to these strict limitations.
I wish I had sent this message of encouragement much earlier. I apologize for the delay on account of my hesitation, but I hope you understand the situation in which there was a sharp increase in infections in November around the world, including Japan.
With cordial best wishes,
Aiji Tanaka, President