Jim’s Journal: Where We Are Right Now

The risks and spread of the Coronavirus have made this week one of the most challenging of my professional life. Every day – virtually every hour of every day – has seen a change at a campus which is impacting one of our chapters.

And, believe me, I understand that the impacts of this pandemic on me and our students pale in comparison to the real-life dangers many are facing.

As I write this (and I’m sure things will change dozens of times before you read this) more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have moved their courses to online learning. Many of those schools are allowing their students to remain on campus in their dorms and eating in their cafeterias. Several, though, have begun closing their campuses completely and asking students to move home and finish their semester’s coursework online.

Our first concern at AEPi International is for the health and safety of our students and staff. Last week, we sent all of our undergraduates an email detailing some of the simpler things which can be done to prevent the spread of the disease. This week, we’ve been working with each chapter’s executive board members to discuss what can be done to keep chapters running during this time of uncertainty and distance learning. We’ve also been working with universities and the tenants in our properties to do what we can to clean and sanitize them and to understand the implications of the new campus protocols.

AEPi International’s traveling staff – our Educational Leadership Consultants and Jewish Life Programming Associates – have been pulled from the road and are either working from Indianapolis or from their homes.

The AEPi Foundation has also canceled several upcoming events. Please make sure you go to the calendar on our website to see what events are taking place.

So, now what?

The AEPi International staff is continuing to work with our chapters and undergraduate Brothers to help them stay safe, stay engaged in their academics and to create programs to continue to develop the future leaders of the world’s Jewish communities.

We’re developing contingency plans for our chapters and our upcoming programs. Like virtually everyone, planning for this type of an unprecedented event has been very challenging. The impacts will be felt for a long time to come.

I’m proud of the creativity and hard work my staff has shown in putting together these programs for our chapters. I’m also proud of how our undergraduates are responding and their commitment to AEPi and our success.

Our surroundings may have changed. Our hygiene habits have hopefully improved. Our properties are hopefully cleaner. Our commitment to our mission – and its importance at this time of a global crisis – has never wavered.

I hope you and your families stay safe.