BSU President responds to student questions about fall semester, refunds

Faith Hensrud WEB.jpg
Bemidji State University President Faith Hensrud

BEMIDJI -- On Thursday night, BSU President Faith Hensrud hosted a Zoom meeting to allow students to ask her and her cabinet about concerns related to COVID-19, classes, refunds and the fall semester outlook.

Tentative fall semester plans

Many student questions were related to the status of classes for the fall semester, which is still largely undetermined. Students at BSU are in their fourth week of distance learning, with only two weeks left in the spring semester.

Currently, the fall semester is planned to occur as scheduled -- with in-person classes -- but administrators indicated that could change if necessary. Regardless, a number of changes have already been planned for the fall semester.

Acting Provost Allen Bedford addressed the fall semester saying, “our intention is to start that semester on schedule and in the instructional mode that was intended. So if the section was intended to be entered in person, we intend to start it in person if at all possible.”


However, he indicated that students may return to class in the fall wearing masks and physical distancing and that the status of extracurricular activities is still up in the air.

All student resident halls will be single occupancy for the fall semester, and residence hall move-ins will be staggered.

Summer classes will all be available online.


Students were eager to learn whether or not they qualified for any refunds.

BSU and NTC students are eligible to receive money through the Federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act. Through this act, $14 billion was allocated to higher education, of which, $7 billion will go directly to students. BSU will be receiving $1,406,649 and NTC will be receiving approximately $96,121, according to Vice President of Finance Karen Snorek.

A one time $225 award will be given to qualifying students. Federal Pell Grant recipients will receive an additional $175, Snorek said.

To qualify, students must have been enrolled in in-person classes as of March 13, and must be U.S. citizens. This excludes students who were enrolled exclusively in online classes prior to COVID-19 closures, and international students.

Vice President for Student Life and Success Travis Greene mentioned that these students who were left out could apply for Random Acts of Kindness grants from BSU.


“BSU has you covered and we got your back,” he said. “We're going to make sure that we can provide monetary assistance for students that need it.”

Students who were living in on-campus housing and moved due to COVID-19 should have already received partial housing refunds.


The group addressed the topic of commencement, which had originally been scheduled for May 8. A virtual commencement is being planned for May 8, and BSU is still accepting ideas for this celebration via a submission form on the website.

Greene said an in-person commencement may be held at the Sanford Center potentially after the fall semester, if conditions allow the audience to be six feet apart.

During the call, Hensrud also condemned reports of xenophobia against students of Asian descent related to COVID-19.

“BSU does not tolerate any type of ethnic harassment or bully,” she said. “Please remember viruses don't discriminate, and neither do we at BSU.”

Hannah Olson is a multimedia reporter for the Pioneer covering education, Indigenous-centric stories and features.
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