Kat Namon ’22
This past Tuesday, Oct. 13, the faculty met to discuss two motions regarding the Spring 2021 semester, as well as Summer Session I. The Curriculum Committee introduced the first motion which moved that, effective for the Spring 2021 semester and Summer Session I, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, teaching classes in-person during these semesters “may not be advisable or possible for some faculty and students.”
The motion proposed that if courses are not offered or taken in-person, that the faculty would be able to “offer hybrid and remote courses for the entirety of the Spring 2021 semester and Summer 2021 Session I and the college temporarily lifts the prohibition against the inclusion of remote and hybrid courses to be counted toward the requirements for graduation.”
The motion was a precautionary move, taken in part because of the ever-changing situation posed by the global coronavirus outbreak, and does not determine presently which courses will be remote. The faculty approved similar measures for the Fall 2020 semester earlier this year after reaching agreement in June.
It further provides the faculty with more flexibility in determining how the spring and summer semesters will proceed. The motion also included a proviso that the motion was adopted for “potential use only in the continuing COVID-19 emergency.” Students will also be allowed to continue to submit petitions to transfer credits from courses taken at consortium institutions as they were allowed to during this Fall 2020 semester.
The motion also clarified that in no case would all courses in this hybrid form intended to count for one full credit “consist of fewer than 39 hours of direct instruction.” Additionally, it required that the faculty ensure that students enrolled in a particular course “do not lack the resources required to complete the course.” Prior to voting to pass the motion, Professor and Chair of the Language Department Johannes Evelein voiced a procedural concern that included faculty governance and retention issues that the motion might pose. He stated that he senses that students “are greatly bothered by the fact that they find themselves in isolation on campus, and the prospect of this continuing in the spring and even Summer [Session] I is greatly concerning.” Evelein added that he worries that the ongoing situation could “be a serious retention issue in the spring” and questioned whether the motion should also address Summer Session I.
Evelein also spoke to the language used in part D of the motion, which states that the motion would be implemented upon the continuation of the COVID-19 emergency. Evelein asked that if “the emergency is no longer an emergency, that the faculty would reconvene and pass a motion to annul the current motion?” In response to this question, Associate Dean of the Curriculum Committee Mitch Polin clarified that the motion allows for “the possibility of remote instruction, it is not mandating that there be remote instruction.” Polin also addressed Evelein’s first point raised about the timing of the motion, noting that “now to make those plans… I don’t know whether something miraculous were to happen that we would reconvene some time in the spring and shut down the remote courses, it seems unlikely.”
Acting Dean of the Faculty Sonia Cardenas also added more information on why the Spring 2021 semester and Summer Session I are both addressed under the motion, indicating that “it is important for those two to be grouped together for financial aid purposes, so we have to think of them for broader reasons jointly.”
The next faculty meeting is scheduled to be held next month on Tuesday, Nov. 10.