• Doug Most

    Assistant VP, Executive Editor, Editorial Department Twitter Profile

    Doug Most is a lifelong journalist and author whose career has spanned newspapers and magazines up and down the East Coast, with stops in Washington, D.C., South Carolina, New Jersey, and Boston. He was named Journalist of the Year while at The Record in Bergen County, N.J., for his coverage of a tragic story about two teens charged with killing their newborn. After a stint at Boston Magazine, he worked for more than a decade at the Boston Globe in various roles, including magazine editor and deputy managing editor/special projects. His 2014 nonfiction book, The Race Underground, tells the story of the birth of subways in America and was made into a PBS/American Experience documentary. He has a BA in political communication from George Washington University. Profile

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There are 15 comments on President Brown: “It Is Important We Learn How to Do This and Make It Better As We Go”

  1. I continue to find President Brown’s position on matters of race very complicated. Is it a good thing that he found funding for an antiracism center at BU? Absolutely. Is it a good thing that he did this while disregarding the physical and mental welfare of many people of color in and around the BU community in making his re-opening plan? I think that’s a more difficult ethical case to make.

    I also find his remarks about the “louder” voices disagreeing with his plans to be illuminating. If you won’t listen to people within the walls of your office, they’re going to raise their voices outside of it. Good leaders lead; to use more corporate language, they get “buy-in” from people. How much buy-in did President Brown get? It’s hard to quantify, as he didn’t solicit much, especially about the last-minute decisions he and Provost Morrison sprang on the University about the classroom not being a vector of possible COVID infection. I can’t help but wonder how faculty and staff at all levels would respond to anonymous surveys about their support for and concerns about re-opening now that the picture is becoming clearer.

    1. On a related note: for this kind of experiment to succeed, it’s a well-documented fact in public health circles that trust is necessary between the parties involved. President Brown did not ask for people’s consent to his policies, which depend on them taking on risks to their personal health that seem to be growing by the day (see the policy on not notifying faculty or students on possible coronavirus transmission in the classroom). How can he possibly be surprised or affronted that people are afraid and angry now?

      Also, under these circumstances, it’s noteworthy that while he is perfectly comfortable with asking people to share extraordinarily private information with his administration on a daily basis (did they have diarrhea today?), he’s refusing to provide stakeholders with more information about the financial reasoning behind his decisions. Was this really the only way of keeping BU going? All people have is the administration’s word that it is so.

      1. “How can he possibly be surprised”—I share this question. The public reaction seems completely predictable to me—a public health professional educated at BUSPH.

    2. I think it’s disingenuous for BU leadership to talk about how the vast majority of surveyed students said they had a preference for in-person learning. I’m sure a lot of students PREFER it, all other things being equal, but that’s not the same as thinking it’s a good idea under the circumstances. I’d PREFER to get to collaborate with my co-workers in person, but that doesn’t mean I think it’s safe for us all to work in the office right now.

  2. “I find plenty of people who are happy we are back—they seem to be quieter than the ones who are counter to that.”

    People tend to speak louder when they feel they’re not being heard.

  3. Other universities, both local and national, have managed to switch to either all or mostly remote learning. Why is it so important that BU brings nearly all of its students back? Are their finances so much shakier than at those other places that they need to risk the health of the entire Boston area to survive as an institution? If so, shouldn’t the current administration be held accountable for this state of affairs?

    Alternatively, BU owns an awful lot of real estate. Bold, creative, outside-the-box kind of thinking (the kind of thinking BU tells its students to engage in) might have suggested that it sell some of that real estate to protect both jobs and health this fall. 

  4. Of course, people who are being screwed and ignored speak up loudly.

    The first step for acting responsibly as a business enterprise is to seek out and listen to people who may be harmed by a business decision. The next step is to prevent and mitigate the likely harm, prioritizing attention to the most severe harm. That’s not rocket science.

    As a long time neighbor of BU in North Brookline, a block away from BU, with many students living off campus, neither I nor any of our neighbors were consulted about the risks to us of BU’s reopening.

    Now I learn that my future health and longevity must depend on the wise judgment of 18 year olds, who have been cooped up for four months with their parents, not to attend parties where the virus is readily transmitted. And I find out that BU doesn’t know where its off campus students are living, because it doesn’t ask.

    Really?

    And I also I learn from a BU ethics professor that BU has juked the stats of its Dashboard to make it look better, and that a professor of its School of Public Health has now called on BU to rescind its reopening because it’s contrary to public health.

    Huh? What is going on here?

    I have been involved in law/business ethics/human rights for decades as a corporate lawyer, in academia, and in internatinoal civil society. I participated in the drafting and implementation of the 2011 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which is the international gold standard on the subject.

    I wish that Professor Brown had been advised by public health experts from his own School of Public Health, not to mention BU’s neighbors, before deciding to subject the community to the increased risk of sickness and death.

    That’s just being responsible.

  5. There is no dialogue at this institution. One look at the BU HR website with hundreds of open positions and a long list of recent promotions while we are supposed to have a hiring freeze clearly indicates the state of the University’s finances. Lower paid non-exempt employees (many of them minorities) were disproportionately affected by frozen salaries and stoppage of university retirement contributions. Therefore, it is hard to buy into the social justice crusade preached by leadership. The higher levels of administration are too far removed from the realities of BU operations and overseeing functions have been transferred to the herds of inconsistent vice presidents and executive directors. Until the university will start hiring and promoting based on merit, holding upper management accountable and valuing faculty’s contribution, we should not foresee any improvements in BU’s financial situation.

  6. President Brown asked for feedback.

    Item 1: don’t assign in-person classes to poorly ventilated rooms that have not been upgraded, and then tell instructors and staff that there is a huge backlog of room change requests due to in-person classes being assigned to poorly ventilated rooms that have not been upgraded.

  7. On the BU moms page many freshman feeling isolated in upperclassmen dorms like Myles . Can the RA do more or more connecting activities ? To help with isolation and depression. Thx if someone from admin can monitor the FB mom page would help thx

    1. Thank you for your comment, SD. We in Residence Life are actively assisting students in connecting with other students, and students will be seeing more opportunities via their residences. I appreciate your comment about first-year students who live with continuing students; we always try to pay close attention to them.

  8. I agree with most of the comments above, and I’m glad to see people are commenting here. I’d like to invite people to provide comments on the latest post on my blog, With All Due Caution, which now has many readers. Michael Siegel’s recent guest post there has had more than 4,400 people visit it (in three days).

    My new post concerns the chaos many people are experiencing on campus this week, as class moderators fail to turn up, classes fail to have rooms assigned to them at all, or have badly ventilated rooms assigned to them, and LfA turns out to be extremely hard to make work in practice. Please provide comments regarding your own experiences this week, anonymously if you wish.

    https://allcaution.com/2020/09/02/chaos-on-campus/

    Older posts concern such issues as the fact that the present COVID Dashboard presents data in a highly misleading fashion, that the policy choice to not inform instructors when a student in their in-person classes tests positive is negligent, that the university does not have a (good) pandemic information policy, and that lack of tenure is holding many faculty members back from speaking up.

  9. “We have reinvented what a residential college experience looks like, but I have no illusions that we got it all right. I want to hear from students, faculty, and staff, and we will adjust.”

    Notify the faculty and students of a class when a fellow student in their class has tested positive for COVID19. Don’t tell us who it is, don’t even tell us which class it is. Just tell us that it happened, that “someone we have been in contact with has tested positive.”

    That small level of transparency, I think, would help a lot with the “loud voices” speaking out against these policies.

    It wont solve every reservation about in-person teaching, but it would be a step in the right direction.

  10. I was under the impression that all test results would be returned within 24 hrs (ideally) but I’m now going on 36 hrs and still haven’t received my results, which is frustrating. Also, I just noticed that faculty and staff don’t appear to be included in the testing dashboard, it only notes student testing. Why is this?

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